Commentary: Mark Smith: Where I’ve been
By Mark Smith email@example.com March 5, 2013 11:54AM
Updated: March 5, 2013 11:54AM
I’ve had people suggest to me that it must be wonderful to attend all the games and the meets and watch the teenagers play sports. It is. Sometimes.
It falls a little short of “wonderful” sometimes, too. It’s every Friday night and most Saturdays. There are other things I could have done all these years.
The kids are often afraid to talk to you, coaches and parents are very guarded in what they say. After all, you are from the newspaper. It’s not uncommon to drive 50-100 miles to see the team you came to watch lose, have people say little to you and have little to say in return.
On the road, you are always by yourself by design.
It’s not a life I’d recommend, to be honest.
If it all ended tomorrow (and it could), I’d be hard- pressed to put into words exactly what I get out of it. That is, if it wasn’t on film.
The opening sequence of the classic 1986 Indiana basketball movie “Hoosiers” has no dialogue. It lasts four minutes and 16 seconds. I’d bet you’ve all seen it.
If not, it’s online. Just the opening 4:16.
Academy Award winner Gene Hackman drives an old beaten up car through rural Indiana to a slow, soft soaring main theme lush with violins, french horns, flutes and a solo trumpet.
His drive begins in near-darkness as the sun rises over the opening credits and the car weaves through open fields, down unmarked two-lane and sometimes one-lane roads across covered bridges and past solitary farms. Through small towns, down vintage streets, at old gas stations and lonely crossroads all frozen in time. My time.
In the years I’ve done whatever it is I do here, I’ve been down all those roads, through all those towns. I have come to a wind-swept, cloudy-sky crossroads, gotten out of the car and looked in all directions trying to figure out where I was.
I’ve seen the barns and the farms and old brick schools like the ones in the movie. I know how they look. I know where they are, from the opening note till the bell rings in the hallway of that fictional Hickory High School.
I took that trip. I took it last week.
This time of year, during the high school and college basketball tournaments, they run “Hoosiers” again on TV, and I always watch. If not the whole thing, just the opening sequence. The way it was and, trust me, the way it still is. The timelessness of it all is very heartwarming. I don’t really know how to explain it.
But if anybody wants to know exactly how I spend the majority of my weekends, just watch the first four minutes and 16 seconds of that movie. For the better part of 30 years, that’s where I’ve been. In an old car. On an old road. Headed for the old high school.
And if I had it to do all over again, I probably would.