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Look before you yell at ballgames
The Back Forty
By Roger Pond

Well, they’ve finally done it. The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) has stretched college football into the fourth day of January and is threatening to expand the games even further. There were 28 bowls this year, according to my count.

I would just as soon have a few games on New Year’s day and get it over with. That’s what we used to do.

Everyone just sat around New Year’s day - eating and griping about the referees. That way we wasted New Year’s day, but we didn’t waste three weeks.

When the games were over we said, “Just wait ‘til next year,” and went home.

I will admit this year’s Rose Bowl game was well played and full of excitement, but the Orange Bowl was so ugly I went to bed during the second overtime.

I started out rooting for Penn State in the Orange Bowl, but by the fourth quarter I was yelling, “Come on Joe, quit arguing with the refs and watch the game!”

The announcers tried to make a big deal out of the match-up between Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden, but I can’t see why. They’re both too old to play, as far as I can tell.

All of that fumbling around in the Orange Bowl game reminded me of the night my buddy, Ron, and I sat in the stands at a high school football game. Ron was a bit of a cut-up in those days, and our teachers claimed the two of us together were like a match and a gas leak.

The game was nearing the end of the first half, and our team was way behind. Ron and I had been shouting encouragement all night. “Hold on to the ball, butterfingers! What’s the matter with you guys? Why don’t you put in the cheerleaders?”

We thought it was encouragement, anyway.

That’s when I noticed the woman sitting in front of us. She was all dressed up with her hair pulled back in one of those tight, little buns popular in the early 1960s. I thought this woman looked familiar but put it out of my mind.

Just then our center snapped the ball. The quarterback handed off to the fullback, who tossed the ball to the halfback, who gave it back to the quarterback, who dropped it on the ground. And the other team recovered the fumble.

“What’s the matter with you guys? Where are they getting those plays?” Ron shouted.

That’s when the lady with the hornet’s nest hairdo turned around, and I remembered where I had seen her. She was the coach’s wife. This woman looked at my buddy Ron in such a way I worried she might melt the bolts in the bleachers we were sitting on. Even after all these years, I have no idea how a woman could stare at someone that long without blinking. (Unless the tension on that coiffure had something to do with it.)

That football game was a real lesson for me. To this day, I never sit down at a sporting event without asking, “Is this seat taken? And is anyone around here a good friend of the coach?”

Published in the January 18, 2006 issue of Farm World.