Sunday, August 26, 2001

All-day football a treat for fans

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The nation's largest high school football event featured 10 Tristate teams playing their hearts out Saturday at Nippert Stadium on the University of Cincinnati campus.

        But for many of the nearly 25,000 fans attending the five games of the all-day football marathon, it was more than a sporting event — it was a celebration of the positive energy of youth.

[photo] St. Xavier senior Denny Perry cheerleads at the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown. St. X beat Oak Hills 40-16.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        Kim Smith, an Oak Hills High School mom, described the giant prep football event as “an oasis of positive energy” in a world too often bombarded with bad news.

        “It's a neat event,” Ms. Smith said of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown, which features more football teams at one site than any other similar event in the country. “You get tired of only hearing about the negatives about kids and violence in schools. This is a good example of the positive.”

        This year's Crosstown Showdown featured for the first time a nearby festival area, with an adjacent field where parents could wander with their children. Dads had plenty of room to toss foam footballs with their sons and daughters as prep fans paraded by in bright school colors.

        Moeller High School fan Bill McMillen made it a point to bring 10-year-old son Michael to the event, in part to immerse his boy in a uplifting, spirited environment.

        “There are a lot of problems going on now with young kids. I wanted my little guy to see this ... all the families here, the spirit and all the color of the event,” said Mr. McMillen, a resident of Montgomery.

        With more professional football players increasingly spending time on the wrong side of the law, Mr. McMillen said he'd rather his sporting event money go to youth-oriented events such as the annual Crosstown Showdown, now in its fourth year.

        “I'd rather watch these kids who aren't getting paid a dime but who are playing hard for their school and pride,” he said.

        For Oak Hills senior April Abaecherli, the event is about football first — her boyfriend Tom Greene plays center for Oak Hills. But community is also important.

        April said fans turn out for high school football in the Tristate because the game reflects the strong neighborhood identification many residents have.

        “It's a community thing,” she said. “And it's a great way to start the school year off.”


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