"After 18 Years, I Did It -- I Cheated"

September 20, 2007

That was the subject of this very interesting email I received this week from a Lincoln County alumnus. To protect the "guilty", we'll refer to our friend under the pen-name we've used for her before, DragonLady. Here's her story of a "cheating" Red Devil fan!

Well, Tradition, it took 18 years, but I finally did it. I feel like I cheated on a partner, a beau, an old friend.

As you know, I have not attended a high school football game since I left Lincolnton in 1989. I was always under the assumption, once you've seen the best it just makes no sense watching anyone else, so why waste time? Through word of mouth, calling the local television station here (since I am out of the CSRA broadcast area) to ask the score, and your website, I have kept up with Lincoln County football all these years. Every weekend during football season, I have made sure I found out what was happening with my Red Devils.

All the time my two oldest were in high school, I never caved - that decision was made easier, thankfully, because they were not interested in sports at the high school they attended. Now, along comes my youngest, my baby...he is into all sports now that he is in high school. He would be playing, if not for injuring himself and the doctor not letting him play just yet.

Well, two Fridays ago, he came home from school and said, "Mom, I need to talk with you." "Oh Lord" I thought, while all sorts of conversations started playing out in my mind. He reached out and took my hand and said, "I want to go to the Northside-Warner Robins game tonight, and I want you to go with me. I don't want you to go just to drive me; I want you to sit and watch the game with me." "WHAT?!?" I said. "Mom, I know, I know, no school is like Lincoln County, I've been hearing that ever since I was born, blah, blah, blah (he actually said, blah blah blah referring to MY RED DEVILS). But, I really want us to do this together," my baby said. "And the Northside-Warner Robins game is a huge game like when Lincolnton plays that town close to them."

Well, every parent knows that when your child is 14, they suddenly think you've grown 3 heads, are dumber than dirt, don't have the sense God gave a gnat, and they most definitely do not want to be seen within a half mile of you. So, if they request your presence at the same place, sitting by them, well, you just HAVE to go - it's an unwritten rule. So, I told him I'd go with him, but that if I didn't like it we were leaving early, and he'd better not give me any sass about it either. By the time we were ready to leave, he had painted 1/2 his face blue, 1/2 white and had painted his hair corresponding colors! Oh My God - do I have to be seen with this child? Blue and white?!? NO, NO, NO my mind screamed, it is supposed to be red and white!!! Red and white, red and white...not blue!

I must admit, I was not excited - it was like I was the child and he the parent and he was dragging me to this game. I was the hostile spectator instead of a hostile witness. Well, as we went through the gate, the crowd was enormous - not as big as the Lincoln County-WW crowd, but who's comparing?!? Everyone was blue, white, and orange...except me. Let me add here, the other team was the "Demons." As I looked at the other side, all I saw was red and white, pitchforks, and everyone wearing little red horns - "Wait, I shouted, I need to go to that side!" I found myself being towed to the stands - heard my son saying, "Mom, you are embarrassing me!" "Okay, okay, I will stop." I promised him. We found good seats and sat and waited for kick-off. Well, the mascots came out and started dancing while the band warmed up, very cute out there shaking their Eagle tail feathers - the players came out and started warming up - the smell of grass and sweat wafted up bringing back lots of memories of another field and long-ago Friday nights.

Alas, my heart was hurting. The game starts...everyone is cheering and Northside scores first. Pandemonium! Everyone is standing, cheering...and I can't see. So I stand. I clap. I go through the motions. Then during the second quarter, Northside scores again...everyone is doing the shark snapping thing with their arms when the band plays the Jaws theme...little footballs are being thrown out, and before I know it, I'm standing up shouting "Go Big Blue!" WHAT DID I JUST SAY? Am I getting caught up in the excitement? How can that be? I felt ashamed...I was mad at myself - how could I do this to Lincoln County? I cheated. I was scum...pond scum even! My son looks at me, a smile beaming from ear to ear!

Northside ended up beating Warner Robins 34-7 and retained bragging rights for another year as the "city champions." I must admit, I enjoyed myself. No, I will never say it was as good as a Red Devil game, but it was fun. I just wish I could rid myself of the guilt...