National anthem

I was frantically running late trying to get to the stadium for the soccer game. (In case you don't know, I'm the team doc for our boys high school soccer team.) Trying to find a parking spot is usually crazy as game time gets closer. Fortunately, things weren't too hectic because the junior varsity game draws a smaller crowd. So, the parking lot was not that bad.

I got out of my car, put on my cap, grabbed my "doctor bag", and rushed into the stadium. Actually, it's not your stereotypical looking doctor bag (like my profile picture). It's just a gym bag with tape, ace wraps, and other items for injuries.

Fortunately, the junior varsity was still warming up. A couple of our players asked me to tape up their ankles prior to the game. I also talked with some players who were managing injuries, and they seemed fine.

You can definitely feel the electricity in the air before a game - particularly before a varsity game. We play at the (gridiron) football stadium. And, before the varsity warm up session, the stadium lights are turned on. This definitely adds to the excitement.

Before each game, the referrees bring both teams to the center of the field and review items of sportsmanship - for example, being careful of overly rough play, intolerance of profanity during the game, etc. Following this, the team captains remain with the referees to determine who will get the ball first. The rest of the team has a final pre-game conference with the coaches.

After the captains return from the center of the field, the drama and the excitement continue to build as each player is announced over the loud speakers. Now, the crowd really starts to get into it. No one can wait any longer for the game to get started. Just when things are about to reach a fever pitch, the loud speakers blare with this announcement: "And now please stand for the playing of our national anthem as we honor America...."

Time pauses at that point. I believe that this is the most beautiful moment in sport. Even if it's our arch-rival high school, who usually brings a loud crowd and a good team with them, at this moment, we are unified and we are one. The crowd goes from a roar to absolute silence as all of us look to at the farthest point of the stadium where the flag is seen in the night sky. For a moment, all of us forget about soccer, forget about sports, and focus on what's really important...

Oh, say can you see,
By the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed
At the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched
Were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there.
O, say, does that
Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave?

According to Blogger, this is my 100th post. I'm on call this weekend, so I'll see you next week, sometime. Remember Monday. God Bless America.

Update 1: Thanks to all of you who put tributes up on your blogs over the weekend. I've been reading a lot of them and they are so moving. None of us will ever forget.

Update 2: I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I've been named the Bestest Blog of the Day by Morgen from It's a Blog Eat Blog World. Morgen is of the newest members of Blogaholics Anonymous. Thanks Morgen for the selecting me today, and thanks to Bobby Griffin from Bestest Blog for the opportunity to be a member of your blog list.