STEPPING UP — My Take: America’s favorite sport returns

Published 9:35 am Tuesday, August 12, 2014



Football is back. Sooner rather than later, hundreds, maybe even thousands of local fans will spend their Friday evenings filing into Wagner Stadium, Bing Mitchell Stadium and The Nest to watch their favorite high school team strap on the pads and lay it all on the line.

Then, on Saturday, family and friends will huddle around the television, the topic of conversation focused solely on the upcoming college football season and each person’s respective alma mater. In this area, all eyes will be on the East Carolina Pirates as they take to the gridiron for the first time as members of the American Athletic Conference.

And just when the buzz from the previous day’s excitement has finally worn off, you will find yourself, once again, slumped over on the couch in the customary, football-induced position, your Sunday afternoon at the mercy of the NFL.

The start of the football season brings more than just excitement. It brings a sensory recall like none other.

For those with a closer proximity to the field, say, a reporter or coach, the familiar sour smell of athletes sweating in full pads is hardly pleasant, but unique to the sport. For coaches, it triggers adrenaline and a desire to win. For reporters, well, the stronger the smell the better you’re doing your job.

Above all else, the commencement of the football season means that the hopes and aspirations of every team, whether that be high school, college or pro, are feasible, as every squad is equal in the win and loss columns. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of the Pam Pack or Panthers, Seahawks or Redskins (the name notwithstanding), Pirates or Wolfpack, every team has the same chance of achieving greatness in 2014.

For baseball, the months spent impatiently waiting for football will likely push America’s pastime aside until late September when baseball is, once again, relevant.

And, of course, for those who find happiness in other sports, like soccer, volleyball and cross country, this is also an exciting time. However, in general, there is no sport more important to the economy and personality of eastern North Carolina than football.

The first game of the 2014 North Carolina High School Athletic Association begins on Aug. 22, while ECU opens against North Carolina Central on Aug. 30. The NFL opens Sept. 4 with the Packers at the Seahawks.

David Cucchiara is the sports editor at the Washington Daily News and can be contacted by email at with questions, comments or concerns.