I had no association or knowledge of football when I was in “grammar school.” If there was such a thing at rural Dawnville School (which encompassed grades one-11), it never touched my life in any way.
As far as I know, there was no athletic program at school. We had recess when those who wished to get away from the books were free to go outside and chase each other around the building or play Red Rover or Hopscotch or merely walk around the school ground.
I have a vague memory of a basketball hoop — with which I had no relationship — in the parking lot. But these activities were not mandatory. I think I stayed inside more often than not. There might have been a baseball game in progress sometimes, or some foot races.
But football? Never saw a football or attended a game until I entered Dalton High School in 1947. The team was, and still is, called The Catamounts. What a fancy word for a plain old wildcat.
By the time I was a junior at the ripe old age of 15, I was beginning to understand a bit about football. Some of my female classmates (and a couple of guys) were vying for spots on the cheerleading squad.
I remember begging my mother to allow me to try out for cheerleading. In her infinite wisdom, she said “no.” She knew that I was too lazy, not to mention that I had two left feet and was doomed to being a wallflower on the dance floor and a candidate for broken bones on the gym floor or football field sidelines.
Besides, where would we get funds for those fancy outfits, and how would we ever get me to practice session and games?
I was no acrobat, but that didn’t keep me from being accepted for membership in the first-ever Dalton High School Tri-Hi-Y organization. I have very few memories of the group’s activities, but I recall rather vividly a program at one of our meetings.
The speaker was Coach Anderson. He had been “chosen” to explain to this group of teenage girls the ins and outs of the glorious game of football. He knew the value of a student body composed of excited, loud, unified fans, led by cheerleaders who knew when and how to jump to their feet when a situation demanded prompt and enthusiastic Rah-rahs.
We, the Tri-Hi-Y girls, were supposed to learn during 30 minutes the art of cheerleading. I must say that I learned more about civics from Coach Anderson’s class my freshman year than I learned about his main subject, football, that day.
Nevertheless, I became a Catamount fan of sorts, but only when it fit my schedule. I never developed a true interest in the game.
Andy Griffith seemed to have all the answers in his monologue “What it Was, Was Football.” When I watched a game then, and still today, I never seem to be able to see the football. It’s as if all those guys are just wrestling and maneuvering around over nothing.
I guess it’s better that they gather in a fenced-in field and fight over a ball — which isn’t even a real, round ball — than to fight on the sidewalks or back alleys over drugs or over nothing. Some men seem to be born for a fight, if not on a war-torn battlefield, then on a ball field or in a boxing ring, while the rest of us derive pleasure from observing and/or gambling on the outcome.
For those of us who aren’t true fans, fringe benefits get us through the season. For the past few years our church has played host to a Souper Bowl Sunday event, sharing homemade soups with each other after church.
One added feature is a slotted coin bank with a “Touchdown!” cheer that shouts each time a coin is deposited. Funds go to missions. We might take in more cash if we gambled on the game, but that could defeat the purpose.
I admit I tried to watch the Big Game on Sunday, but my heart was not in it. I was born in Denver, and I passed through Seattle once on my way to someplace else.
But, as Andy might say, a football is just a football. It’s much more fun to watch re-runs of Andy and Aunt Bea, Opie and Barney. And it’s a lot healthier.
Juanita Hughes is retired head of the Woodstock Library.