Saturday, September 08, 2007

More on Football

Last night we attended another worship service football game. The kids had a great time, but we didn't enjoy it as much. During last week's game we had some trouble seeing the action because the people in front of us kept standing up to cheer and blocked our view. So, we thought we would employ some strategery and get front row seats.

This wasn't such a good idea. You see, in my video I posted in my previous post, you saw all the kids that run out on to the field ahead of the football players, right? Ok... so where do you think the kids come from? Yup... The stands. And how do they get on the field? Like a herd of lemmings they rush out of the stands, down along the front row and jump into the field.

So then, when the big hurrah is over, how do they get back into the stands? Um.. well, let's just say that when they decide to come climbing back into the stands, it's not a good idea to be trying to eat cheesy nachos with jalapeƱos (yum). They scamper into the stands wherever they can find a spot, often with the help of adults who lean over the rail to pull the young'uns into the stands. This wouldn't be all so bad really... I mean, it's all in good fun right?

The problem is, they didn't leave. So, we enjoyed the rest of the game surrounded by 3 - 8 year olds. It was a little crowded. Plus, they have all been well trained to stand up and yell and cheer. Since they were sitting all around us and on the floor in front of us with their legs hanging over the edge, they blocked our view when they stood up. So much for the front row seats and unblocked views. hehe.

We had a great time anyway. Also, we knew several of the kids who ended up sitting around us who had been in Hope's Kindergarten class last year.

The game was a complete blowout. The team we played (Sweetwater Mustangs) had beaten us last year and we were expecting a pretty good match. The Lions were on top of their game, especially the defense. We won 55-7. I don't think the Mustangs made it past their own 40 yard line during the first 3 quarters. In a way this was fun to watch, but it wasn't as exciting/suspenseful as last week's game with Wylie where the teams were more evenly matched.

Oh yeah... and I'm definitely going to have to get myself one of those cow bells before the next home game, but that won't be until Oct 5th.

Here's some more pictures:

The Bell:

Huge LCD Display and The Tunnel that the players run out of:

I once dreamed of making a huge spud gun. They use this air-powered one to launch rolled up t-shirts into the crowd. Sometimes they get a little carried away with the air compressor and end up launching the t-shirt over the stadium where some lucky soul in line at the concession stand gets blessed with a Brownwood Lions t-shirt from the heavens:

T-shirt in flight to lucky recipient:

Lionettes performing with the band:

Monday, September 03, 2007

34th Annual World Championship Goat Bar-B-Que Cook Off

On Saturday, we decided to do something fun and different. We went to the 34th annual World Championship Goat Bar-B-Que Cookoff in Brady, TX.

There was a sea of people there.

There were 150 teams cooking goat in good old fashioned Texas Style:

This feller here... he's got it made. He's got hisself (that's a Texas word) a trailer mounted pit Bar-B-Que, a little ol' pick 'em up, a Magellen tent, and he's fixin' hisself some goat.

These guys here even have a pink flamingo on their trailer. Notice, no one down here uses charcoal, just wood...especially mesquite.

Finally, there were a bunch of vendors with arts and crafts, and fun stuff for the kids to do. We let the kids go to a "duck pond". Each of them picked out a rubber ducky from the pond and won a prize:

We didn't actually eat any goat. Anna and the kids didn't want any, and I'd already had some when John and Shirley visited us in July. Instead, we had lunch at McDonald's and then headed home.

Texas Football

I've heard about what a big deal high school football is in Texas, and have seen a lot of proof of this at work. I must confess that I really have never been to a high school football game in Texas. Until now. On Friday night we took the kids to the home opener for the Brownwood Lions vs the Abilene Wylie Bulldogs. This, my friends, was an experience.

Growing up in western Wisconsin I went to a few high school football games. We paid a buck or two to get in and sat on some cold, wet, rickety metal bleachers. The field was muddy and cold; the band was lackluster. It was a pretty low key affair with attendance of 200 - 250 people. But hey, we all had a good time anyway.

The differences were apparent from the moment we arrived. We got to the stadium 30 minutes before kickoff. The very large parking lot was full. We parked in the grass near the highway with several dozen other vehicles. As we walked up to the stadium I started to notice the vendors. They had the normal concession stand stuff, but they also had vendors selling funnel cakes, t shirts, foam hands, bells, flags, stadium seats, and just about anything else you can think of with the Brownwood Lions logo on it. (Think State Fair here.)

