That special time of the year for so many Texans has arrived. High school football season opens this weekend.

For thousands of fans, the competition they witness on the field is the main attraction. The team they support contributes to the pride they have in their high schools, as well as their communities. For dozens of small towns, success in high school football is one excellent way to focus statewide attention to the other advantages they possess - advantages which might otherwise go unheralded. More than any other endeavor, high school football can put a nondescript town literally on the map.

However, any player, and certainly any coach, will readily say there’s much more to an interscholastic athletic program than the game itself. The same can be said of every extracurricular activity, and the best fans and supporters recognize that fact, too.

These team activities - whether it’s football, volleyball, band or drill team - are superb real-life “classrooms” through which real-life lessons in goal-setting, teamwork and cooperation are learned. Individual achievement and honors are part of the process, certainly, because each member of the team must do his or her part. But the ultimate success stems from collective efforts, built upon the abilities of each individual working in conjunction with others. Whether the team is lining up for a touchdown pass, playing a Sousa march or performing for an audience in a concert, the cooperative effort required have numerous parallels.

Studies have also shown a direct correlation between participation in extracurricular activities and success in the classroom, which is the bottom line for any school system. State rules require a minimum level of academic achievement in order for a student to remain eligible, but for the vast majority of students involved that is not a problem.

Area high schools have been holding “meet and greet” opportunities in recent days at which the student athletes on their teams are introduced. And even though football is the sport in the spotlight right now, it is gratifying to see that these events also include all the spirit organizations such as band and cheerleaders along with all the other athletic teams. They are all part of the program these schools are building, and deserve to be included.

Parents and fans who support their favorite team should always keep in mind a point the educators and students know very well: the reason they are in school is to receive a quality education. That may not be the primary thought when there’s time for one play and your team is down by two points. Success, however, is not always built on wins and losses. It can be measured in a variety of ways. But when the wins are there, the attitude of success can spread throughout the campus, any even the community.

As the season begins, every team and every player is indeed a winner. And with the proper approach, that description will continue to apply in the weeks and years to come, regardless of the record at the end of the season.

Brownwood Bulletin