At­tack of the moths was un­prece­dented

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - SPORTS - JOHN MCGEE Sports Writer

I have been cov­er­ing high school foot­ball at games all over Arkansas, Mis­souri and Ok­la­homa and I thought i had seen ev­ery­thing. I hadn’t.

In the se­cond half of the Home­com­ing game Fri­day, I had never seen so many moths gath­ered in one place in my life. I have never seen all that many bugs in­vade Pea Ridge sta­di­ums, even tough the bright lights are a come on for fly­ing in­sects to as­sem­ble.

In east­ern or south­ern Arkansas, at night, foot­ball fields of­ten look like they are lit by clouds on sticks with the huge swarms of fly­ing bugs. I saw a video posted by my nephew who daugh­ter was a cheer­leader for a Nor­man ju­nior high in the Ok­la­homa City area. The cheer­lead­ers spent more time swat­ting mos­qui­toes than do­ing any­thing else and it was said that the big in­crease in rain and pre­cip­i­ta­tion has led to a siz­able uptick in the in­sect pop­u­la­tion.

But around north­west Arkansas, swarms of bugs at ball games are the ex­cep­tion rather than the rule. Hur­rah for press boxes.

An area sports writer had a the­ory that the home­com­ing half­time fire­works dis­play may have stirred up the swarm of moths who may have been mi­grat­ing south when they stopped for the even­ing at Pea Ridge. Here’s hop­ing they keep go­ing, maybe mak­ing Louisiana be­fore the ’Hawks play Gravette this Fri­day.

Speak­ing of Home­com­ing, I found out that very few peo­ple know what home­com­ing is, or at least the history if it. I asked my classes last week what home­com­ing was, and the most pop­u­lar an­swer is “the day the foot­ball team comes home.”

When I pointed out that the foot­ball team ac­tu­ally lives here and hasn’t left home yet, finally a stu­dent asked me “who is com­ing home, then?”

While I have known for most of my life that home­com­ing is when alumni of the school hav­ing the home­com­ing show up for the game and the va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties that go with it. As an un­der­grad­u­ate at Harding Univer­sity, the cam­pus was al­ways awash with posters telling the var­i­ous mem­bers of the var­i­ous grad­u­at­ing classes of the past, where to go to see their fel­low grads on Home­com­ing week­end.

How­ever, at least on the high school level, I have not heard of classes gath­er­ing on those Home­com­ing week­ends for many, many years. Most classes from the past, like my Class of 1971, have their meet­ings on sum­mer week­ends or maybe early fall, but never hav­ing it co­in­cide with a foot­ball game.

You might ask — who started home­com­ing games to be­gin with. There are three col­leges who lay claim to that dis­tinc­tion.

The first was Bay­lor Univer­sity, who held a Good Will Week back in 1909, which cul­mi­nated with a foot­ball game at the week’s end. At the game, the cur­rent se­niors were in at­ten­dance wear­ing their caps and gowns, and grad­u­ates of Bay­lor were en­cour­aged to at­tend the week’s fes­tiv­i­ties to re­new old ac­quain­tances. How­ever, it did not be­come an an­nual af­fair un­til years later.

The next year, 1910, two stu­dents at the Univer­sity of Illi­nois or­ga­nized a rally to boost the sup­port in their an­nual ri­valry with the Univer­sity of Chicago. They en­cour­aged past grad­u­ates to come to the game to sup­port the team in numbers and it was a sort if home­com­ing but not re­ally em­braced by the school of­fi­cially.

The school that is the most rec­og­nized one for start­ing home­com­ing was the Univer­sity of Mis­souri in Columbia. It was 1911, and Tiger ath­letic direc­tor Ch­ester Brewer de­cided

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