Backyard Brawl traveling trophy

Christian County Headliner News Editor Rance Burger (left) presents the Backyard Brawl traveling trophy to the Nixa Eagles at the conclusion of their 2018 win over Ozark at Eagle Stadium.

The trick to giving a giant trophy to a hoard of athletes, if there is a trick to it, is to avoid making any sudden movements.

As part of the annual Backyard Brawl rivalry football game, we celebrate the rivalry between Ozark and Nixa that has been going strong for decades. While many of the players have friendships with people and players on opposing sides, Nixa and Ozark will still do just about anything to beat each other at sports.

At the Christian County Headliner News, we reward the victors with the spoils of the Backyard Brawl trophy. The winning team gets to keep the trophy for approximately 51 weeks of the year, and then we take it back so that we can give it to the winning team again on Friday night.

One of the perks of my job here at the newspaper is that I will be presenting the Backyard Brawl trophy to the winning team immediately after the game. My job is to congratulate them, thank them, and then try not to get hurt as a mob of teenage football players hopped up on testosterone, adrenaline and Gatorade comes charging forward to take possession of the trophy.

When handing off the trophy to the team captain, as I did for Nixa running back Sean Sample, I will make sure to extend my arms out so that the trophy is away from my torso and all vital organs.

I held the trophy out so that Sample could take it and start the celebration with another dozen or so players who surrounded the trophy, jumping up and down and hollering all the way. When being engulfed in a mob, the best thing to do is relax and go with the flow rather than fight against it.

As the 2018 Eagles celebrated their win, I relaxed and went limp like a peaceful protestor at a sit-in or like my dog, Bandit, does when I try to remove him from a piece of furniture. I let myself get surrounded by the smelly, sweaty, jubilant mosh pit of football players until I could shuffle my way to the outer edge of the mob and escape, keeping any movement slow and steady.

I’ll be going for something similar this year. Whether it’s the Eagles or the Tigers taking the trophy, my goal is to have fun and avoid any trips to an urgent care center.

I’m really excited for the design of the Backyard Brawl T-shirts this year. I hope I’ll be able to test my throwing arm and fire a few of them up into the crowd on Friday night. More importantly, I’m excited that Headliner News General Manager Keith Hansen will be giving all proceeds from those T-shirt sponsorships and sales to Least Of These and Care to Learn.

It’s been said ad nauseam by mayors, chamber of commerce officials and anyone tied to economic development in Christian County, but the rivalry between Ozark and Nixa belongs on athletic fields and extracurricular competitions. When it comes to community, both sides need to foster a sense of community. By working together in all ventures outside of sports, Ozark and Nixa grow stronger together.

I’m off to go practice my trophy presentation techniques.

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