2009.06.03 All those hatless heads

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I saw such a funny sight at the state track meet Saturday. I should have noticed it in the past, but I think the sun made the difference.

I was standing near the high jump pit when the National Anthem was played—wait a minute, since when was there a pit at the high jump event? Fifty years ago?

And now I feel another digression coming on. I just don’t understand the concept of playing the National Anthem at every sporting event in the country. Why are we reminded of the rockets red glare before the hockey puck is dropped? Why are we given the image of bombs bursting in air before the first pitch is thrown?

Suppose all four stanzas of Francis Scott Key’s poem were used?

On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,

Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

I’ve heard it played so many times over so many years of sports coverage that I now quickly assess how each version is going to play out. Will it be one of those really s-l-o-w deliveries that seem to drag on forever or will it come through as a peppier rendition?

At high school football games, it’s almost always live. A school band shows its skills or lack thereof. At high school basketball games, a pep band might provide the music or—I really dread this one—a student, almost always a female, will sing the song.

Twenty years ago it might have been sung, either well or badly, in a straightforward manner. Now, the singer has to mimic some singing star who shows off with a range of tones instead of a single note. It’s like turning a one-syllable word into one with five.

And the crowd loves it and I realize, once again, that I really don’t belong in that gymnasium, that I really don’t deserve to hear the performance, that I’m just a jaded, tired old misanthrope who can’t control his cynicism. But it’s my job and I must be there.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.

So there I was Saturday at Forest Hills Eastern High School awaiting the National Anthem. Actually, it was the second time of the day. “The perilous fight” was played out in the morning before the first heat of the 100-meter dash preliminaries.

That was back when I first started reading the slogan shirts that are responsible for athletes’ performances. A lot of those kids never would have made it to the state meet if they hadn’t worn a T-shirt all season that read: “Do work son.” I think on the front it read “Commas are overrated.”

How about this: “My blood, my sweat, your tears.”

Here’s another: “Run hard or run home.”

A Christian school turned to the Old Testament to urge its athletes to “run with endurance.” How about this Bible message T-shirt: “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.”

So I’ve been to too many sporting events in the past 30 years.

OK, I was standing by the high jump mound waiting for Phoenix Duncan to do her thing. She had already fallen short of her best in the long jump and was probably hoping to make up for it in the high jump.

She approaches the bar almost dead-on rather from the side and I was standing off to the side so I wouldn’t be in her view.

But it was time for the Star Spangled Banner and gentlemen were asked to remove their hats to show respect.  Women, on the other hand, were allowed to wear their hats because head-gear on a woman shows no disrespect.

All right, I won’t go into that. I’m probably already due letters to the editor accusing me of being unpatriotic.

The music began. It was moderate in speed, but it was done so well that it didn’t matter if it dragged. Wonderful brass.

I couldn’t look up at the flag because of the position of the sun, so I looked straight ahead and saw hundreds of men without their caps. It was hilarious. Men always wear hats at sporting events. Bald spots, funny hat hair, matted down hair...all these strangely uncovered heads all o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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