04 September 2009

Race With The Devil

Sports signal the seasons. Growing up in New England, late March meant Little League "tryouts" and the expectant prospect of a baseball filled summer. It was hard to grip the ball, because of the cold, but was still my favorite time of year. I had my small golden mitt, and coud see my breath. Proof, after the long winter, I was still alive.

My favorite season in Arizona is now. It's still hot, but the brutal edge of Sonora's summer has finally ebbed. Night temps have dropped to the low 80s and a stretch of hospitable days are promised before too long. Despite pennant races, my athletic marker for this seasonal conversion isnt baseball. It's a game I'm generally not all that wild about. The Arizona calendar ritual I most anticipate is the ASU Sun Devil football opener.

It's always at home, it's always at night, and they always beat an overmatched weakling by about 45 to 10. Tonight is Idaho State. I'm almost embarrassed to say I find something comforting in that. Beating up a rummy in what amounts to financial symbiosis masquerading as a football game. But it does strangely comfort.

Not the score so much. By the scond half, the games are pretty boring. But that first quarter gets me every time. The greenness of the field. The pent up energy of the big crowd. The thumping tubas and bass drums in ASU's band. Nothing, though, gets my heart racing as much as the players. I dont know their names, but they're fast, galloping across the green, through holes as wide as canyons. Stadium lights dispatch tall shadows to chase each Devil, but the boys in gold accelerate and prevail. Through their faceguards, in autumn evening's spotlight, I can almost see their breath.


Michael Norton said...

Oh, but thank God my Sooners get Idaho State next week. I don't think we would survive any other team.


Diamondhacks said...

You'll manage. Idaho St isnt too keen on picking up blitzes - they're in Norman to pick up a check :-)

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