Here in the South we are happily immersed in our beloved football season. College football is serious business here, Go Tigers! (Sorry to my Carolina fan friends). Weddings and other events are scheduled around the games. Folks fly their team’s flag from their porches and on the windows of their cars. At school, teachers are permitted to wear their team’s colors with jeans on Friday and we have an annual Clemson v. Carolina food drive in November. The high school football scene dominates Thursday and Friday nights, some games broadcast over local television and all covered by the local sportscasters. The bands and cheerleaders that support these teams are equally as serious and games become a family affair, sometimes with multiple generations in attendance. The hit show Friday Night Lights, was based on the culture of football in the South. Where does this all start? Under the Wednesday night lights of the local park and recreation fields. Young eight and nine year olds, heavily padded and helmeted, with their still toothpick legs looking quite comical, take the field to be indoctrinated into the game. They experience the thrill of a team touchdown and the agony of a loss. They learn the value of teamwork and having good coaches to mentor them. They learn discipline and goal setting (something I think all kids involved in sports do). These Wednesday night games do not have the glamour of press coverage or the thrill of super exciting plays. It is a bit of stumbling and bumbling out there akin to Larry, Curly and Moe. There are no elaborate tailgates, although we lounge in our folding chairs with drinks in hand and snacks in our bags, plus plenty of bug spray. The victories will not lead to a bowl invitation. But the heart and the bravery of these young players will make you smile. This is where it begins, the Wednesday night lights shine bright for the next generation of high school and college players. This Wednesday night ritual that is played on fields all over the South is part of the fabric of our community. A part of the transitional season of autumn, these young players inspire us to put our hearts into our endeavors, if we work hard and have a bit of luck, we might just score a touchdown. Just another reason to love the South!