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Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Blue-Gold Legacy: More Than a Game

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Kevin Noonan
Kevin Noonan
Kevin Noonan has covered and commented on the Delaware sports scene for more than 30 years, everything from amateur recreation leagues and high schools to local colleges and the Philadelphia professional teams. He’s been voted Delaware Sportswriter of the Year multiple times and currently covers the Philadelphia Eagles for CBSSports.com and teaches creative writing courses at Wilmington University.

The game isn’t as popular as it used to be, at least when it comes to attendance. But the impact it has on everybody involved is as strong as ever and lasts just as long.

On Saturday, for the 57th straight year, hundreds of young people will take part in the Blue-Gold football game. However, this is really the Blue-Gold Experience. The ones you hear the most about will be on the field, playing in the final game of their high school careers. But there will be others standing on the sidelines cheering and there will be others in the end zone playing their musical instruments and there will be others in the stands doing whatever it is ambassadors do.

And, of course, there will be all the kids for whom this is all about.

No athletic event in Delaware does more or means more than the Blue-Gold Experience. Beyond the tangible benefits – this past year, the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with Cognitive DisABILITIES provided 27 Delaware agencies and organizations with grants of $125,000 each – the game and the celebrations that surround it have an immediate and profound effect on all those young minds. I’ve never met anyone who had anything to do with this game who wasn’t changed by the experience, who didn’t look at the world a little differently.

Since Bob Carpenter and Jim Williams started the Blue-Gold game back in 1956, the powers that be have wisely expanded the experience to include cheerleaders, band members and, eventually the Buddy system, which has become the real heart of Blue-Gold week. And with the ambassador program getting dozens more young people involved, this is one instance where more is definitely merrier.

And it’s not just the kids. Their parents and other family members get pulled into the experience and they, too, get a chance to broaden their horizons. Plus, let’s not forget the dozens of volunteers who make it all happen, people who get involved simply because it makes them feel good.

Another interesting part of the Blue-Gold game is the family history that weaves throughout it, as different generations take part in the experience.

The two coaches for this year’s game personify that. Frank Moffett of Hodgson is coach of the Blue team and his brother, David Moffett, played in the 1993 game. And Gold coach Mike Hyde of St. Andrew’s played in the 1987 game and his father played in the 1959 game and was later a coach for the Blue team.

“I got some great exposure to what this game is all about and what it benefits,” Frank Moffett said.

Despite all of that, the game itself doesn’t draw as many fans as it used to. The date of the game has been moved around and different attempts have been made it boost interest, but to no avail. That’s just the way it is today, with all the other distractions and activities out there.

But even though one goal of this event is to raise money, the real goal is to raise awareness. And the people who run the Blue-Gold Experience have always done a terrific job at that.

So, that’s the real legacy of this game and this week, something that will last long after everybody has forgotten the final score. The hundreds of young people who sacrifice their time and energy will grow up and someday their generation will run the world. Let’s just hope that some of those world-runners were involved with the Blue-Gold Experience, because the world will be a better place for it.

Contact Kevin Noonan at knoonan32@aol.com.

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