John Bednarowski, MDJ’s esteemed sports editor, had a poignant piece recently about the ending of another high school football season here in Cobb County. While we have produced and continue to produce some outstanding individuals who will go on to play college football and a few perhaps who may make it to the professional level, many will take their jersey off for the last time. Bednarowski calls them “the glue,” the ones who make the others look good. Amen to that. I am the father of a former high school lineman and came to appreciate that the best quarterback on the planet can’t throw a football while sitting on his wazoo. Somebody has got to block. A lineman will make 30 or more blocks in a game, but if the poor guy commits one mistake while doing so, he gets identified publicly and everybody groans. It is usually the only time grunts get public recognition. Unfair.
We’ve got more blathering protest groups running around than a yard dog has fleas. I just wish they would take a break from railing about illegal immigration, dress codes, tearing down statues and Ukraine and join hands to push for a law giving linemen positive recognition for a good block equal to the negative response for a holding call. If that is not an equal rights issue, I don’t know what is. Heck, I will even furnish the bullhorn.
To those who have perhaps played their last competitive game of football, the values that have been instilled in you by your coaches will apply going forward whether you choose college, the workplace or the military. You will find out that there are no shortcuts in life. It is all about working hard and doing your best. Hopefully, the experiences on the football field have prepared you for the game of life.
There is another team to which these life lessons apply – the young men and women in the high school marching bands across the county. Our bands don’t get the publicity as do our athletes (except in this space) but they work no less hard. An unforgiving August sun shines as harshly on band practice as it does on football practice.
Like the football team, band members learn the value of teamwork and their role as a part of that team. Where football depends on how well 11 individuals do their job, the marching band must rely on some 200-plus members making the right moves at the right time.
A wide receiver who goes out eight yards instead of the 10 he was supposed to before making his cut, may or may not get noticed by spectators, but if the bass drummer takes a left when everybody else is going right and mows down the clarinets, you can’t miss it. Teamwork is teamwork whether you have on a helmet or a shako.
For many of the young footballers, the game will now become a spectator sport or a weekend activity until their knees tell them “no mas,” or until they become a volunteer coach and pass along to the next generation what they learned on the field. The love of the game never goes away.
On the other hand, band members have a skill that never goes away. There is no better proof of that than Cobb’s New Horizons Band, a 70-member symphonic band composed of musicians 50 years of age and older. And it is not the only band in town. There is the Marietta Symphony Orchestra, the Cobb Wind Symphony, the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, originally known as the Cobb Symphony, the Marietta Pops Orchestra, formerly known as Symphony of the Square, and probably some others I have missed (and no doubt will learn about in upcoming emails).
Whether you are a tight end or a tympanist, you are plying your skills in one of the best areas in the state. Cobb County has one of the finest football programs in Georgia, which, in turn, is considered one of the best states in the nation for producing football talent.
The marching bands are equally outstanding. The Sprayberry, Walton and Lassiter marching bands have all participated in the venerable New Year’s Day Rose Parade in Pasadena. Last I heard, more than 1,400 participate in their high school marching bands in Cobb County.
Finding information about the district’s outstanding music program on the CCSD webpage isn’t easy. If it is listed under “Departments” — of which there are 38 — they have hidden it well. On the other hand, athletics is easy to find as is chest-thumping by the communications department on their PR expertise — none of which includes media outreach.
I join John Bednarowski in saluting the young men who are winding up their high school football careers in Cobb County. Hopefully, they will have made enough good memories to last a lifetime.
And don’t forget those who made the music. They are heroes, too.