Let me say this at the onset to get it over with. It was an abysmal football game; it felt like some sort of dystopic nightmare. Because of lightning, the game didn’t start until 9:45 and it was mostly downhill from there. Thankfully, we don’t endure those sorts of games often. We are also thankful that ESPN has already done their story on our opponent, Wendell Phillips high school, so at least we aren’t featured in the footage. The ESPN piece on Phillips is worth watching.
But there was a bright spot during the lengthy lightning delay.
For the first several days of the delay some of us hunkered down in the shed. Picture Noah on the ark. We went into the shed two by two. The winds howled. The rain blew in. Less brave people (like my wife) hid in the high school. But once the rain let up, we met up at the stands.
Sensitive to our boredom, the boys in the press box scrolled through their I-pods and played some favorites. Maybe, I am living in the 70’s, but I’d like to think their playing of CCR’s, Who’ll Stop the Rain got things going right. Before someone brings it up, I deny yelling anything about Freebird when Sweet Home, Alabama was played.
In any case, the party really picked up when Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline blasted over the speakers. Our cheerleaders decided that if they weren’t going to lead the crowd in cheers (we still didn’t know at that point if we would even play) they could bring cheer with a “Sweet Caroline chorus line.” It wasn’t necessarily well choreographed – – but the moment I will remember for quite some time is what an encouragement it was to my heart to see young people laughing and having fun. Their smiles were warm and carefree.
Here is a serious point. At the end of the long week, seeing teens sing Sweet Caroline, or watching them surf on the football bench to Wipeout, or seeing adults champion the cause of the YMCA – – those are the sorts of smiles we need. We really do.
Young people can’t know what a gift they give when they smile and laugh. I am thankful for them.