Sports Then

Posted 2/2/20

Sports were basically a non-issue as I was growing up. I never attended or participated in any type of sporting events until I entered high school. I played trombone in the marching band, beginning …

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Sports Then

Posted

Sports were basically a non-issue as I was growing up. I never attended or participated in any type of sporting events until I entered high school. I played trombone in the marching band, beginning in my sophomore year, where we performed at football games. Until then I have no recall as to ever having attended even a school sponsored sporting event.  Consequently, it is difficult for me to accurately separate the ‘then’ part from the ‘now’ part as I write this. There appears to be limited changes in the sports field during my eighty years, however, it has been pointed out to me that sports have made a drastic change during that period of time. These changes have been made possible by mandates whose purposes are to insure that everyone can be involved as a participant. As I reflect back on my earlier years, there were only three sports that I remember as being significant, those being football, baseball, and basketball. I always expected an enterprising, sports-minded person to develop a new sport which would capture enthusiasm as did baseball, basketball, and football. If a person can take a ball, stick, and bases; a ball and a basket, or an egg shaped ball played on a one hundred yard field with strips, why can’t somebody come up with something new and exciting? Football was king in the south then, and continues to wear the crown. Both baseball and basketball had a loyal following then, as they do now.

When young, I sided with the football loving crowd as their games were the only ones that I was able to attend, this being high school games. Football in Alabama has always been dominated by the University of Alabama. Auburn comes in second but they have never seemed to be able to gain the upper hand, although there have been years when Auburn has won the bragging rights, the recent past an example. I am aware that there are loyal Auburn fans who will take issue with this assessment of their beloved Tigers being in second place, and one cannot question their loyalty. To them, I encourage that they keep rolling that toilet paper as the paper companies can use the business. If Alabama fans can roll their Crimson Tide, Auburn fans should be free to roll their toilet paper until the weight breaks the limbs of those young oak trees, those paper companies could use the additional business. Considering the most recent outcome of this match up, could a new trend be in the making? Now this is just a thought, and I am not suggesting anything. I feel quite sure that Alabama fans are quite confident that this is not the case!  Next year?   

There were a number of players from the area in which I grew up who played football at Auburn as well as Alabama. Players such as Lloyd Nix and Morris Salvage were players on Auburn championship teams. Others who played there such as David Campbell won All American honors. There are also many names of players that could be mentioned who played at the University of Alabama and were part of championship seasons, such as Brian Diehl who was a punter on Gene Stalling's championship winning team.     

High School football has always been a major attraction, with many local schools throughout the years having won State Championships in their classifications. The same can be said about other sports such as baseball and basketball. Winning teams have always been a source of pride to students and alumni.

Baseball has come in second to football during my journey over Fool’s Hill. It never appealed to me as a spectator sport because the action is too slow. There have been several baseball players from this area who played minor league ball, but I am not aware of any who made it to the big leagues.

Basketball is a sport that I could never play or enjoy watching it being played. I have never been a fan of basketball. Players, to effectively play the game, are at a great advantage if they are closely related to a tree. Basically, if one cannot grow to a height that allows them to dunk the ball, another sport may be a better choice in which to play. Alabama, unlike Kentucky, Indiana, the Carolinas and some Northern states, has never embraced the game as it has football.  

Women sports such as volleyball, softball, basketball, gymnastics, track, cross country, and other choices offer the opportunity to be active in sporting events. Bands, cheer leading, choirs, dances and other activities allow all students to become involved in extra-curricular school activities if so desired.

Track was offered as a sport in some schools while others did not. Only a select few sports programs seemed to take an interest in supporting a track and field team. A limited number of students found interest in running and jumping as their everyday activities required them to complete daily chores which left little surplus energy to run and jump in an organized sport. Another limitation by many students was the means to attend practices on a regular basis. Many lived in the country, and their only means of transportation was by school bus. Activities following bus departure time were many times curtailed as the families had no means to provide the necessary transportation. In addition, many students had to get home in time to complete their chores.