This week I talk about the importance and meaning of high school football in a small town.

It is the time of year where football fans are ecstatic. You’ve got Thursday Night football, then you’ve got High School football on the crisp fall nights, then college football all day Saturday, and then you got NFL Sunday, and Monday Night Football. While we all cannot relate to the professional and collegiate levels, we all appreciate some high school football.

There is nothing like high school football and we need to remember that. I think a distinct difference in high school football is you see the passion and drive for the love of the game much more.

After high school, many of us don’t interact with the game of football outside of being a viewer. It becomes so much more of a business now with how everything in the game works. In college, you have scholarships and top of the art facilities recruiting these kids to play football. In the NFL you deal with salaries and large contracts on top of apparel deals. A lot more stuff off the field.

In high school, apparel deals and large contracts are a pipe dream that we carry as little kids and we hold onto forever. We think of playing a game for a career and getting paid millions to do it. Very unlikely. What gets lost in high school football is the time spent in classrooms and the practice fields where players and coaches prepare during the week as the lights illuminate the air on Friday nights.

High school football is so much more about playing with your friends. Friends you have been with since you were probably in kindergarten. You’ve got your pride in your school and the local community. It seems everyone rallies around the football teams during the fall. We are fortunate enough to have two football teams in our small town. Whether Public or St. Mary’s is home, or even both, it seems the entire city shuts down and main street is dull and you can find a large slew of vehicles parked nearby the football fields. Many fans attend the games just for their student-parent relationships. Our friends’ kids, or your son’s friends, or your child period. There is a different sense of love as fans pack the stands. We all want to see the team do well.

In the pros and even more so now in college, we see everything is more directed at the schools and universities. Players raise themselves to near-celebrity status and live in the limelight. They don’t carry that relationship with the fans like we do in high school. There is usually a very minimal connection, if any in the upper levels of football.

The bonds formed in high school football are some of the strongest you may ever develop. Mostly a lifetime for some. If your son or daughter has a good coach in football or any sports for that matter, cherish them. As a coach myself, I guarantee you we care about the well-being of your child on and off the field. On the field and in practice we may be hard on them and push them to do their best, but we do our very best to help them succeed in every facet of life. I bring this up because many coaches and administrators at much bigger schools get caught up in winning and losing over the development of a student-athlete.

This is me reaching out to coaches and administrators as well as players. Recognize your opportunity you have to make an imprint on your community and understand the opportunities you have in front of you. High school sports builds a foundation for your lives. Cherish it. Embrace it. Many don’t.