116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Here we go ... again.
It’s the middle of August and already pretty much football, football, football.
There’s a little baseball mixed in right now — the Kernels are in the Midwest League playoffs and there were a couple of little professional games in Dyersville last week that caught the attention of a few (thousand) people outside our borders.
And volleyball on the high school and college levels will be cranking up soon, along with cross country, golf, swimming and soccer. To name a few.
But in this day and age, football is king — high school on a ultra local level, Iowa, Iowa State and UNI on a more regional level and the NFL on every level.
We, as a society, are obsessed with this violent game. It gets our blood boiling, makes us scream at our TV screens and jump for joy from our couches.
I can’t even begin to explain — or even understand — why. But I’m no different. Football is my favorite spectator sport. Wrestling is right up there, too, but nothing beats a Friday night in the stands or a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in front of a TV watching this game (unless you are in stadium somewhere).
Iowa State, UNI and Iowa all held their media days in the last two weeks, relaying their 2022 hopes and dreams. Everybody is unbeaten right now and everybody is looking at a successful season — if they stay healthy and somebody somewhere steps ups and fills some gaps.
The Hawkeyes and Cyclones do, indeed, look like bowl teams again and the Panthers always will be FCS playoff contenders. They will frustrate you and you’ll question the decisions the coaches and even the players make. But you’ll still cheer loudly when something goes right.
The NFL already is playing games and, no matter how meaningless preseason games are, you’ll be watching. The Bears are 1-0, baby.
High school teams are in the same place. They started practice last Monday and are getting close to their first kickoff — Aug. 25-26 is Week 1.
Prep coaches are sending us their prospectus for the upcoming season and, they too, are 0-0 and optimistic.
“Last year was a solid year even with a 4-5 overall record,” one coach wrote. “... We expect our schedule to be just as difficult this year, but with expectations that we can turn around a few of those tough losses.
“Our team will not be short on talent. ... On defense, we bring back most of our starters, so we expect to make a huge stride in being a stronger, more fundamental and tougher defense.”
Another coach, whose team went 8-3 last year and made the playoffs, noted his team needs “ to mature and grow up fast with the schedule the IHSAA gave us to play.”
Maybe that’s why we love football so much — we never know where or how the ball will bounce, how the new kid (recruit or draft pick) will perform or how an injury or three will affect “our” team.
There always is hope — hope for another successful season, hope for a remarkable turnaround.
And the football coach is a rare breed.
“It should be exciting,” a veteran coach wrote in his questionnaire about his team’s district.
This coach, by the way, has been working with high school teams for more than 50 years. He’s still going strong and still loving the game.
“We must stay healthy,” he wrote. “We must be able to run the football more consistently!”
It’s football season. Let the games begin.
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