I’ve always felt the year doesn’t really begin until football season gets here. With the advent of the National Football League’s regular season play this past weekend it became official. Although autumn doesn’t actually arrive until Sept. 23, the year is in full swing. School began in August and prep sports got underway. Perhaps it’s the beginning of school that makes this seem more like the “new year” than does Jan. 1. In fact, New Years seems more like a mid-year break. While kids fill with the anticipation of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, parents fill with the anxiety of balancing their budgets. Still, with football in the air, and on the air, the world just seems better somehow. Fall also means volleyball, cross country, golf, soccer, and water polo. There’s pretty much something for everyone. That’s good because athletics is about a variety of sports. Football just happens to have the pageantry that appeals, and involves, many. Case in point was this past weekend’s Quarry Bowl between Rocklin High School and Whitney High School. Although only in its second year, it was quite a spectacle to witness. I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a high school game that was sold out, standing room only. I know it was standing room only because I had to stand for most of it. Of course, that’s my choice because I feel closer to the game when down on the sidelines. The pageantry was terrific, from the opening ceremony to the halftime show, from an exciting game to the closing presentation of the granite trophy. It was as inspiring as Stanford and Cal’s battle for the Axe to the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn. I would be remiss not to mention the halftime presentation where the dance teams and cheerleaders performed for both schools. The precision, skills, and athleticism displayed did not play second to the game; it just didn’t last as long. Whitney’s marching band also supplied the kind John Phillip Sousa music that is as traditional as the game. It was a sea of silver, gold, maroon and blue – the high school experience at its best. I’m not sure why football has such a hold on America, but it seems to have a quality that gives us all something in common. Perhaps it reminds us of how hard we’ve had to fight for what we have, making it somewhat ironic that the NFL season should begin on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.