On The Fence
Bobby Leach "The Rooster" | 8/5/2015, 5:42 p.m.
I was mulling over past glory with a former high school football teammate recently and just like a pair of old fisherman recalling the big one that got away, we spent a good hour over a campfire recalling our best plays and some of our fondest fumbles. It was all in good fun and in the end I think we both felt that no matter how many plays we made work together, there simply wasn't enough of them strung together to earn a paycheck in the sport.
One topic that sticks with me was cut day. Believe it or not, there was a time when football athletes actually had to "try out" for the team and didn't just show up with a check and a sport physical to obtain a jersey. I don't think we ever came up with a concrete reason as to why there is less of that today but I for one don't think it is a bad thing if football was still a cut sport. hosting a tryout versus a camp could actually be healthy for all concerned, let me explain.
First and foremost, representing a school or program used to be regarded as a privilege and not necessarily a right. If the large majority of say senior athletes at a school all came out for the team, in most cases there would be more than a hundred players with jerseys and there simply isn't enough of them to go around with that many potential players. That said, there doesn't seem to be that many student athletes anywhere in our area that converge on the football field in early August hoping to make the cut which leads me to question why?
Has school enrollment dropped off that significantly? Is football now considered to be to violent a sport for kids to play? Or is it something more along the lines of less student pride in their schools? Maybe it's a combination of all or none I list but one thing is certain, there are not many football teams forced to make player cuts next week in preparation of the coming season.
Competition is not a bad thing and really I don't think cutting teams down to a sixty player maximum roster would do anything but help the sport. More is not necessarily better when it comes to football rosters and in the end the players who do ultimately earn a jersey are far more likely to cherish it than if just tossed to them when their check clears. In my book, anything worth while is worth working for and if there was more value placed on earning versus buying a jersey I think more teams would in the end win respect regardless of where they finished.
Perhaps I am just getting old and looking back on the past with rose colored lenses but I remember the day I earned my spot and my jersey. While there were many thoughts and emotions running through my teenaged head, none worried about playing time or position on that day. I was happy I was chosen to represent my school in this way and to be honest, I think the system worked just fine then and hope today that once a player earns his or hers number, they where it with the same kind of pride we did all those years ago.