In-Person Football Games Kick Off Social Opportunities

The Jaguars take the field against the Madison Warhawks on Feb. 22.

The Jaguars take the field against the Madison Warhawks on Feb. 22.

Max Miracle, Editor-in-Chief

The March cold is biting, the bleachers are wet, and the Jaguars are losing by 30 points. But the stands are still alive with enthusiasm as students celebrate one of the few vestiges of pre-pandemic life: in-person football games.

As part of the VHSL’s response to covid-19, the football season was delayed from fall to spring, and is being abbreviated this year—with only three home games. Nevertheless, many students are striving to restore football as the hub of Friday-night social life.

The Jaguar hype squad, always located in the front section of the bleachers and decked out in colors like green, white, or pink depending on the night’s theme, has made a reappearance. “[The hype squad] generates inclusivity and school spirit,” said Olivia Lang (12). “Classmates can come together.”

And despite pandemic restrictions that limit the number of fans in attendance and require all spectators to stay socially distanced, the games are allowing students to reconnect with friends—many of which they haven’t seen in almost a year. “Everyone’s changed both with personality and physically,” said Bennett Poplin (10). “Most of my friends also grew out their hair.”

This social aspect has been particularly rewarding for seniors, who will graduate this spring without experiencing many traditional high school milestones. “I’ve been looking forward to senior year football games,” said Drew Tidwell (12). “You get to sit up front where the old seniors would sit.”

And for the students competing on the field, the in-person attendance is a much-needed morale boost during an unconventional season. “It’s nice to have friends we know supporting us,” said tight end William Clock (12). “It makes it feel like what we’re doing matters.”

And while the Friday night lights may spark nostalgia for less restricted times, some fans find reassurance in the familiar whistle tweets and crowd cheers. “Football games remind me of how great school used to be,” said Julian Scott (11).  “They’re a sort of normalcy in these weird times.”