Football: Who Knew?

Michael Jarowicz, Staff Writer

Before we start, I want to make this blatant: this is not a sports article. If you are here looking for the scores, who caught what, or an expert analysis of the game, you’re in the wrong place. I’d recommend The Herd’s Sports Section as a semi-reliable source for updates and whatever else goes on there. No, this is an article written by a junior with more high school years under his belt than football games willingly attended. I’m writing this for all of you athletes and introverts alike as a way to view a perspective that you probably haven’t seen before, and to possibly encourage (or discourage, more likely) someone to show up to the next home game.

A little backstory; I had very little intention of appearing at last week’s WHITE OUT football game. I was asked to write an article on the experience of a game as someone who doesn’t go to them often. Because I have too much free time and a perfect perspective on this topic, I said yes. Before doing anything else, I thought back to the last football home game I attended. It was the 2018 homecoming game, and my experience there was… less than memorable. I can’t even recall if Kennebunk won or lost that game. One thing I do remember, though, was the student fan section. They changed locations from one place to the next, everyone following the crowd like a colony of ants, and I had no choice but to stay with the group or get left behind. I’m sure that the sea of white shirts flowing between the bleachers was an odd sight for one watching from afar. I recall the food from the concession stand being better than school lunches, but I know no one holds either of those in very high regard. After that, everything else about that game was hazy. A year from today, though, I’m certain that this game will be no different in my mind; some football game where my greatest remembrance of the experience is of lots of white. 

In preparation for this game, I required two things: One, a white shirt, and two, a ride. The first was easy; my Herd t-shirt is still blindingly white due to the lack of usage it’s seen. But I could not bother my family for the second task, as all of them seemed to be conveniently busy. So, I started asking my friends with cars if they were able to Uber me in and, much to my annoyance but not at all to my surprise, most of them weren’t planning on attending the game that night. However, I did find one participant willing to give up his night of [Minecraft or whatever else he does] to attend the game and ride in with me. 

Approaching the school, we noticed that there were many more people in attendance than we anticipated, but as we drove in, we realized that three fields were currently being used for a game or practice for other fall sports. Now, if I had done my research, I would have known this to be the case, but, unsurprisingly, I did not. Nevertheless, we found a shady spot in the student lot to park his car. The upfront $2.00 seemed almost too low, especially considering that many parts of the event were fundraisers for the cheer coach Peggy Mowatt. Once we got in, the first thing made clear to me was that all of the students in white were in the same place, as I expected, and they were also all standing up. Now, that second bit made me wonder; were the seats not good enough? Did the metal bleachers make their butts cold? No, I found out, everyone I asked was standing “because everyone else is.” If I had asked enough people, I likely would have gotten responses such as, “it shows support for our team,” or  “we make ourselves more seen,” but my reasoning was similar to those I did ask; they’re doing it, so I probably should too. 

My actual experience watching the game was similar to football games I’ve watched on TV in the past. The only reason I somewhat know football is from the hours of observing my brother play Madden on the PS3, and him reluctantly answering my endless questions about the game. Whenever it’s on TV and I happen to have found myself on the couch in front of it, I tend to stick to my phone and only look up if my dad starts yelling at the screen. Although I tried to stay into it, the Kennebunk v. Cheverus game didn’t end up pulling my attention much. My focus tended to drift to the people around me, the sidelines, virtually everything but the game, and I only refocused in when I heard cheering. But by then, I had already missed the action, and there was no replay for me to watch. I ended up frantically asking, “what just happened?” to anyone who would listen, only to get a half-answer. A few times, I caught a highlight or saw some of the action, but the numbers on the back of the players’ jerseys meant nothing to me. I could have caught the name of the player that had just run 40 yards if that one guy’s 30-something pound speaker didn’t drown out the announcer’s voice. But if you ask me how the overall experience was, I would say it wasn’t bad. You might even hear me say it was good. This time, we didn’t shift locations like a single organism. The fan section stayed grounded, only sitting down during the 10-minute halftime. The team played well, as is evident by the 48-13 final score. I got to enjoy the feeling of a win firsthand, not hear about it or see it on a website (even though I did have to look online for the details I failed to remember, including the final score). Getting to sit in close proximity to people you usually don’t talk to invites new experiences and lets you be more social. After the game, I went out with other people, whereas if I had stayed home, I would have still been on my couch. Going to a game like this was, in my opinion, a good experience that everyone should try, and it really defines part of the high school experience, even if you were forced to go in the name of online content.