The Top Out of View
Starting in 1969, the author coached high school football for forty-two seasons. Most recently, in 2014, he coached American football in Lugano, Switzerland. His “Football Coaching Tips” have appeared at www.fbwinnipeg.com every Thursday since March, 2013. The author is also a contributing writer of “The Soul of Sport”, due for release by University of Notre Dame Press in August, 2015.
American high school football is woven into the fabric of our country’s culture. In one sense it is only a game, an activity to keep young men productively busy, a Friday night diversion, an energizing community-unifying activity.
But beneath the froth lies something deeper, and it shows itself in a thousand subtle ways. It is high school ball as process, as incubator, as revealer.
That side of the game can be worth a closer look.
In a series of short, free verse, narrative poems, the writer, a high school coach for more than four decades, draws from his experiences to highlight another part of the game, the one that lies just out of view.
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cut hair mingled blond black brown red
shiny curling still alive
on the floor where the haircuts had been.
we swept it up and buried it
in the middle of the practice field,
a private sacrifice ritual.
once the cutting was done
each player had swiped his hand over the bristles
and swallowing doubt declared: i like it.
what choice did any of them have
when wherever they looked
they saw only themselves?