High School Game's Purity
By Ryan Lazo
Sep 4, 2013, 08:18
RYAN LAZO/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
After a 30-minute seat in the corner of Kyle Field, the home of Texas A&M’s football team, for being naughty as deemed by the NCAA, Johnny Manziel took to the field for his first action of the season.
It seems no matter who you are, everyone has an opinion on Manziel. They either support him, applaud the NCAA for delivering punishments or believe Texas A&M’s leading-man was not punished appropriately.
Then there is the National Football League where the Denver Broncos will be without star linebacker Von Miller for six games by violation of the league’s drug policy. The six games missed is an eternity in the 16-game regular season, leaving the Broncos scrambling to find ways to make up for the missing production.
But by the time Miller’s suspension is over and he heads out of the tunnel for Denver’s first home game, fans again will be split. They will either be cheering enthusiastically for the return of a player who can make a world of difference to contending hopes or shake their heads and release a sigh as another player cheats the system to become a star.
And this, in itself, highlights the problem with both the college and professional game.
While Manziel clearly violated NCAA rules for signing autographs in return for money, is it also morally ethical the university sells No. 2 jerseys, creates a Heisman campaign for him and receives approximately $30 million off of his exploits alone?
This is why it’s time we acknowledge and respect the purity of the high school game, one of the few areas of competition not under attack in recent months. Instead of players signing autographs to make money and being reprimanded for their actions, they are players trying to make a name for themselves the right way.
Instead of taking the shortcut by using performance-enhancing drugs, these athletes are pushing themselves to their limits in the weight room during the off-season. Prince George head coach Bruce Carroll applauded his players for the work they did and sees that it can translate on the field.
“Starting in January, everything you do in the weight room, everything you do in the offseason is based on fixing those issues,” Carroll said. “We had good participation in the weight room — averaging 80 or 90 kids a day. The bottom line is the kids have to hold each other accountable, and they did that.”
And by doing so, Prince George can at least enter this season knowing they did all they could to improve in the right manner.
But it doesn’t end there.
College athletics and the NFL, as a whole, are some of the most gambled upon sporting events in the country. Most of those fans lining the stadium every Saturday and Sunday have more at stake than just bragging rights.
Now, attend a high school game and see the difference.
The stands are filled with friends, family, faculty and students from the school. Look onto the field and see the teams gathering behind a banner before running through it as the public-address announcer screams out the school’s name.
Listen to the bands who fill the air with live music during stoppages of play. And finally, look upon the players giving their all in the hopes of winning the game for school pride.
Look at the way they prepare and play with true emotion like Colonial Heights’ linebacker Kevin Loftus.
“If you turn on the film, you’ll see No. 20,” Colonials’ head coach Remus James said. “He’s the heart of our defense. He’s that motor and he’s going to continue to be that motor...”
So go ahead and cheer on your favorite college football and NFL squad, but don’t forget to appreciate the high school game filled with all its purity.