Friday night was the Battle of the Big Sandy, where the football teams from Bridgeport and Decatur met on the Football Field to compete for bragging rights. It’s been a small town rivalry for as long as I can remember, and probably even long before that. It’s one of those moments that defines life in these Small Towns, and it’s one of those traditions that makes me feel so lucky to live here.
Everyone showed up to the game. I’ve often wondered if Main Street Decatur and Bridgeport feel like ghost towns on the night of The Big Game. This year, Wise Regional Health System delivered the Game Ball again to Center Field. Wow. The kids were in awe of the celebration around the start of the game. Representatives from both police stations posted the Colors and stood at attention during the playing of our Star Spangled Banner. The elementary schools competed in a canned food drive to benefit WARM. The signs were bigger. The cheerleaders seemed to yell louder. The towns were present to cheer on their Team and their Town.
Sadly, as I paint this wonderful small town picture, I have to admit there were a few intense and less than perfect moments up in the Decatur Stands. Because of the high attendance, the high school student body and season ticket holders had to compete for space. Season ticket holders wanted to relax and watch the game. Students wanted to stand and yell for their team. A few ticket holders asked the students to sit, and students declined their request. Opinions clashed. Tempers soared. Parents left, and students bristled.
A peacemaker by heart, I can honestly see both sides of this equation. I understand the season ticket holder’s claim to his seat. I am a season ticket holder myself, and had to peer around the student body to see specific plays in the game. I understand that, as an adult, I should be respected and students should not disregard my requests lightly. I get that. So, students, shame on you for not respecting your elders. That’s just bad manners.
Elders, shame on you for not delighting in the excitement of this student body. That’s bad manners, too. This is Their Time. This was the most crowded game of the year, and we were all there to support Our Team. Think on this. What if the stands were empty? What if our school, our town, did not show up on Friday Nights to shout their school spirit with noise makers and REALLY annoying bells? THAT would be a devastating story to tell, and it’s a story all too common out there in other high schools-and in other towns. Towns were teachers and principals are pleading with students to attend pep rallies and games. Towns were schools furnish school tshirts, and students never wear them. Towns were School Spirit, and Town Pride are not celebrated on Friday Nights-or any other night. It happens, but we are lucky.
Ultimately, the Decatur Administrative Staff handled the situation with great problem-solving skills, and I have to commend them for that. Parents and students were re-routed to either “standing” or “sitting” seats, and the cheering progressed, less a few more grumbles here and there. Bottom line, we were all there to cheer on the Eagles, and they needed it that night-falling to Bridgeport 38-48. But, that’s ok, there are plenty of Battles in our future.
And, we are lucky. We are blessed. We live in Small Town Texas, where Friday Night lights up the fall, and Decatur can paint the town Blue. And, not to mention, we’ve got spirit, yes we do. We’ve got Spirit, how ’bout you?