As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Oct. 24. , 2012.
The term “Friday night lights” has been used for many purposes, but there truly is something mesmerizing about being the one under the lights.
I’ve had minor experience in being on a stage—a literal stage, not the athletic, figurative stage—and have always felt that the lights that blind you from the audience are what makes performing easier than someone foreign to this type of performance might anticipate.
The bright spotlights turn the crowd into a sea of darkness. It’s almost as if not a single body exists beyond the stage on which you stand. Suddenly, the world on which you need to focus your attention and the role you need to play become that much easier. The pressure of the spectators disappears.
The sports stage under the lights is no different.
As fans, we yell and scream and sit on the edge of our seats (or bounce up and down in the air) scrutinizing players’ every move. You often forget (or some just do not realize) that you are insignificant to the athlete on the field.
Not to belittle fans—every athlete loves their fan support. I know I did—just like any performer thrives off the love of their fans. But the focus and thoughts of the player on the field when in action are never about the fans. In the moment, it’s not even about the coaches.
The lights blind you to the world that exists beyond your stage: the field. Beyond the field is merely darkness.
Being under the lights allows you to focus on the role you need to play. In that role, under the lights, it becomes only you and the forces around you. The moment-to-moment actions come into fruition in a way that almost seems beyond your control. Your body is one with the field, the players and the ball, reacting even before your mind has time to catch up.
Some athletes make it to a larger than life stage in the professional arena but some are experiencing the peak of their moment right now at the high school level. I truly believe the ability to capture one of those moments under the lights as a high school athlete is as comparable to a perfect moment any pro can capture for himself.
Once you’ve experienced a moment that can only be created under the lights—within your stage—the feeling never leaves you. Even seeing the stadium lights from a distance can bring back a reminiscent feeling that doesn’t quite compare to that experienced in the original moment, but brings back the memory of its existence.
Take in your moment under the lights as an athlete. Let it sweep you away and mesmerize you. Let it wipe away the exterior world where scrutiny, fear and limits exist. Be that moment before your opportunity passes you by.
“The perfect throw, making the perfect catch, the perfect stepping block... Perfection is what it's about. It's about those moments when you can feel the perfection of creation; the beauty of physics, the wonder of mathematics. The elation of action and reaction. And that is the kind of perfection I want to be connected to.”
– Sam Anders from Battlestar Galactica (Ronald D. Moore).