“Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by/Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye/But fork over $125 and sign this waiver/and, my friend, you’re still The Guy.” (With apologies to Bruce Springsteen.)
I’m just now realizing that I’ve had the wrong idea about alumni football games.
I assumed that two rival high school coaches would sit down over a beer and one would suddenly blurt out, “Hey, wouldn’t it be neat if we got some old-timers to play an exhibition game?”
Team members come from all walks of life. They take time away from their cubicle, assembly line, sales counter or pulpit to embrace tradition. They willingly risk broken bones, bruises and concussions to make a point. (“We’re still men. We still have dreams and at least one more game and one remaining kidney inside us. We’re not dumb jocks. Oh, and I almost forgot … we’re still men. We still have dreams and at least one …”)
Folks take it for granted that the players on each team have at one time walked the hallowed halls of the same institution, but sometimes ringers are brought in. (“We learned THIS little paralyzing trick in the KGB — um, I mean in Mrs. McElroy’s Home Ec class.”)
Many teams are made up primarily of athletes who have graduated within the past decade, but sometimes you’ll find some players who are really milking their senior discounts. (“Hey, the cheerleaders are building a PYRAMID. And they don’t even need Pharaoh What’s-His-Name to encourage them.”)
Players show up for the timeless thrill of “the Friday night lights.” (“I THINK those are the Friday night lights. When is AARP insurance ever gonna approve that cataract surgery?”)
Young-at-heart players come to the games chanting, “Remember The Titans” — but only after they’ve remembered the dry cleaning, the Preparation H, the blood pressure medicine, the Early Bird Special …
Some players with pent-up frustrations revel in unnecessary roughness, but Life has a way of rounding off the edges of rivalries for others. (“Here comes THE ENEMY. But that’s my urologist and the trustee who has to vote on whether my granddaughter gets into private school. Hold on, guys. Silly me. Let me head-butt you with this NERF helmet.”)
You notice some subtle differences if you haven’t donned the cleats and pads in a while. Announcers try not to talk too much about “kicking off” or “homecoming.” (“That witch TOOK half my home.”)
Coaches emphasize that “Nothing is beyond your reach — except the things listed on your restraining order.” “Pass interference” is now more likely to refer to a player spotting his daughter under the bleachers with some hormone-infused Romeo.
Especially in small towns, the community turns out en masse for the games. They want to relieve old times. They want to raise money for youth sports. They want to Stick It To The Man by saying, “You took away our cockfights and dogfights, but you can’t take THIS good, clean fun away from us. Ewwwww. I’m glad I stopped wearing white after Labor Day.”
— Satirical columnist Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page Tyree’s Tyrades. He is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.