A Final Friday Night Lights (And Saturday) For The Season

“Ya might wanna avert your eyes sis, cause I’m stripping naked in front of your dryer” That was the greeting to my sis, Rebecca Frankenberry after I arrived sponge-like at her house following a rain soaked game one in my double header weekend. She and the nephews, Jake and Matty, live near Schenectady and were my sleep stop between games on this final weekend of Friday Night Lights (and one Saturday). These Friday football nights have come to an end for this season with Spectrum Sports but I have to say thanks to Spectrum and especially to my good friend Greg Bobbitt for the chance to work as much of the schedule as I was able. My appreciation of always being considered by Greg when it comes to games/events and the ability to get some work is something I don’t think I could ever offer enough of. The games in the Albany area were new to me this season, and a bit of a drive and my arrivals at whatever field we were at for these recent Friday nights were usually greeted by crew mates with something akin to “Jesus, did you just drive the two hours up here for this AGAIN?” along with surely an internal aside “you silly bastard” followed, then, a tired good number of hours later, by a game finished/breakdown done “You heading home two hours again…you silly bastard?” (no internal asides at end of game by the way – everyone’s WAY too tired for that nicety shit by then).

Now I realize I’m not hitting the lottery with these jobs, but the money is still a pretty good dollar that I didn’t have and can always use, four hour round trips nothwithstanding but, really, it’s more than that. It’s just that tongue in cheek “Jesus did you drive up here again?” comraderie and hand shakes and fist bumps that makes the trip worth it – plus we get fed. Anyone that knows ME and anyone that knows a regular radio or TV production life knows that getting fed goes a pretty long fucking way.

But it’s being part of a crew of really good, accomplished, hard working and funny, sarcastic sometimes playfully caustic folks who you can call friend and who are really good at what they do that makes the gigs worth it. It’s the knowing pride of producing a top notch broadcast that you would gladly stack up against anyone else’s, somewhere else, doing the same.

Plus for me it’s always been a welcome break from the daily, a place to ignore the emails and the phone calls and the demands and expectations of the regular life/job gig, instead, just getting to concentrate on the game at hand, damning any obligations…and get paid for it. You can’t go wrong with that and Friday Night Lights have always been the best of the sports for me to enjoy this break.

Over the years with Time Warner to now Spectrum (I’ve been doing this for 12+ now I think…thank you Jack George) we’ve done lacrosse, basketball, soccer, others I’m maybe forgetting, badmintton? Quite possible, but it’s football that I enjoy the most. I’ve mentioned this in posts before, but there is something, as we all know, about the fall and football, something about the love and fervor and dedication of the fans (family, students, local pride) and the passion of the players and the coaches in the warm Septembers that lead to the cool Octobers and then to crisp Novembers. I eventually get to layer up (which I enjoy until the first snowflake), see my breath, use my phone only as a camera and enjoy the solitude of a Friday football sideline’s wonderfully loud football cliche’d but passionate shout/grunt chorus of coordinated chaos.

And I also get to feel a bit creative in this “solitude” and write some posts like I have of this, new to me, northern New York, like discovering that Guilderland is NOT of Middle Earth though it sounds as if it should be, of noting that a Ville of some type is pretty much the go-to town designation in these here parts and of being painfully obvious and juvenile in pointing out that Ballston sounds like a place with a ton of balls.

I was able, for instance, while patrolling the sidelines with my parabolic mic, to notice that a number of players for Shenendahowa were just a letter away from being something completely different. “Lasher” was a beginning “Sh” away from being hunted by the authorities, “Belott” was almost a Mel Ott but playing the wrong sport, “Altenburger” was just an “I” in place of a “T” from aliens opening their own other universe burger joint, maybe 5 Eyes Burger and Fries. “Blowers” possibly came from a family of glass makers, or noticing that there was a “Trump” and an almost McCain (“McCane”) proving that up north here does have it’s red spots. There was, as well, a “Beach” to lessen the cold a “Hill” for something to inspire you to take and, my favorite, a “Fubare”…FUBAR with an extra “E” for maybe “E”verything that might come after being FUBAR.

No, on this last weekend for us, a couple of teams were excitedly crowned champions while a couple of teams were left in tears, tears I genuinely felt while recalling my own sports losses, my own head in my hands, my own pounding of the turf in frustration, but I wouldn’t trade those losses for wins any day, and hopefully this youth won’t either, because eventual victories will be that much sweeter. And though I was loathe to do these drives in the first place, not wanting to add variables to my somewhat comfy regular, I wouldn’t trade for anything my last couple of months and those couple of hours there and back up and down the Thruway for these Friday Night Lights with the crew…friends…and some damn fine pizza.


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