We’ve all heard it said, “familiarity breeds contempt.” Those of us who have spent any years on earth with any other humans for extended periods of time know first hand the truth of this cliché. This adage applies in so many facets of our lives, from our home life, work life and yes, our sporting life.
Some of the greatest rivalries have been built on this “contempt.” For example: Georgia/Georgia Tech, the annual contest dubbed, “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.” But there’s also Auburn/Alabama, the New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox…and more recently Grayson/Archer. Despite the bad blood and desires for the demise of the “enemy” in such heated battles, there is a greater good.
(Now, I have been known to abuse the literary devices of sensationalism and/or sentimentality for provocation. It is not, however, the intention of this meager article. Maybe next time.)
As our family drove to church Sunday morning down the flag-draped main street of the village of Grayson, my wife noted how she loved seeing the colors on display. It was then I was taken back, just two days prior, to the Grayson/Archer game, played on a warm September 11th evening under the bright lights of Community Stadium at Grayson High.
Ours was an evening like many others, I’m sure, in attendance. Parents left work a little early, kids adorned themselves with themed garb and body paint, and so many tailgated in the parking lot. Food, always so much food. En route to the game, cars painted in green and gold rolled up Hope Hollow and down from town via Hwy. 20. Cars painted red and white and flying the flags and banners of Archer streamed up Ozora. What was once one school district had become two.
Archer was built to accommodate the overflowing population in the Grayson cluster. This forced divide created the annual autumnal drama pitting neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, and church member against church member. Ours is a community of diverse plurality — we are a people separated by any number of beliefs, faiths, and college football affiliations. So antipathy is nothing new. We are good at being independent and antagonistic.
And we also know how to behave like gentle folk as well.
Too often we see the madness and insanity that is cultured among people at opposition to one another, whether it is in the seriousness of elected power or the frivolity of youth sports. The myriad of YouTube videos of fathers and mothers engaging in fisticuffs at t-ball games, or church soccer games, occupy too much space in the national consciousness. But when there’s good-natured competition, where the whole town turns out and nothing happens to make the news, I believe that is something to be proud of.
It’s also something we should continue to strive for.
As far as the game goes, I believe that many would agree that performance of both teams far exceeded the hype; it was a game to be remembered for quite some time. It was a hard-fought game by two teams whose on-field behavior was tenacious yet respectable.
Understand that I’m only writing from my perspective, from about halfway up the bleachers on the Grayson side, somewhere around the 35 yard line toward the north end zone. I’m sure there was some smack talk and pushing and shoving, but it is, after all, football. I saw both sides cheer for any injured player that hobbled off the field. I saw two marching bands play as one during the halftime show, honoring the warriors from all the military branches past and present. I also saw two school families stand under one anthem and “God Bless America.” And cliché as this all may be, it’s a reminder for me to recall the greater things among the hectic and distracting post-modern society we find ourselves in. It’s what makes me proud of our town and our community.
At least those are the mere thoughts I had driving under the American flags on a quiet Sunday morning, the calm after the storm that shook Grayson Friday night.