All my life I’ve tried to write literature. I am aware that like Stan Musial or Ted Williams at the bat most of the time I’ve failed. But the critical word is ‘try.’ That effort has been a wonder of my life.”[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]
–Roger Kahn – an American sportswriting icon.
BY TERRANCE GAVAN – HALIBURTONNEWS.CA SPORTS
Bah! Humbug! When it’s raining, cold and a ruddy gale is blowing off Head Lake onto the Brohman Memorial Field? You can have it.
On those days? I get cranky. I have to wrap my Canon T3i in plastic and expose my trigger finger to that harsh autumnal splendor. I huddle on the sideline, shivering and cursing. I listen to comedy on my iPhone. Lewis Black and Russell Peters. When it gets colder and I have been out in that bloody cold for an hour? I switch to Snoop Dogg and 2Pac and Steely Dan. And I stamp feet to the music.
Heckfire! Don’t get caught up in that diatribe.
I love fall football. Watch me shivering on that cold goshdarn sideline. You will see a smile on my schmoosh. Roger Kahn once wrote. “Football is violence and cold weather and sex and college rye.”
I’m old. Sex left my fall football checklist back in 1978. College Rye was erased from the realm of possibilities on March 20 1998. One of my two birthdays.
Now? I have the violence and the cold weather. And my Red Hawks. So I watch. I curse a lot. But I diligently record some video and take 205 images. of fumbles, shorn tackles and passes caught and missed. Cold sideline shots. Grainy muffled snapples of muddy jerseys. I wear my Wellingtons and I watch these kids. For moments.
These kids I know. Not well. But I watch them giving it up on the delinquent mud of Gary Brohman Field. Every one of them offering their best for the school they love. And their coaches. And the fans who line that sideline and sit in hemorrhoid-inducing metal stands.
Red Hawks lost last Friday to LCVI Spartans. I’m not sure of their nicknames. They got kids there too. Capable kids and kids who offer just as much.
So I know the scores. But Bah. Humbug. It’s easy to put up the score. Not so easy to give these kids their props and DAP.
Suffice to say that my Red Hawks? Well, both junior and senior teams went into Friday’s Red and White homecoming opener logged in at 0-2.
When the final crazy siren went apoplectic on the solar powered scoreboard, just before 6 pm on Friday afternoon?
Both Red Hawk football teams were 0-3. Nuff said on that.
The Hawks, juniors and seniors, played some wonderfully inspired football. Problem is? That when the wind is blowing a ton and the rain is coming down, turning the pigskin into a greasy version of that snout nosed truffle digger? We are treated to a version of football that resembles but little the game that adjudicates on the measured cadence of deft cuts, well-thrown spirals and the 40 yard punt.
Punting. Case in point. Let’s look at punting against the Head Lake blunderbuss. When a ball is booted high in the air with a knife edged spiral one would expect – considering the laws of physics and foot-pounds times velocity and all – the ball to advance down the field.
One does not expect it to go up, reverse direction and come down on the punter’s head. This is another law of physics apparently. Acceleration decreases when a ball is exuberantly met by a crappy nor’wester.
Welcome to Friday afternoon football at Haliburton High.
Let’s just say that we got to see “a” version of football on Friday. Not the pretty version. Not the one we like to watch under sun-drenched autumn skies. Where cleats grab turf and find purchase; running backs hold onto the football; and wide receivers are actually able to feel their fingers. Quarterbacks – also known as pivots – are actually able to pivot and throw. Not pivot and divot, slip and topple.
Do you know what Coach Bruce Griffith’s juniors were doing on the last three plays of the game? In clamoring darkness? And biting cold?
They were none of them holding their heads in Yoga’s downward dog. They were chanting on the sidelines as hell was busting loose overhead. They ran to centerfield to shake hands with LCVI.
At the end of the senior game.
A Haliburton lineman went over to the LCVI kid who had blocked him all game.
“Man,” he said, tired, bloody, muddy and cold. “Was that you? Out there pushing on me all day? That’s a great job you did out there… great job. Nice game. You’re good buddy.”
Go ahead and measure that against 36-13 or 20-12.
Kahn says he tries to write literature. I started reading Roger Kahn long before I knew what the heck I was doin’ with my life. I knew I wanted to express myself like Kahn or a guy named Frank Deford. Just once or twice before I kicked it.
Because Kahn and DeFord knew that this job; this sports granola; this beat means more than score. This life behind a keyboard entails finding something deeper than statistics. Don’t worry I’ll get you the scores.
Today, I just wanted to leave you with the moments.
Football is still violence and cold weather and sex and college rye.
But beneath the trope of that colloquial melange?
We know that football is players and coaches and mentors and battles.
And life jumbled toward grudging respect for our enemies. And leaving it all on the field. Including the grudges and the disappointment.
Football is really about knowing where to draw the line; and above all, knowing how to handle the endgame.
I love football.
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