Saturday night, the Monrovia High School Wildcats will play in the first and semi-final round of the State Championship playoffs. It is a once in a lifetime honor for the school. Despite having won the California Interscholastic Federation's Southern Section championship in their division for the last three consecutive years, a feat akin to winning the Super Bowl three years in a row, they've never had the honor of playing for the State crown.
You should go. Whether you are a football fan or not, a parent of a current, future or past MHS student or not, an alumnus or not, you should go.
Don't go for the hyper-active boosters or fawning parents. Don't go for 40-something has-beens posting trashy blogs. Don't go for scouts who too often sully what should be a kids' sport, or reporters who treat high school sports like the NFL.
But, do go for the kids. Go for the community. Go for Monrovia.
Go for a no-name, third string, junior defensive lineman who may not play a down, but has been sweating his guts out since summer two-a-days. Show him that hard work pays off, and that success drives success.
Go for George Frazier V, and his impressive running displays. That alone can be worth the price of admission, even if you know nothing about football.
Go for coach Ryan Maddox. Don't go because he's churned out four teams in a row that played for the division championship, and three that won it. Go because he's taught a lot of young men something about character.
Go because somewhere on that team is a kid who's had an uphill climb in life, and this may be his only moment of glory.
Go because Monrovia, at 40,000 residents, is a small town by comparison to the rest of LA, yet there's still precious little that we can all truly rally around. This is a great thing we can all be proud of in a venue at which a lot of people can gather.
Go for parents who spend money they don't have to give their kid an extra something on the field. Show up, yell, and let your echo strike their ears as "thank you."
Go for parents who've been in the snack bar week after week, doing the right thing when a lot of parents do not.
Go for MHS Principal Darvin Jackson, a remarkably dedicated man who puts in countless hours. There are many thigns he's been part of that are equally or more praiseworthy. But which others have a stadium to cheer for him in?
There are reasons not to go. Expenditures on athletic programs and facilities when MUSD is laying off staff are legitimately questionable. Worshipping athletic feats that won't generate jobs is a plague on our society. The fact that I can tell you names of football players but not last year's valedictorian is in-itself a statement of misprioritization.
I fully agree with all of these points. I had a friend in high school who's ahletic abilities trumpeted in banner headlines in the Tribune, none larger than when he chose a university to attend. When his academic failings kept him out of that university, the Tribune somehow failed to mention it. He was last seen in the county jail, still with no headlines.
But a silent protest of absence is not appropriate for Saturday night.
Part of our community has reached the elite. These kids have worked too hard and come too far to not enjoy your support. Every seat in the house should be filled with a green cheering machine, not out-of-towners gawking at the spectacle. So, get there well before the 7:30 kick-off, buy a greasy snack-bar dinner then go yell and scream to keep yourself warm.
There might be more constructive things to do on a Saturday night. But none that will be as good for our community. Or, I'm willing to bet, your soul.