Texans might disagree.
Texas high-school football is a legend in its own right. Author Buzz Bissinger’s stellar book, Friday Night Lights, exposed the world to west Texas football and how it overtakes entire towns and families. And now that state’s largest schools are in an arms race that would make Alabama universities like Jacksonville State take notice.
Allen, Texas, is a wealthy Dallas suburb with a large public high school. Tonight, the Associated Press reports, Allen’s football team, the Eagles, will play its first game in its new stadium. But it’s not merely another high school stadium.
It seats 18,000 fans. It has an upper deck. It has a 38-foot-wide video screen. It has corporate sponsors. And it cost $60 million, paid for through a $119 million bond package voters approved in 2009.
Take note that Allen’s stadium is hardly the largest in Texas, a state which prides itself on doing things large. It’s merely the latest in what’s increasingly become a college-like atmosphere, where crazy amounts of money are spent on football.
It’s all about priorities.
This isn’t an indictment of the Allen Eagles, or of the voters who OK’d the deal. Oxford High has a large stadium and its head coach, John Grass, was given a $105,000 annual salary when hired away from Spain Park. Other large schools in Alabama — Hoover, Prattville, Gadsden City, Clay-Chalkville — put immense importance on their football teams. They put much into them, and they expect a return on that investment.
In that sense, Alabama and Texas have much in common.
But on this first Friday night of the season, let us prefer to enjoy the action as it’s so-often played: at diminutive stadiums, on lumpy, poorly lit fields, between small schools with even smaller rosters. We love this game.