We are less than 35 days away from the beginning of the high school football season.

Need proof? Just go to the home page for Gatesville football on the school district’s website, where a timer is counting down the seconds until kickoff.

We take the sport pretty seriously in Texas. Unofficially, high school football is the state’s official pastime.

Little Texans sometimes put on pads before they take off their training wheels, and any stadium in the state will be littered with old-timers on Friday nights.

Age, sex, class and race don’t make much of a difference, either, when it comes to the love of the game. Every little girl might not want to play the game or even watch the game, but they still want to be around the game.

Football games are anything but child’s play in the Lone Star State, though. They are a way of life.

They are suitable date destinations and the ultimate jumpstart to the weekend. Some hospitals give miniature footballs to recently delivered babies, and pep rallies take precedent over pop quizzes at high school campuses on Friday afternoons during the fall.

Websites, publications and television shows are dedicated to covering every team from every classification, and small town stores close their doors hours before game time.

I’m not sure how or why it got this way, but it did, and nothing is going to change it.

I’ve never lived any where other than Texas, so I don’t know exactly how seriously other states take high school football, but from what I hear from non-Texans, it doesn’t compare.

Like I said, I’m no expert on high school football in other states, but I can virtually guarantee nowhere outside of Texas are games played in multimillion-dollar gridiron palaces like Cowboys Stadium, Reliant Stadium and Allen High School’s Eagle Stadium. The fact that Allen even has a $60 million stadium shows the fanaticism this state has for the sport.

Other states have their own sports. New York, Indiana and North Carolina are known as basketball meccas, while Michigan, Massachusetts and Minnesota all are home to diehard high school hockey fans.

Regardless of sport, location or fan base, I simply do not believe there is anywhere else in the United States where a high school sport receives more reverence than football in Texas.

The Texas High School Hall of Fame shares many inductees with the NFL’s version in Canton, Ohio, and the stories of the state’s greats are passed down from generation to generation, developing into legendary lore over time.

From August until close to Christmas, many Texans live for football, and I’m one of them.

I cover numerous schools for a living, but even if it were not my job, I’d still be keeping up with countless programs just for fun.

I can’t explain it. Maybe it is something in the water or maybe it is something in our blood. Although I have no proof, I’m even tempted to believe it might stem from a genetic mutation in our DNA.

For better or worse, Texas’ collective attention will soon be squarely fixated on its favorite sport. Until then, it will be counting down each second until the season’s opening kickoff.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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