Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
There is no easy way to say this, so I will: Aspen High School football is boring. Ouch! That hurts as much as the pinch it took to wake me up after last Friday night’s 48-0 win. I was sleepwalking the sideline on official business holding up the down marker … or was it the other way around? But really, I mean this in a good way.
OK, OK, it’s not always boring, I’ll admit that. It’s just boring at home. Alright already, I’ll qualify that statement further, because it hasn’t always been boring at home – just this year. So here you have it: Aspen High School home football games this season have been about as exciting to watch as the grass growing on the field. (Note: the grass on the football field is plastic.)
There. You satisfied? Not me.
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been a cake walk for our boys in red and black to rack up an 8-2 record. Early on they came away with an intense win against a defending state champion … in Idaho. They battled hard until the final gun (it was really a scoreboard horn) against an old nemesis … in Olathe. They were surprised by Coal Ridge High … somewhere in the flatlands between Silt and New Castle. Yet, at home there was almost no drama.
One of the items on a very short list of tense home game moments was when Hotchkiss High ran back the opening kickoff on their way to a 29-22 not-as-close-as-it-sounds loss to the Skiers. But, if you were taking a sip of stout coffee to get ready for the rest of the game you probably missed it.
This year before the games my stomach is stuffed with Hickory House hot wings instead of butterflies. My hair is darker and thicker now than it was at the beginning of the season. My pulse is steady. I’ve forgotten more swear words than I’ve used. The only time I’ve taken my hat off is for the Star Spangled Banner. I had to buy nail clippers!
Do you know what the definition of an insane Aspen sports fan is? Lately it’s been the person showing up to a Skiers football game expecting the other team to score a touchdown against the varsity. And, they’ve even drastically reduced the odds of that happening because the J.V. usually ends up playing most of the second half.
Am I the only one who’s looking for action? Where does one turn when the going gets dull? Well, how about that age-old, rock-solid sanctuary of succor for the sleepy – the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL); you know, the people who brought us the atomic bomb. No, it’s not like that.
Sure, go ahead and laugh, but their Theoretical Division and Center for Nonlinear Studies has done some research on the subject of sports tedium. I’ll give you one guess as to what they found makes sports uninteresting. That’s right. Give me a “P”! Give me an “R”! Give me an “edictability”!
LANL scientists examined the results of more than 300,000 games in soccer, football, baseball, basketball and hockey to gauge excitement of fans. Study co-author Eli Ben-Naim concluded to New Scientist magazine that, “If there are not upsets, then every game is predictable and hence boring.”
Bingo! (Which, by the way, is also more exciting than Aspen High School home football games.)
Yes, I’m complaining … albeit cautiously. While predictability might be decidedly boring to the fans, for a team it is the goal … as long as they are predictably good, which the Skiers are. And, as a fan I am proud of the way these kids play and what they have accomplished despite some key injuries. In a broad sense it is completely satisfying to see dedication, teamwork and talent paying off so well. So, no, I don’t want the Skiers to dumb it down to make their home games more exciting to watch. That’s what we have parity rules in the NFL for.
Where does that leave us fans then? Well, if you regularly attend Aspen High School football games you already know. You turn the game into an event! You mingle and talk to everyone for awhile and then sit in the stands with a few good friends, then you head to the concession stand and start the process over again. You dress in black to be a part of the “black out.” You buy a hot dog to support the Booster Club and a sweatshirt to prove you’re part of the program. You cheer the dance team as they struggle to stay in time to the scratchy may-I-have-a-little-bass-please music blaring from the P.A. system. You smile while you watch a gaggle of kids gather on the field to perform an impromptu halftime show by doing what they do best – screwing around. Balls are flying, bodies tumbling, giggles and shouts saturate the air; it couldn’t be better! The cold wind gusts out of Maroon Creek Valley and you move closer to the one you’re sharing a blanket with. You give someone else crap for not wearing a single item of clothing that matches the team colors. You tell a few stories about your own glory days and nobody points out that they’ve heard them all before, because they know you’ll extend the courtesy when they launch into their own, again. And, yes, we even keep an eye on the game to cheer the big plays, the key stops, to make sure the team knows we’re behind them, and so we can second-guess coach Sirko’s play calling.
But, I understand that this may not be enough for everyone. A few sticklers insist on a good game. It is for them that playoffs were invented. And, it just so happens that we have one tomorrow at 1 p.m. on the home field (a.k.a. Never-Never Land) against Platte Valley High. It’s do or die, winner take all, leave nothing on the field except blood, sweat and tears (but, no food or drink on the turf, please. School rule.). You gotta love it!
So, give ’em heck, boys. Play your hearts out, and we’ll be there in force cheering you on. Hopefully, afterward we can all share another big yawn at The Red Onion.
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Columnist Roger Marolt is learning to hold his breath longer during these hot, dry summers, he writes.