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THANKSGIVING FOOTBALL: A tie that still binds

Good morning. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

I know. It’s a busy day. You might not have time to read this story.

If there’s one sentence that can penetrate, let it be this one: Go out and watch a high school football game this morning.

It’s what, 8 or 9 o’clock? Dinner’s not for hours and you’ve still got time before kickoff.

And what are you doing instead? The leaves have been raked and the patio furniture put away. If they haven’t, are you really about to tackle that now?

The dog has been walked. The bird feeder is filled.

And someone else is probably doing the cooking.

You don’t even have to bundle up. It’s maybe mid-30s out there now, but it’s sunny. The wind is light and it’ll be well into the 40s by the second half. It’s one of those late November days that always seem warmer than they actually are.

The drive will be no worse — and far shorter — than your morning commute. Besides, you’re local. You know the side roads.

And it won’t cost much. Thankgiving ticket prices seem immune to current inflationary trends.

What are we talking? $10 bucks? Go see a big-league game on that. Heck, go buy a big-league beverage on that.

And the games should be really good. All three area contests are expected to be competitive and close.

There are playoff implications in the Stoddard Bowl between Platt and Maloney at Falcon Field in Meriden, playoff implications in the Apple Classic between Cheshire and Southington in Ramland.

(In a nutshell, Platt and Cheshire had better win; Maloney and Southington are in and playing for home-field advantage.)

There are no playoff implications in the Carini Bowl between Lyman Hall and Sheehan at Riccitelli Field, but it is the 50th anniversary of the Wallingford rivalry game. If you played in one of the 49 previous editions, isn’t your attendance pretty much required?

This is Sheehan head coach John Ferrazzi’s 17th Carini Bowl, Lyman Hall head coach C.J. Monroe’s first.

Ferrazzi is the area’s longest-tenured coach. Monroe is the new kid on the block. Both are energetic, focused program-builders who see the big picture. They are the sort of coach/educator that high school sports, and thus all of sport — for what pro athlete is not first a kid? —must have to carry on with some modicum of integrity.

Now, I recognize this is the point at which you might interject: “Sports? What do they matter, what with climate change, war in Ukraine, toxic American politics and the price of the turkey I just purchased?”

True. Standing on their own, what do sports matter beyond keeping kids active, teaching them life lessons and distracting us grown-ups from whatever may be vexing us, if only for a little while?

It means they actually matter quite a bit.

But there’s more to it. Sports keep us tethered to one another, especially in frayed times such as these. I’ll take a little rah-rah of community sports to drown out the Beltway and cable TV loud-mouths bent on driving us apart.

I imagine you’re less inclined to yell at the guy two doors down who flies a Trump flag or plants a Black Lives Matter sign if you’re both rooting for the kid who lives between you.

And, in the end, that’s the ultimate reason why you should grab your keys. Go to a high school football game because, for a number of players and cheerleaders and musicians and kids in the stands, today will be the last one, and once that door closes, it closes for good.

You know this because you were that kid once. And with each passing year, as you’ve raked the leaves and put away the patio furnit ure and walked the dog and filled the bird feeder and cooked Thanksgiving dinner and driven to work and stretched a dollar, you’ve marveled at how fast life truly goes.

So, on this morning, freeze-frame a moment, even if it belongs to someone else. Better, in fact, that it does. Treasures of richest value lay beyond the self.

Though, in this case, you’re certainly in the frame, too. Parents and grandparents were there once for you. So were the parents and grandparents of other kids.

It’s one of those “village” things, and it’s your turn. Head out that door. Step into that November sun.


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