Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
Every autumn Saturday at a dozen or so sites all over town, crowds in the several hundreds or even thousands gather at high school stadiums and other sorts of public gridirons all across town. The centerpiece is a day-long slate of youth football games. But along with the sporting activities taking place on the fields, industrial-strength charcoal grills are fired up and rap mixes blare at red-line volumes through portable public address systems. Parents eat and listen and watch and talk to each other about which kid’s going to be the next Vernon or Vontae Davis or Marvin Austin—the Next Big Thing to come out of D.C.’s amazingly fruitful youth football scene. The quality of play on our gridirons really is now second to none: Since the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation took over the administration of several youth football leagues, the city has routinely produced Pop Warner national champions.