The Game Plan By Charles Prince

The North Jefferson News




Football practice for Alabama High School Athletic Association schools is less than five weeks away. About the same time as fall camps open, the Alabama Sports Writers Association will release its pre-season football polls for the 2008 season.

Those two elements usually do a lot to get the focus on football, for sports fans who weren’t already focused on america’s favorite sport.

Fall practice at the high school level always produces much interest, particularly among parents who hope to see their son step in and fill the shoes of departed starters from a season before.

However, those parents aren’t the only fans interested in pre-season camp. Just about everyone seems to have an opinion on the particular school they follow. Alumni, local residents who follow the school and parents of students not old enough to play on the varsity yet, usually have strong feelings about how their beloved high school might fare in the coming months.

It’s one thing that’s unique to not only America, but particularly in the South, just about everyone seems interested in football—high school, college or the pros.

That’s not the case everywhere. When I was a younger man, fresh out of high school, I moved to California for work. I was stunned when the fall rolled around that none of my neighbors weren’t talking about football at all.

Not their old high schools, not USC or UCLA or the pros. I was like a garden without water, I was drying up fast.

As things turned out, I was able to move back to the South in 1994.

It was late July when I returned and I soon was reminded of one of the main reasons I enjoy living here—people in the South love football and love to talk about it.

They don’t mind arguing about it, either, as I can attest to from some of the e-mails that come in each week during the season when the ASWA polls are released.

I’ve often been given advice on what teams I should vote for and what teams I shouldn’t. It’s also a common occurrence to hear about how much a certain reader disagrees with the polls during any given week.

When the pre-season polls come out (they’re tentatively scheduled for release on August 3), they probably won’t be filled with many teams from our area.

Often times, the polls reflect in part of what happened last year, in part of what’s coming back this year, in terms of returning starters, and in part on tradition.

The polls aren’t perfect, but they do get the fans talking or arguing.

Either way, it’s nice to hear folks talk about football, whether it be high school, college or the pros. After all, it’s the greatest game on earth.

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