There was just one problem. At the time the declaration was made, I happened to be standing in front of Powell High School surrounded by 14 hopeful cross country runners and a coaching staff that still holds bragging rights on autumn hardware produced over the past decade.
Football season? No. This was cross country season, a sport where progress is measured a little differently. Three yards and a cloud of dust? Meh, try five kilometers, a rolled ankle and calf cramps, then get back to us.
Football players compete in front of grandstands filled with bleachers. It isn’t unheard of for cross country runners to spend time running in virtual solitude, the only applause coming from that tiny voice inside cheering the fact that five seconds just melted off a personal best.
No, faithful reader, this isn’t a column designed to advocate the superiority of one sport over another.
I mean, let’s be clear. It is football season. I know that. You know that. There isn’t a male reading this column that probably hasn’t had an invisible ticking clock counting down since the end of the Super Bowl last winter.
We’ve watched DVD replays of the Powell-Douglas game enough times to have every snap memorized. We watched the NFL draft, not because we actually care who the Atlanta Falcons select in the sixth round but because it was a chance to hear people talk about football. We purchased football magazines when they hit the shelves in mid-June, not because we were under the illusion there was relevant information inside, but because we wanted to read about football. We began preparations for our fantasy leagues in July because, you guessed it, it was an excuse to think about football.
So, yes, it’s football season. But it’s not just football season.
It’s volleyball season. It’s swimming season (at least for the ladies...I’m not sure why we make the guys wait until the polar bear weather of winter). It’s tennis season. It’s golf season. It’s cross country season and it is cheerleading season. Over at Northwest College, it’s soccer season too, by golly!
To each of these, I simply shout woohoo! So many sports. So many options. So many student-athletes willing to put themselves out there to represent school and community in competition.
The celebration, faithful reader, shouldn’t be about one particular sport or another. It should simply be a celebration. Another year has begun, another sports calendar has rolled over for a new academic year.
August is always the most optimistic month of the year. Everyone starts at 0-0. Everyone is just getting back together after the summer has effectively insulated memories from the school year before. Soon, towns will pull together in bleachers on weekday nights and weekends as the eternal battle of Us vs. Them is waged over and over again. To the victors go a tick mark in the win column and possible bragging rights over a rival. To the losers, the resolve to get them next time.
This is Wyoming, after all. A rematch is no more than a couple weeks away in most cases.
Northwest College got things started with soccer scrimmages earlier this week. The Trapper volleyball team will showcase itself on Saturday. The Panther golf team steps back onto the links today (Thursday). Everyone else joins the party in a week. Ready or not, here it comes. The summer is over. The fall season has arrived.
What season is it? It’s sports season — see you at the games!