The Stadium

In traveling through 43 countries across six continents, we’ve seen quite a few ancient stadiums. From Rome’s definitive Coliseum to lesser known examples scattered around the world, we’ve explored many.

All share a sense of grandeur that matches the contests staged there, and as you wander about the stones, if you are open to it, you can hear the echoes of long-ago cheers and smell the musk of human striving.

I had those thoughts as I approached a coliseum last night. It too, rose above the surrounding terrain like a temple of glory.

 

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It too had towers piercing the sky.

 

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It too had cavernous chambers.

 

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But unlike the ancient stadiums I’ve explored, this one required being wanded by a metal detector for entry.

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Included a multi-tiered press box.

 

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And a video scoreboard featuring instant replay.

 

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So as the sun slipped below the horizon.

 

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And the teams erected their respective end zone cameras to record the action.

 

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I was treated to an American football game in a very impressive, modern stadium. The stadium was larger than many university stadiums we’ve seen in North America and around the world. It was larger, in fact, than some professional football stadiums we’ve seen overseas.

What university or professional team were we there to watch?

None.

I came to attend a Texas high school football game at a high school stadium.

 

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Not all Texas high school football games are played in stadiums this large or by teams so well staffed (14 coaches are listed on one team’s staff) and supported (thousands of fans drove over two hours to cheer for the visiting team).

 

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This game was a quarterfinal game in the Texas 5A state championship. 5A is the largest class in the state, for high schools (typically grades 9 – 12) with thousands of students.

There is another group of Texas teenagers who play American football for much smaller schools, some with only a few dozen to a few hundred pupils. Those schools are so small they cannot field a full 11 man American football team, so they play a version of the game that only uses six players on each side.

Those games are played at fields that lack video scoreboards and multi-level press boxes. Those games are played by kids that don’t wear cowboy boots as an affectation; they wear them as a matter of course.

 
Photo by Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

There is a wonderful story about the Texas kids who play six man American football, their coaches, and their towns here: http://www.statesman.com/sports/content/sports/stories/highschool/2009/11/15/1115sixman.html

 

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Unless otherwise credited, all photos by Douglas Hackney

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8 Responses to The Stadium

  1. The Mayor says:

    Doug,

    It’s always fun to hear about your experiences.

    The Mayor.

  2. Steph says:

    I know most everyone has heard the expression, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” Based on some of the experiences we have already had here, and this story and photos, I would say that statement rings true. Thanks for sharing the experience with us, hon.

  3. Melody says:

    Hey! Glad to see this in my email. It is always wonderful to get these. Hope all is well with your family and that you have a great holiday!

  4. JImmy Sones says:

    Doug, I love small towns…… De Leon,TX., Stevenville,TX., Dublin,TX. Madill,OK., 1/10 scale trains runnin’ round peeples yards.
    Thangs can be reel small in Texas too. An’ it’s good too…… cuz it makes reel people n’ great watermelon and peeches.
    Cain’t wait till summer…….YEE HA !
    TEXAS HAS A HOERR HOUSE IN IT !

  5. Adam hackney says:

    Man, I knew they were hard core with thier football in Texas but that’s pretty impressive. We have the Vikings still pushing for a billion dollar new statium up here with little luck but that’s a pretty good size spot for high school. I bet they had no trouble running that through the bond commitee.

  6. Ben Kenter says:

    Doug,
    Since I grew up in Texas your good friend Tara sent me this article and photos. You could publish a book on Texas HS football stadiums and the fans. I lived in a town of 27,000 where they stadium held 12,000, was sold out and had a waiting list for season ticket holders. Tailgating was normal on Friday nights. If a burgler wanted to make the heist of a lifetime, break in to homes during playoffs out of town. The police where at the games as well!
    Nothing like highschool football in Texas.
    By the way, since you relocated in Austin, and I’m a former Austinite check out the food at Vivos (just east of I35 at Manor) one night. It is the best!

  7. TERRY KNOTT says:

    Thanks Doug, we really have a fine country full of football fans and motorcyclists plus millions more —- worked the IMS show at Long Beach this past weekend and was very impressed with turnout and intrest shown by all —- we may be in an economic slump but people aren’t running around shouting “WOE IS ME” — Take care, Terry

  8. Brett Barton says:

    Thank you, Doug. After moving from Missouri to Sugar Land, Texas in August; my family and I are continually amazed at the football stadiums that are constructed at the schools across Texas. Some of the schools themselves are monumental in presence and stature. I can only hope that the knowledge and curriculum that is being taught to these students’ is equally impressive.

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