There’s a lot to like as I cover high school football in Marshall County.
I enjoy getting to know the players, the camaraderie with the coaches, the competition, listening to the bands, the Friday night lights, the enthusiasm of the cheerleaders, the smell from the concession stands and much more.
But there’s some frustrating things, too.
One of those pet peeves, that I witness regularly is people – children and adults – talking or walking or even laughing with a friend during the National Anthem.
I despise the lack of respect for our flag and our country.
I can remember well, in elementary school, saying the Pledge of Allegiance each day and learning the words of the National Anthem.
And believe me, if I would have talked during either of those – my teacher would have quickly gone for the paddle.
One of the best parts of any sporting event is the playing or the singing of the National Anthem.
A late soldier once wrote this – “The expected behavior during the national anthem is to stand, render a salute (hand over heart, present arms, etc.), remain silent, still, and respectful until the last note.
“It seems many people can’t be bothered to give three minutes out of their lives to honor a country that provides more safety, liberty, and opportunity than any other on the planet.”
Fan support, for the most part, is disappointing.
I know everybody wants a winner, and a winner tends to draw a lot more folks to the stands.
I played sports. And no one wanted to win more than I.
But these are high school kids who are working in the weight room and in the hot sun, learning the game, and even more importantly, building character and teamwork. They deserve support – win or lose.
I appreciate the efforts of our head coaches in the county – John Danley at Byhalia, Darrow Anderson at Potts Camp, Barrett Donahoe at Marshall Academy, Chris Daniels at H.W. Byers and Sylvester Hemphill at Holly Springs.
I see them at work. I talk to them weekly. They have my respect. They’re helping to prepare our young people for life after high school and football.
And I have to give a special shout-out to Coach Daniels at H.W. Byers. I’d seen him do it before. And a couple of weeks ago, while covering the Byers versus Potts Camp game at Byers, he was again a one-man show on the sideline.
He was coaching offense, defense and special teams. He even brought the flag out for the National Anthem. And when the officials found a fireant bed near midfield just prior to kickoff, he ran and got the fire-ant killer.
Coach Daniels is matching up with teams who have three, four, probably sometimes five coaches on the other sideline.
And Byers has just 17 total players. That’s tough.
A game official, responsible for making sure there was not too many men on the field, told Coach Daniels, “It’s easier to just look at your sideline and make sure there are six players there.”
Once, on a kickoff, the official shouted, “Coach, you’ve got seven on the sideline.”