Giving thanks to God our Father at all times for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is not hard at all when you are sitting in Neyland Stadium watching Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic Kick-Off Classic. For fifty years now this event has marked the beginning of high school football in East Tennessee. This year’s edition featured 20 schools from the Knoxville and the surrounding area.
It is a glorious time of year when young men step onto the gridiron. This year is special because my youngest son is a freshman at Karns High School. His role in tonight’s contest was minimal. He stood next to offensive coordinator and helped signal in plays. But he did it while standing on the sideline of Shields-Watkins Field with Eric Berry’s eyes peering down at him from the new jumbotron high atop Neyland Stadium.
Football, especially in high school, middle school and youth league is a wonderful game. The same could be said of all sports that young people play. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot always be said when adults are playing sports. All too often the headlines for the major professional sports include notices of behavior that we do not tolerate from our young people. Somehow we have arrived at the point in our society where exceptional athletic ability excuses everything from breaking rules to criminal activity. Some athletes make choices that reflect poorly on not only themselves but also on their teammates and the sport they play. That is all the more reason for us to be thankful for those athletes who live their lives in such a way that we are happy for our youth to look up to them.
Even still the best football is played on Friday night by young men who take the field in front of family, classmates and neighbors. Sure they may dream of playing in college or even in the NFL, but on Friday night they play for the fun of the game, school pride and for a chance to a part of a team. May God bless and keep them.