It’s all about perspective

Published 12:55 am Saturday, October 10, 2009

It’s amazing how your perspective can change the details of a story.

Friday night, I was in attendance at what was billed as a Class 1A, Region 3 showdown between Linden and Maplesville.

For the most part, the game delivered as advertised.

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The game was moving right along at a normal temperament and pace until about midway through the fourth quarter, the Maplesville quarterback took a shot to the head and had to leave the game.

At that very moment, the temperature of the game changed and, eventually, spiked.

Over the next five minutes, the Red Devils were hit with three unsportsmanlike penalties and two Maplesville fans – one a Chilton County commissioner – were arrested.

I wrote my story Friday night following the ballgame and sent a copy to the Clanton Advertiser, the hometown newspaper that serves the Town of Maplesville.

Those of you who know me remember that I worked at the Advertiser for three years and have, in fact, covered many, many Maplesville football games before last Friday night.

In fact, when Jeremy asked me to cover this game, I was excited at the idea of seeing a few people who were at one time my friends and neighbors.

What perplexed me when the Advertiser broke the news of commissioner Tim Mims’ arrest – a man whom I came to know as I worked with the commission – somehow, between graph one and the final sentence, the context of that article got lost on the readers of the Advertiser’s website.

This is where perspective comes in. We were all watching the same game, but somehow, we each saw different things.

Readers’ opinions are valuable things, and I will never argue with anyone’s opinion, whether I agree with it or not. I had decided to leave well enough alone until a fraction of the Maplesville fan base decided to visit and leave similar remarks Wednesday.

Questioning the class and dignity of an entire school system over a football game is entirely unnecessary. Linden played that football game the same way I’ve seen them play many others, and this was the first time, to my knowledge, this newspaper has received any negative feedback as a result of its outcome.

As someone who was a lot closer to the action than most of the fan base – I’m on the sidelines while most spectators watch from the bleachers – I can assure you, things are said on the gridiron that, obviously, some people just won’t or refuse to believe.

So, let’s get one thing straight right now. I’m fairly familiar with both programs, and I don’t think the class and integrity of either school is up for debate. Some of the things that happened Friday night were unusual on both sides and are far from a clear indication of the norm for either program.

I heard the exchange between coaches after the quarterback’s injury. I heard the exchanges between players from both sides. Anything I heard last Friday night wasn’t anything I’d never heard before.

Maplesville is a traditional 1A football power, and I’m sure that the fact that Linden has beaten them each of the last two years is not lost on the school’s players or its fans.

What many people (as of Friday more than 100 comments had been launched between the two Web sites) fail to remember is that football is just a sport and the people under those helmets are children.

I imagine the fate awaiting the two men arrested will be determined by judges and lawyers. I don’t know the details there, other than whatever happened, happened.

We’re only six weeks into Friday night under the lights, and if the parents and the fans in the stands have already lost sight of the real reason they came to watch a ballgame, the next six-plus weeks are going to be rough.