So, we make our way through the line of people buying tickets and finally get up to the little booth. The lady asked me where I wanted to sit. I said, "You mean I can't just get a ticket and go sit wherever?"

"No, we have assigned seats here son."

"Oh, OK.. uhh.. Is there a difference in price?"

"Nope, they're all $6 each."

So, I dished over $18 for tickets. (They let Tori in for free). I looked at the tickets. These weren't the little rolled up tickets stubs we had back home. These are printed color tickets with the team logo on the front, along with our section, row, and seat numbers. They looked more like the tickets we used to get for a Twins game than the ones you'd get for a highschool football game.

Tickets in hand, we went into Gordon Wood Stadium. "The Wood". This is where our opponents come so we can "take the wood to 'em". This is were Central Texans make their pilgrimage for their Friday night religious experience.

Right. So we found our seats with the help of an usher. Yup. We have ushers.

The place was packed. The stadium is a little different than what I'm used to. It's concrete. We have artificial turf. The team name is emblazened on the turf in the end zones and the Lions logo is on the 50 yard line. At one end zone is the score board. On the other, a huge full color LCD display. We later learned that the screen is used for the instant replays from the camera crew on the field. uh huh. We have camera crews on the field and instant replay. The game is also carried on TV.

I don't have any idea how many people were in attendance, but there were a lot. uh... did I mention that there are only 20,000 people in this town? I think they were all there, including the entire police force. They, of course, were "on duty" to "provide security". The police officers all looked like they were really enjoying their work. Everyone was wearing team logo wear, except us. Everyone also carried a cow bell emblazened with a lion which they rang. A lot.

Cheerleaders. There were regular high school cheerleaders and a color guard. We also had "Lionettes". These were cheerleaders in cowgirl-like outfits. Then, there were junior cheerleaders, who I guess were in middle school or junior high. Then, there was a hoard of young girls between 4 and 7 out there in their little cheerleading outfits. Down on the track near the field, there was also a trailer with a large bell mounted on it, like a church bell with a set of handlers to ring it when appropriate. Finally, there was another group of support people who did various things like shoot T Shirts into the crowd using a compressed air spud gun. There were also two guys breakdancing. Still don't understand that one. Maybe next time they'll have some people out there boot scootin'.

Oh yeah... We have a mascot. A big lion. It must've been 90 degrees outside and that poor soul was standing there in a lion suit.

So, after a few delays due to a lightning watch, the time came for the teams to emerge. Cheerleaders lined the field. Guys carrying flags with our logo and team name on them fell in between the cheerleaders. A set of handlers set up a huge ( probably 20 ft tall by 30 ft wide banner with the team name on it. On the end of the field a bunch of kids lined up in front of a large gate. I began to see the players mass up behind the gate. Guns and Roses' Welcome to the Jungle started blaring over the PA system. Smoke started coming out of the tunnel. The bell on the cart started tolling. People in the crowd screamed, yelled, rang bells, jumped up and down in nearly a pentecostal fervor. The gates opened and the hoard of kids ran out on to the field followed by our team. They came across the field and assembled behind the big banner. After a few seconds they broke through the banner on to the field.

The coaches (Yes, there's more than one. Actually, there's an entire coaching staff.) They all wore Motorola headsets, just like in the pros.

The teams took the field and began to play. There were mistakes made, but overall, I was impressed by the discipline and execution of both sides on the field. The players were huge, with some of our linebackers breaking 320 lbs. The QB wasn't perfect, but he had a lot of talent and termendous arm. He could fling the football faster than I could throw a baseball. I guess that isn't saying much. hehe.

Anyhoo... In the end, the home team prevailed 28 - 21. Mind you, our school is about half the size of the opponents. We dressed 38 players to their 80.

I could hardly believe it all. It was neat to go, and I can actually say that we had a really good time.

The kids enjoyed it too. They got to:

1) Drink Pop
2) Eat Popcorn
3) Yell
4) Scream
5) Jump Up and Down
6) Eat Pickles
7) Eat Candy
8) Eat Nachos
9) Stay up way past their bedtime

Tori woke up on Saturday and asked if we were going to go to another game.

Probably Tori... Probably.