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Friday night lights: Not just for football players

Your child doesn’t have to be a football player or cheerleader to take part under the Friday night lights. There are so many ways to get involved, support the school and improve your community.

As Frank, a father of four boys, was flying across the country on a Friday evening one fall, he was astonished by the overwhelming number of Friday night footbal lights shining from the ground below. In nearly every town of every state, communities had come together to enjoy one of America’s favorite pastimes: High school football.

“The best thing about Friday night football,” says one varsity coach, “is the way it can unite a community. Every high school kid can be involved in one way or another… whether he plays football, or not.”

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The band

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The players

Anyone who’s ever strapped on a helmet to play high school football knows that it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. “My coach told me to drink in every minute — that graduation would come and it’d be over before I knew it — and he was right,” says Tom. “I would do anything to put on that uniform and play one more down.”

The cheerleaders

Players and fans alike appreciate the efforts put forth by the cheerleaders — who are athletes themselves — to instill school spirit and keep the energy level high. “My daughter is a cheerleader, so I attend a lot of sporting events,” says Charlene. “Friday nights are the best — I don’t care much for football, but I love watching the kids cheer and do stunts on the sidelines.”

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Everyone else

While the football team, cheer squad and band provide ample opportunities for your child to be involved in a Friday night football game, they’re not the only options he or she has. These students found their own ways to take part in one of America’s favorite traditions.

  • Cassie and her fellow members of the school’s culinary club run a special food stand at the home games. “Instead of hot dogs and pizza, we serve chili, soups, ethnic dishes and sophisticated desserts. We get cooking and business experience, and the proceeds fund our club!”
  • Kevin is on the yearbook staff at his school and hopes to one day make it big as a national editor. “I’m on the sideline every Friday… not with pads, but with my camera,” says Kevin.
  • Mary Beth loves to help others. “Our school board lets us do something charitable at every home sporting event,” she says, “and football games are the best.” Mary Beth has organized fundraisers for local cancer patients and food drives for the local soup kitchen.
  • Nate is the go-to tech guy for his school’s football games. “I help out with the lights, the scoreboard and the sound system,” says Nate. “We’re pretty high-tech compared to a lot of other schools.”
  • Mindy aspires to be a female sportscaster. For now, she’s content to work in the high school press box. “Some weeks I keep stats for the school paper, and some weeks I get to call the game over the loudspeaker,” says Mindy.
  • Steve just wants to be involved. “I will do whatever is needed,” he says, “from running the chains to drying the footballs to filling the water bottles.” Every team needs at least one Steve.

More about youth sports

When girls take sports too far
The fall of youth sports
Who’s coaching your children?

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