Football fans learn lessons, too

Published 1:25 am Saturday, November 5, 2011

Earl Johnson summed it up nicely at Rotary Tuesday.

“We spend a lot of money trying to make this community look good and make people want to live here,” he said. “But nothing we can do is important as what you are doing, and that’s building pride in our community.”

He was talking to Andalusia’s head coach Brian Seymore, who spoke to Rotarians this week about the Bulldogs’ chances in the AHSAA Class 4A playoffs. The Bulldogs marked the first perfect regular season since 1977, and you could see the pride in the community.

That perfection ended last night, as did the playoff hopes of Andalusia, Straughn, and Opp. Only Pleasant Home is still in the hunt in Covington County.

But the pride in this year’s team and the excitement in the community remind us that football is more than a Friday night game: Teams – and especially winning ones – unify communities.

We lived for many years in a town where school (team) loyalties were split by the presence of a private school and the proximity of two other school systems. It was very hard to pull that community together.

Not so here, where three decades later, players from the Bulldogs’ most successful decade never miss the Friday night lights.

In an interview this week, Lex Short talked about those days – the expectations, the pressure, and the lessons learned.

“If something is worth something, it’s worth working for,” he said. “Nobody is going to give you anything. And confidence goes a long way.”

I’d submit that those of us who are just fans learn lessons from football, too. I’m the first to say that we sometimes take football way too seriously. I’ve been so nervous about Alabama’s game tonight, I haven’t been able to read the sports pages for a week. The hype, I am certain, will jinx us.

But I’ve paid enough attention to know that Coach Saban is talking about the need to stay focused; the need for players to pay attention to details; and to be in the game for the full 60 minutes.

And I say over and over again in our building to the football fans who also follow his pep talks: What could WE accomplish if we could be that focused? What could we do if we worked as hard as the Bulldogs have this season?

Congratulations to Coach Seymore, members of his staff, and the Bulldogs; to Coach Trent Taylor, members of the Straughn staff, and the Tigers; and Coach Jack Whigham, members of the Opp staff, and the Bobcats. You had good seasons this year, and made us all proud.

To Coach Ronnie Douglas, members of the Pleasant Home staff, and the Eagles, we’re all cheering for you now.

And for today, Roll Tide, y’all.