Ah, it was a beautiful Saturday night. The clouds had cleared as the sun descended over the Rockies.
I was standing on the back row at All City Stadium in Denver on Saturday night, enjoying this fine night along with a fierce girls soccer game between Green Mountain’s Rams and Palmer Ridge’s Bears. Green Mountain players were working the ball, slowly and carefully, near the goal, searching for a good shot. This is how soccer works. It’s a game of patience.
Then a cry rose from the Rams' section. This cry could have been heard two blocks away. You might have heard the cry here in the Springs.
“Shoot the (expletive deleted) ball!” an elderly man commanded at the limit of his, or anyone else’s, lung power. I was stunned. So was the 4-year-old sitting in front of this angry old man.
This was the scene Saturday night in Denver. It could have been the scene anywhere in The Land of the Free. The most partisan destinations in our country in this or any year are high school sporting events. Forget the Republican or Democratic conventions this summer. Those gatherings won’t even come close.
This outrageous, illogical partisanship is exactly why you should attend high school games. This crazed devotion is a prime reason why preps are so much fun.
After a drive to Denver to watch the Broncos, Nuggets, Rapids, Rockies or Avalanche, you might find yourself sitting next to someone who is more interested in the beer than the game. (Trust me on this one.) Or someone who just wanted to enjoy a warm, breezy night at Coors Field. You must search for true believers.
You will not search at a high school game. You will be surrounded by genuine fanatics.
Over the past academic year, I’ve spent a few dozen hours sitting among moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and friends and neighbors at high school games in the Pikes Peak region.
Sure, it can get ugly. At a recent Coal Ridge-St. Mary’s 3A playoff soccer game, there was an ugly, if accidental, collision. This left one of the Pirates from St. Mary’s flat on her back. She was in obvious and real pain.
A woman from Coal Ridge began a loud rant. She kept shouting, loud enough for everyone in the stadium to hear, that the Pirate was faking. This insensitive, clueless verbal barrage went on for a couple of minutes. I love the passion of high school fans, but despise the venom they sometimes bring to stadiums and gyms.
But, more often, the scene is fresh and fun. I think back to my favorite game of 2011-2012, when Lewis-Palmer’s powerful basketball team traveled to tangle with Sierra’s equally powerful squad, and I can’t help but smile. I long will remember loud, properly hostile fans from both sides.
A team from the outer limits of the north Springs suburbs had arrived at a southern Springs high school, but the scene never turned ugly. It was, instead, thrilling and uplifting, a great game, a great night for sport in our city.
Listen, I understand the temptation to focus your devotion solely on college and, especially, pro teams. When you bring up Lewis-Palmer basketball star Josh Scott, not everyone is going to know who you’re talking about. When you mention Peyton Manning, everyone who has not been living in a cave will understand who you’re talking about.
But with a little effort and a little planning, a high school game can be a rewarding, at times hilarious, part of your sports diet.
Come on. Make a promise to yourself to attend an (expletive deleted) high school game.