Recently, I was privileged to be in attendance at a football game at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The game was between my alma mater, the University of St. Thomas, and its archrival St. John’s University. The game was the first ever football game played at this site and attendance was more than 35,000 fans, which doubled the previous attendance record for a Division III football game. But it wasn’t just the game and the atmosphere at that venue that was inspiring but rather what happened before the game was played.
As both teams aligned their respective sidelines a large American flag was unfurled across the playing field and held in place by students from both universities. All along both sidelines players and coaches stood with their right hand placed over their heart and with their heads held high. After the last note and word of the Star Spangled Banner was sung by an acapella choir from St. Thomas, both sidelines of players, coaches and attendants continued to stand at attention while our nations colors were refolded and completely retired from the field of play.
These are players who likely will never play for an NFL team and, as players for Division III institutions, do not receive athletic scholarships and will have to earn their way in life doing something other than playing a game. This is part of their education — an education that seems to have been lost on so many who now play and coach the game on Sundays.