The past two high school football seasons, I have had the good fortune to serve as the sideline reporter for a local radio station.
I enjoy the opportunity I have to be very close to all the excitement. Until last Friday nights game between Boylan and Guilford, which Boylan won 34-0, everything has been rewarding to witness. The encouragement from the coaches to their players is often inspiring.
Since Im almost 30 years older than many of the players Im standing amongst, it is often insightful to hear how they talk to each other, and how they focus on the game. I get to be as close as you can to the action without actually being in it. Its great.
That came to a screeching halt last week when I saw an adult member of the Guilford chain gang take a cheap shot at one of the Boylan players during the first half of the game. For those readers who may not know what the chain gang is, they are the guys assigned to keep track of the position of the ball on the field and the first-down markers. Sometimes, they are required to come onto the field for a measurement. It is a responsible position that should be held by a responsible adult. A moron, acting like a bully, shouldnt be doing the job. Unfortunately for everyone who saw what I did, thats who was working Friday.
Following a long Boylan pass completion, the chain gang was running down the sideline to mark the spot of the ball. Thats when one of their members purposely stuck out his left elbow and smacked it into the shoulder pads of an unsuspecting Boylan player. This player had his back turned and was watching the action in the other direction. He never saw this guy coming. I could not believe what I had just witnessed. This so-called adult was totally unprovoked and had no reason to do what he did. It was cowardly and despicable.
Because of the players shoulder pads, Im sure it didnt hurt him. In fact, Im sure it had more impact on me than it did him. I hated seeing that. It was an unprovoked incident and has no place in sports at any level.
I immediately went up to him and asked him, Why did you do that? He looked at me as if he had no clue what I was talking about. So I said, Why did you hit that kid in the back? Then, he knew he had been caught. It was unbelievable. He immediately became defensive. I told him it was totally uncalled for and asinine. The Boylan players who saw the same thing I did, thanked me.
I dont know if this knucklehead is a volunteer, or if he is actually getting paid to work the game. Whatever the situation, I hope someone will bring this to the attention of Guilfords athletic director. If he is able to figure out who is responsible, I hope he immediately decides to find a replacement for their chain gang.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Oct. 11-17, 2006, issue