So here we are again, buried like Pompeii in pigskins -- high school and college football schedules playing out as usual as if no one notices the elephant-shaped gaping void in the room.
Just try to locate the telltale seams in the trapdoor through which tradition fell. If only my yawn could stumble upon them, I might be able to generate a modicum of enthusiasm for the football season now upon us. Once again, no Park City vs. Wasatch on the schedule. And, of course, no Utah vs. BYU.
Somehow the 3-AA Park City Miners still got to match up against the defending 2A state champ Wildcats of South Summit but 4A Wasatch lost its opportunity to play either of its longtime rivals last year. It matters not that the Miners once again came out on the losing end with the Kamas squad, what's important is that their fans were afforded the occasion to interact and talk trash with one another.
Hell, I'd even vow to leave my flask at home when roaming the sideline if only the Wasps and Miners could once again work out their differences on the gridiron. Haunting the Miner sideline while exchanging barbs with members of their fanatical red-coated contingent had, over the years, become a sort of sport in itself.
If this particular diatribe sounds familiar, it would be because I spewed a similar rant last year around this time when the then-recent realignment of Utah high school football regions first began to manifest itself.
This is all about me, of course. Unless I end up back on the sideline watching the natural rivalries of yesteryear play out, whatever the Utah High School Activities Association Board of Trustees comes up with to level the playing field matters little.
What, they have six classifications now? All so more mommies and daddies and booster organizations can view themselves as State Champs? Don't they see what their hubris is doing to my conceit?
I can't imagine that the Heber City tailgating industry is doing anywhere near as well as it did back in the day when a select group of Wasatch and Park City fans would slip into Tink Clyde's joint a couple of hours prior to kickoff for a bit of pre-game X's and O's, not to mention quaffing a cold one and gulping down a pickled egg or two.
It's not like I'm looking for the return of the glory days when the latest three-cassette Dylan bootleg could get you and a truckload of buddies to Vernal or Grantsville or Tremonton and back.
These days, a whistled Block and Tackle ditty and a trip to Dozier Field in Park City would suffice. Maybe the occasional jaunt to Kamas. But for this Wasp fan, the annual status quo realignment blues of Provo, Salem Hills, Springville, and Spanish Fork just ain't cuttin' it.
There is little or no cultural connection between Heber and Utah Valley like the longtime, proximity driven rivalry Wasatch has with Park City. Who cares about enrollment numbers when the very fabric of tradition is threadbare? You get the feeling, however, that programs successful under the current setup won't be doing a whole lot of howling for change.
When compared to the loss of the BYU vs. Utah rivalry, however, the absence of an annual Park City vs. Wasatch game becomes, although no less important to my tribe, a microcosm. The collective din created by disruptions within the college game just naturally dwarfs those being emitted by my bunch. And, as they say, it's the noisiest wheel that gets greased.
I truly miss my emotional involvement in the Wasatch vs. Park City rivalry and its ever-changing lineup of players and fans. Oftentimes the games in Park City would coincide with the changing colors of fall, a scene much more stunning prior to the installation of lights at Dozier Field.
Changes have also come to Booster's Field over at Wasatch High School, the biggest one being the loss of our "home field advantage." The methane-rich environment provided by the dairy farm adjacent to the visitor's bleachers is now no more, the dairy having been relocated.
I doubt I'll ever really come to terms with the absence of the Wasps vs. Miners high school football rivalry in my sporting life. I can think of more than a few friends with whom, over time, I've had little or no contact other than on one sideline or the other. Meanwhile, the season of the witch continues its mindless sorcery without me. Boola boola! Sis boom bah!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.