Take the Super Bowl, for instance. No sporting event receives as much pre-game publicity as this one game, yet sometimes it fails to be very exciting and fans wind up watching the commercials more than the game itself.
The football match up between the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers and the Fairmont Cardinals received a lot of hype. It featured two talented state-ranked teams going head to head. Not to mention being conference rivals and fighting for the Little Brown Jug.
This game lived up to all its hype.
The 3,000 fans that showed up certainly got their money’s worth. It was a hard fought, hard hitting, tough defensive battle.
The Buccaneers’ drive down the field at the end of the first half was one of the most drama filled moments I’ve seen in a while. Especially when they wound up scoring on a play that was run after the clock had expired for the half.
Yes, the Bucs led in all the stats columns except that first one that actually counts for something – the score.
But, for true football fans, the game itself is one that is going to be remembered for quite a while.
It was a heckuva great game. In many ways.
But, don’t just take my word for it. There were some other people at the game with a lot more football savvy, experience and knowledge than I.
One is the University of Minnesota head football coach, Jerry Kill.
Now, most of us figure that Coach Kill was at the game to look over one of his new recruits, Buccaneer lineman Jonah Pirsig. And, perhaps take a look at another Buc lineman.
However, Coach Kill said during halftime that he was unable to comment on that speculation, due to NCAA rules.
“I just heard this was going to be a really great football game, so I thought I would come here to Blue Earth and check it out,” he said.
When I asked him at halftime what he thought so far, he said the game was indeed terrific.
“This is what high school football is all about,” he said. “Two great teams, a huge crowd and a close game.”
The coach also had some nice comments about the town of Blue Earth and all the people he had met that evening. “There are a lot of really nice friendly people here. This is a great town.”
Another football expert at the game was Jack Shawn, the referee and head of the officiating crew.
He was so impressed by what he saw that he wrote a letter to Kevin Merkle, the associate director of the Minnesota State High School League.
In the letter he says that in his 46 years of officiating, this game was one of the most positive experiences he has had. He specifically refers to the sportsmanship he witnessed throughout the game by both teams.
“There was some hard hitting, but after each play members of both teams helped each other up – not just their own teammates but also the opponents,” he wrote.
The ref noted that the team captains, when told of the reason for a penalty, asked who it was on. Once advised, the captains commented, “Thanks, I will talk to him and take care of that.”
Shawn also had a lot of nice things to say about the Buccaneer fans.
“When we left the field after the game ended, we received many complimentary comments from the hometown fans, even though their team had just lost,” he wrote. “What a positive lesson they provided to the players and students! While this was a tough loss for them, they recognized that this was only a game. The real lesson they learned was one called ‘life.’”
“Unfortunately, too much time is spent today on teaching our kids they ‘must’ win,” he continued. “That was not the case Friday evening. I don’t know what these schools or this conference is doing to promote this type of sportsmanship, but I commend them and recommend it to all the schools and conferences in the state. The message they are sending is one that will make these young men and women so much more prepared for what lies ahead for them.”
He ends the letter by thanking Blue Earth Area and Fairmont high schools for setting the high standards that they did last Friday night with their outstanding sportsmanship and values.
High praise for the players, coaches, parents and fans from BEA and Fairmont. And something to be just as proud of as who won or lost.
Both were winners in the sportsmanship category.