In Chickasaw County, high school football is under way in earnest.

Football is a team sport, but the team is a lot bigger than the 22 youngsters on the field.

Both schools have quality people at the coaching controls.

The best coaches and assistant coaches put in countless hours. They do what they do for the love of it, not the money. They're lucky enough to get paid for doing something they'd probably do for free.

The best coaches have a God-given gift. With their jobs riding on the outcome, they can motivate young men to do things they wouldn't ordinarily do, instead of things they'd much prefer to do.

Example: The best coaches motivate youngsters to run gassers in 90 degree heat until they throw up, and absorb those bone-rattling, slobber-knocker hits in "hole" drills until they don't have enough undamaged hide to make a lampshade. And they get the youngsters to endure the PTA - pain, torture and agony - for free.

Left to their own devices, of course, most young people would prefer to cruise town in an air-conditioned truck, cold drink in hand, tunes cranked up to the max, sweetie snuggled up by their side. Good coaches find a way to get youngsters to give up cruising', sippin’, sweeties, tunes and texting for the PTA.

Football games are more than two teams competing. There are shows within shows under the Friday night lights. The cheerleaders perform, and so do bands. Both those activities take hard work and dedication.

Both activities require instructors who, like the coaches, have jobs that depend on motivating youngsters to do things they wouldn't ordinarily do.

Other people - many of whom are parents of the aforementioned youngsters, perform the countless jobs necessary to make the games happen.

Someone's got to staff the concession stands, sell the tickets and programs, drive the buses hauling the team and the band and the cheerleaders to and from the practices and games.

Employers had to allow the students enough time off from the jobs to attend practice.

Next time you see one of those "behind-the-scenes" folks, thank them.

They're the team members off the field whose hard work helped put the band, cheerleaders, and teams on the field.

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