Roger Marolt: Measuring a rivalry in 10-yard increments
October 5, 2017
It is only a little surprising that Aspen High School football has a world-class chain gang keeping precise 10-yard measurements and laser-sharp ball spotting at their home games. In a town located in the center of the universe that defines class with a who's-who list of perfectly manicured real estate brokers, you would tolerate nothing less from local, orange-vested football game officials.
The only thing that might be a little hard to believe is that no member of The Gang has died and, so, there hasn't been anyone new admitted in memory. A couple of years ago one member almost died when a skid loader ran over him on a job site but, since he only almost died, we are keeping him around as an almost member of the chain gang, which is good enough to retain his coveted position. Our only requirement is that he shows up once a season at the Hickory House for the traditional pre-game gorge of hot wings and onion rings — and buys.
Most of the time, most people take us mostly for granted, like the gold in Fort Knox. Consider the last home game that Aspen won, 80-50. The teams combined for about 2,000 all-purpose yards in a game that seemed like it took four hours (I'm not sure on this because time-keeping is some wannabee's job), all of them (yards and hours) covered by us. All we got for our effort in that track meet was sweaty and tired.
This week will be different. It's a big game. A really big game. OK, it's a really, really big game; maybe the biggest in almost a decade. Aspen is hosting Basalt in a homecoming rivalry shoot-out. Aspen is a surprising 5-0. It is surprising that Basalt has lost once. I don't remember both Aspen and Basalt putting together such good teams in the same year. The league title is on the line. Seeding for the state championship tournament will be impacted. Ski town bragging rights are up for grabs! Whoops, sorry. That would be the other rival, Vail.
There is a persistent rumor flying around that the mayors of the respective towns have a bet. In a wager that mocks physical geography, for an entire year after the game, the winning town will get to refer to itself as "upvalley" while the loser will have to say it is "downvalley." Entire RFTA route descriptions are at stake!
Speaking of buses, there is another rumor that Basalt is chartering several of them to bring fans up for the game in an attempt to diesel-fume the home-field advantage away from Aspen. There is only one way to combat this: Aspenites, get on your bicycles and pedal your hard, little butts out to the field in a Le Tour-size peloton show of support for the boys in red and black! Don't forget the head lamps and reflectors for the ride home.
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If you feel like you have to drive to the game, go ahead. Just this once won't hurt. It will have less impact than cutting a new ski run or even forgetting your reusable grocery bags. Between plays we talk; after the game we do something about global warming. Or maybe the next day, since we'll be exhausted.
In a special halftime show, the AHS class of '77 will gather at midfield to lead a rousing rendition of the school fight song. You know how it goes — "Oh in the western part of Colorado, there is a school with lots of pep and go, and … de da de dat da da da dat dat de da. etc., etc … Aspen Higheye Schoo-oo-ool!" No confirmation as of press time whether the University of Texas marching band will be accompanying.
In an outreach of solidarity, the words to the song will be handed out by AHS history and math teachers in the visitors' bleachers so that all may sing united, no matter the color of the sleeves on our lettermen's jackets. I hope everyone respects this gesture in the spirit in which it is offered. If not, any sons of bitches that kneel down during the singing of the fight song will be escorted to the other side of the wall. Please don't ask how this will be accomplished; let's just not go there.
Anyway, I think I can speak for the entire chain gang when I say that we are so much looking forward to the free halftime hot dogs we are entitled to for which we always pay dearly for later. We hope to see all of you at the game. And, if you feel like booing anyone, please boo us instead. We usually mistake it for applause.
Aspen's chain gang has stretched the truth since chains were made of iron and will continue to until they are replaced with laser-guided GPS units mounted on self-tightening sticks. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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