Chris Johnson: The sounds of football season

September 15, 2013 

Is there anything better than the symphony of sounds that compose high school football in the Peach State?

Yes, winning the lottery. Sure, having a genie pop out of a bottle and granting you six wishes on Genie Coupon Day. And, yes, your doctor telling you, "You're going to have to eat a lot more bacon!" Geez! I was just trying to make a rhetorical introduction to a column. Don't be so literal.

Of course, football also is a feast for the other senses -- the sight of a perfect pass sailing through the lights toward a wide-open receiver; the feel of a hard, cold metal bleacher on your backside; the taste of juicy burgers right off the booster club's grill; and that unmistinkable smell wafting over the locker room after sweaty players come in soaking wet after practicing in record heat and torrential rain. OK, that last one ain't so wonderful. As someone who once covered August training camps in South Georgia, it's a smell you'll never forget -- stings the nostrils, as Ron Burgundy would say.

I love many sounds of a football Friday night -- the fight song as a team charges onto the field; the whistle before the opening kickoff; the crash of pads when a fullback and linebacker collide; and that unmistakable "owww!" when cheerleaders throw little plastic footballs into grandma's eye after a touchdown.

But there are a good many sounds I could do without this football season. Everyone could make my Friday nights a lot more enjoyable if I didn't have to hear …

• "Do something!" Seriously, this is the advice a frustrated parent or two has chosen to scream toward their team at each game I've been to this season. "Oh, thanks, Mom! That's what I'll do on the next play! Something! Thank God you were here!" Hearing a fan yell "Do something!" is almost as annoying as the overbearing dad who thinks the referees cheat … every game.

• The public address announcer who thinks he's a cheerleader. I've heard too many of these. Just tell us who ran the ball, who made the tackle, that hot dogs are now half off at the concession stand and ask the person driving the white Cadillac to please move their car so that the ambulance can get No. 42 and his broken leg off the field. Don't yell, "It's third down! Let's cheer on that defense!"

• The idiot public address announcer. I've actually only dealt with one who stood out. I was in Nashville, Ga., in a press box that swayed in the wind and had just enough room for the PA guy, me and Stuart Little. Every time the linebacker for the other team would rush the line to blitz, he'd yell over the loudspeaker, "There's movement in the backfield, but the refs don't call it!" Couldn't have made less sense if he yelled "Strike three!"

• Cowbells. Let me be clear. There is never, ever a valid reason for a cowbell. Not even on a cow. And certainly not at a football game. Why don't you just wear a shirt that says, "I'm too lazy to cheer." I don't know whether Mississippi State or Oliver Douglas started this, but it needs to stop.

• Vuvuzelas! No, that's not Portuguese for, "Yippee! Extra cheese!" It's those stupid, loud, monotone horns that ruined the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They approach decibel levels that breach the threshold of pain. And some young nuts brought a handful to the first football game I saw this year. This is American football, not soccer. In American football, 1-0 is a forfeit, not a blowout. If a vuvuzela is blown behind my head this year, you will be reading a column about the time I broke a kid's vuvuzela … perhaps over his head.

• "There's plenty of time left." This is the kind of thing you hear a lot when the game boils down to about 45 seconds with no timeouts and a team down by two touchdowns. That's not a lot of time. That's 45 seconds. Forty-five minutes would be plenty of time left. And while we're at it, I don't need to hear any other cliches. One game at a time. It's a game of inches. We have to take care of the football. Billy just got decapitated. Those cliches have all had their day in the sun, but that goes without saying.

-- Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent. Connect with him at

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