I'm one of those people that are prone to wonder, worry and think about the most unusual things. As I have gotten older I'm probably not as bad as I used to be, but my mind can still get stuck on some things that really don't amount to a hill of beans in the grand scheme of life.
On football Friday nights I used to wonder about cars riding by the stadium before or during a football game. "Where on earth could all these folks possibly be going?" I would wonder. I couldn't imagine that there was people riding around out there not attached to some high school team somewhere. Don't they know what they're missing?
I've missed some football Friday nights myself over the past few years, but the reason normally was because I was traveling to a college football game somewhere the next day. To me, that was a legitimate excuse not to be at a high school game.
Last Friday, I did not attend the Thomson-Lincoln Co. scrimmage at the Brickyard. I had anticipated the scrimmage since the end of last season. I even marked it on my calendar months ago. I missed the scrimmage, but obviously was not traveling to a college game.
My father-in-law is ill, and I chose to make the trip to Millen to be with him, my mother-in-law and my wife. I left as soon as I could after work on Friday afternoon. I could easily have stayed in town until Saturday morning so as to make the scrimmage. Pam and her mother would have been fine with that, but I really just didn't have the desire. In fact, I felt like I couldn't get there fast enough. Just like I used to feel about going to football games on Fridays.
Before my mother died in 1997, I used to wear a t-shirt that said, "Georgia Football; More Important Than Life Or Death." After her death I could never bring myself to wear that shirt again. I still have it, but I just don't wear it. I'll admit though that I often said that my mom loved me so much that she knew to die in May. I say that with all due respect to the good Lord and my mother. It was my way of finding something to say to help ease the pain, and mom did love me just that much.
My father died on an October Thursday in 2000. We had his funeral on Saturday morning so I could make it to Athens for a Saturday night game between Georgia and Tennessee. He would have had it no other way. He knew full well where I got my eagerness from about getting to the games.
There are those on teams all over the land, including Thomson, that are experiencing life's bigger problems as football season approaches. The norm is that most teenagers don't have to deal with such issues, but we all know the norm can't always be counted on. There's something about sports that makes us all feel like teenagers, but when the reality of life takes over, we grow old before we're ready.
From now on, when I'm at a football game on Friday night, instead of wondering about the cars riding by the stadium, I'll say a little prayer for them. Chances are at least some of them would rather be at the game but are destined to a place elsewhere, a place presented by life's plan. Most of these destinations can't be scheduled by season or week even. They are things that happen very often when we least expect it.
With that in mind, I've come to realize that football is just a game. It's a game that will be played again next week or next year. We can't say that about everything.