I grew up in the medium-sized town of Friendswood outside of Houston. I attended a 4A public high school with the same people from elementary school. It was much like any other Texas public high school in the way that football is king. Friday nights, you were at the game. It was THE thing to do on Fridays. The whole town went, even if they didn’t know a single player; it was all about repping that Mustang blue.
Now this way of life doesn’t exist in every city, as not every state is as obsessed with football as Texas is, but it’s what brought (and still brings) my town together. It’s essentially the only time that almost everyone is in one relatively confined area. It’s also probably the only time that it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money your family makes. No one cares about being diverse at a high school football game. Having more money isn’t going to make you a better cheerer in the bleachers and it certainly doesn’t mean you have more pride in the team. With differences aside, everyone can just focus on the game.
Distinctions aside also allows for more opportunity to get to know someone you wouldn’t necessarily talk to in a different context. Sitting in the bleachers, I was most of the time surrounded by people I didn’t normally hang out with nor care to hang out with. During those moments I didn’t care though, because we were all there for the same reason: to be supportive of the same team regardless of our previous thoughts toward each other. In those moments, football gave us something in common.
Having something in common with the people around you gives you a way to bond with them. Everyone is living in the same excitement and cheering for the same team. Even after the game is over, it still lives on in the memory of the people watching. I could go to H-E-B the next day wearing a mustang T-shirt and someone would ask me if I saw the game and have a 10-minute conversation about it with me. We were all mustangs and we all had pride in that.
Now my point in this column doesn’t just apply to high school a football game, it is just what I know well and miss. My point applies to all sports. Sport is a unique tool that bonds us in the best and worst of times. It gives us something in common with a person that is sitting right next to us or even a person that lives across the country from us, no matter the differences. It brings towns, states and even countries together to, just even for that special hour, forget about everything else that is going on and be excited about a single thing. Only sports can do that.