Homecoming is important, but it’s still only a game

Nick Boehme breaks a tackle for six yards in the Comets’ season opener against Regina in West Liberty. West Liberty Index photo.

The words for today are:
1. Homecoming.
2. Perspective.

As hard as it still is to believe, summer is over and we’ve moved well into fall-sports season across Iowa.

In West Liberty, the high school kids have been celebrating homecoming this week, which will culminate at 7:30 p.m. Friday with the big game against Columbus Junction. The Comets are 1-2, but are coming off a win last week against Louisa-Muscatine. Columbus Junction last week defeated West Burlington/Notre Dame, 24-0, snapping a 21-game losing streak that dated back to 2009.

I’d guess both teams will come into the game with a lot of optimism. And the Comets will have the added incentive of wanting to win their homecoming game — a game no one wants to lose.

But I can honestly say there are far worse things in life than losing a high school homecoming game.

In the fall of 1984, I was a senior at Chariton High School. Here is what I remember about homecoming that year:

  • Kim Ellis, perhaps the nicest girl in my senior class, was crowned homecoming queen.
  • Head coach Dennis Booth told us repeatedly in the days before the big game that we would always remember its outcome.
  • Pella beat us 10-9, one of the five games we lost that year en route to a 4-5 season. (And to be honest, I had to look some of that up in an old yearbook to refresh my memory.)

That’s it.

I don’t remember how we scored the nine points or how we gave up 10. But I guess Coach Booth was right because I still remember the score. And I was probably really upset at the time, which seems pretty silly now. In the past 28 years, I have experienced plenty of things that were far worse: My dad died, I’ve moved 10 times after graduating from college and left behind many good friends and, of course, I lost my job in late February.

And even all of that needs to be kept in perspective. Losing my job was probably the worst thing I have ever experienced. Since then, I’ve had some of the lowest moments in my life. After six months, I still don’t have a good new job and I’m scared to death about the future.

But to tell the truth, I’ve whined and complained far too much about this because far worse things have happened in the same six months to some of my friends. Just to cite one example, a Muscatine bicycling friend died last month after a long battle with cancer. She left behind her husband of 30 years, three sons and three grandchildren. She was only 54.

So, Comets, I’ll be rooting for you to win Friday night. But if you don’t, it won’t be the end of the world. Many of you may not be old enough yet to have enough perspective on things like this. You may think there are few things worse than losing your homecoming game.

Just take my word for it: There are. But even then, the bad things that are going to happen in your lives aren’t what’s important. What is important is how you react to those bad things.

Like I said, I’ll be rooting for you to win Friday night. But if you don’t, pick yourselves up and move forward. It won’t be the last time in your lives that you will have to do it.

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