LEWISBERRY, Pa – Early game time, no visitor seating and poor weather keep spectators away. The players are dressed and ready to play. The coaches take place on the field and the fans start to arrive. Several spectators wear coats and sweatshirts to watch the Red Land freshmen football team take on their Palmyra rivals.
The visiting team’s observers sit on folding chair they brought to the game. The metal seats, on the home side, sting from the crispness in the air. Exposed arms are red from the howling wind. Clouds fill the sky.
A boy, approximately three, ran a metal car up and down the benches. The noise sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard. Several fans scowled with annoyance. The boy’s family requested he stop, and for a minute he did.
Another boy, about five, played with a bag of rubber bands. He put one on each finger, until finger contained a band. The boy became agitated when a little girl, approximately three hung around to try to borrow a few. He turned his back on her and she continued to talk to him and begged for just one rubber band.
The fan age base appears mixed, mostly over the age of 60, grandmothers and grandfathers. Several adults, still dressed in business attire, schlepped in slowly. One man, wearing a coat and tie, walked from the parking lot to the standing without ever putting down his cell phone. Another woman, approximately 40 and wearing a dress, sunk her heels into the mud as she made her way to the seats.
No cheerleaders arrived to cheer on the team. The team trainer, an attractive woman around 30-years-old, medical bag in tow, made her way to the field. Several coaches, and a few men with clipboards traveled up and down the home team’s sideline.
The players from both teams formed circles on the field chanting. The game started and points filled the scoreboard. The audience clapped, cheered and encouraged the team yelling “Go Red Land” or “We love you no matter what.” Moms cheered for their sons, yelling out their team numbers to encourage good play. Other mothers scowled to the opposing team members hurting their sons. One yelling “Your gonna kill him.”
A group of teenaged girls gathered, supposedly to watch the game. The girls giggling, gossiping and screaming, disregarding the game altogether, at times yelling obscenities for no apparent reason. All three teenaged girls wore torn jeans. One girl, blonde hair, with red painted in it to support her team, was especially loud. Mothers with small children argued under their breath but loud enough to be heard, in disapproval.
The concession stand opened for the few fans who bothered to walk up the big, grassy hill to purchase hot dogs, sodas and hot chocolate. Business was slow due to the modest number of people.
A few men stood along the fence to get closer to the action in the game. Some men taking notes and others are yelling at the players assuming the coach on the sideline position. At one point a man ran onto the field with a bag of ice for an injured player. Two ambulances parked on the lower field, in both vehicles drivers sleeping at the wheel.
The game was over and Red Land won, to little fanfare. By the end of the game fewer than 20people remained. One mother suggested to another perhaps a time change would increase attendance. Another suggested a cheer team might help bring in more fans. An elderly man, over 60, suggested that as long as the team did well he doubted the team cared.
Boys ran off the field, covered in sweat. Gathered their belongings from the sideline and went home. Players did not complaint about attendance, just smiles for the victors, scowls from the losers.