Bleacher Creatures

This weekend was the start of the New Jersey State High School Football Playoffs, and being an avid follower I thought I would write a Whack about one facet of high school football that everybody could relate to: the fans.

High school football has become almost a weekend ritual in towns and cities across America. In high school football hotbeds, such as here in northern New Jersey, crowds pack the stadiums every Friday night and Saturday afternoon to cheer on their local teams. A large variety of people attend high school football games, and it is possible to classify them into certain groups.

The first group of high school football fans is the students. Now there are two types of students, the student who actually cares about the game and comes to give his school support, and the student who cares little about the game and comes because he or she views it as a social event. The first type is usually found in private high schools and public schools with good teams. The purpose of students of this type is to stand together in one section of the bleachers and occasionally come through with what they think is a clever chant. The second type is usually found in most high schools, especially ones with a bad team, and they always come out in their greatest number for Friday night games. Students of this type serve no purpose except to annoy true fans with their nonstop talking about anything besides the game.

The second group of high school football fans is the parents of the players. Parents, of course, can be separated into two groups, mother and fathers. Mothers are one of the worst groups to be sitting nearby during a high school football games. Mothers come to games with their seat cushions and their blankets, they all sit together, and they all yell obnoxiously while ringing their cowbells. Father are not much better, and are usually the group with the least class at a high school football game. Fathers stand on the top row of bleachers, they constantly whine about the bad refs, and in suburban and private high schools they criticize every mistake of the few black players, while in urban high schools they blame everything that goes wrong on the white coach.

A third group of fans is the old timers. The old timers are a small group that are usually only found in large high schools with a tradition of winning football. Old timers are in their sixties and seventies, they have never missed a game since the great war, and if they had their way the forward pass would be banned in high school football.

Another group is the alumni. For public schools the alumni fans are a small group that guys in their twenties wearing five year old varsity jackets. However, for private high schools, this is a large group. Private high school alumni are in their late forties, they talk more business than football, and they are dressed alike in Dockers and sweaters.

The next, and significant, group of fans is the band and band parents. Luckily private high schools don't have bands and don't have to deal with this group. The band, especially in large high schools, just take up way too much space in the bleachers. But bands are an important part of the high school football experience. The only problem is that after half-time they rarely play again. The band members just stand by their instruments socializing, and they are never heard of again. Then there are band parents. Band parents are the single worst group to be stuck sitting near at a high school football game. Band parents know very little about the sport of football. The sole reason they attend games is to watch their son or daughter perform in the half-time show. Band parents do not care about the outcome of the game, and can be seen many times leaving a close game well before it is over.

The final group of high school football fans is the high school football follower. The high school football follower travels all around the state, and only attend the best games. They always sit, with their programs open, in the upper corner of the bleachers, near the scouts. They see each other many times at games, they usually talk about power points and state playoffs, and the biggest thrill for a high school football follower is to see a local sports reporter in person.

Well I think I wrote more than enough for this week, so to conclude, a large variety of people can be found at a high school football game, they come from many different places and for different reasons, and in essence, the bleachers at a high school football game can be thought of as one big melting pot.

Now for this week's special feature, Feff's top ten high school football powerhouses in northern New Jersey:

10. Dover
9. Nutley
8. Morris Knolls
7. Delbarton
6. Elizabeth
5. Montclair
4. Bergen Catholic
3. Union
2. Randolph
1. Hopatcong