Guest Column

Hard to Believe

I well remember going to my first high school football games at Picket Field on Wesley Street. I learned to love the game of football at an early age because my daddy enjoyed the Friday night games, and we were able to walk to the field from our home.

We sat in those old wooden stands and watched the players run out on the field from the Wesley Street Gym among the cheers of just about all the town. Even though there was Western High in Welcome, Starr High in Senoia, and Grantville High, Newnan and Central High Schools were the only ones who had football teams, and all of us loved and supported our teams.

Football at Picket Field was simple. The players were not weight lifters by any stretch of the imagination, therefore the game was not nearly as rough as it is today. The equipment furnished the players was limited—shoulder pads, maybe knee pads and small leather helmets that fit closely on the heads.

As best I remember, each team had a head coach and an assistant coach. There were no electric fans for the hot weather, no such thing as Gatorade, no side-line bicycles to work the leg muscles during the game, and no trainers. We had managers who did whatever the coach told them to do. And, well do I remember the water bucket. Everybody dipped out of the same water bucket when they got thirsty.

I will never forget being at one game when there was a player sitting on the wooden bench just waiting for his chance to get in the game. He had not had many opportunities to play, and when the coach called his number, he jumped up off that bench and in his excitement, stepped in the water bucket and fell flat on his face. Needless to say, that brought the whole crowd to its feet, cheering! Yes, you planned your Friday nights around “the games,” and nothing would keep us students or adults from being there to cheer our teams on.

And as I read the sports page recently, my mouth dropped open, and I thought I must have read the article wrong. I thought it surely must be a joke. There in the paper it detailed a trend of sagging attendance among students at college football games, and according to the research, “one of the prime reasons was connectivity or rather the lack of it.”

It went on to say that AT&T has invested $10 million to alleviate that issue for their customers in UGA’s Sanford Stadium alone! They are following this same procedure in other stadiums around the states. They installed more than 400 antennae throughout the stadium, stating “our expectation is that the fan experience this year will be greatly improved.”

It took me a while to digest this. I know we now live in a world of technology, and I have come to terms with so much of it, but to think that “poor reception” for a person at a football game is a reason to keep someone from supporting his or her team is just beyond all my comprehension. When I think of all the people who would give their eye teeth to be able to sit in a stadium and watch their favorite team play, and yet those who have tickets and can go, would stay away because of “poor connectivity” with their technical apparatus just is beyond my understanding.

It’s another day in another world for folks like me. As I have said many times, I am thankful for so much of the new technical devices, but to stay away from a football game because of being unable to use a technical device during a game just makes me wonder what I am going to read next! I would love to know what Lewis Grizzard would have to say about this.

Norma Haynes


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