But for as much as our society has changed since then, the true meaning of a pure athletic accomplishment hasn’t changed. It is still a game. There will still be glory for the winner and a subtler life lesson for the loser about humility and dedication.
Not having been an athlete myself, I can’t draw on personal experience, but the commonality in what participants in these games have said over the years leads me to believe their participation is a seminal moment it their young lives. They speak in grandiose terms professional athletes are too cool to use. They stand in awe of the moment, then they get hit and remember it is, after all, a football game.
I’ve heard moans from some quarters that the terms of the rivalry are too one-sided, that maybe it’s time to stop playing the game after a string of blowouts by North Tonawanda.
To bow to such pressure would be a real injustice. Try telling a proud father watching his son play the same game he once did that T-NT isn’t worth it. Try telling any parent that the lessons their sons and daughters learn about dedication to and pride in their community isn’t worth learning.
And try telling this year’s Warriors squad, which has one more victory than NT headed into the 103rd T-NT Classic, that they don’t have a shot at winning.
I promise their answers will tell you everything you need to know about why this game matters now as much as it ever has.
Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.