by Charles Feltch
While covering the Homecoming game for WCSU Football, a friend of mine in the stands who’s also a writing major asked me why there are so many players on the sidelines. I said there are more players and positions in football than most sports, and by extension there are more players who have to sit on the bench. My friend asked me why so many guys would put in all that time and work into practice if they’re just going to sit on the bench. I told her to write something about it, and she agreed. But she backed out, so I am taking the task up while she, figuratively, is going to sit on the bench.
The second string players; the backups; the replacements; the benchwarmers. Even if you don’t know sports, there’s a stigma attached to these types of players. What most people don’t know, even most who do know sports, is that these players are just as important as the starters. On any team, the small, weak second stringer who’s giving it their all in practice could be a wake-up call to the starter who’s taking it too easy. The practice team who manages to overcome the starters in practice will help them better prepare for the real thing.
For the ones who are lucky and determined, a benchwarmer can one day be a starter. I don’t even necessarily mean in the sports itself, but in the fields of life beyond a 300 yard piece of turf. Over time, the uniforms, the trophies, and sadly even the memories of sports will fade, while the discipline, the bonds and the spirit of winning will carry on in those who did things right. So while a starter in their prime may run away with the night of the big game, with the crowd chanting their name, a benchwarmer can see that, learn from it, and years later run away with life.