NFHS COLUMN: Support National High School Colors Day on Friday

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, September 21, 2022

There is no time like high school, especially when it comes to involvement in sports, performing arts and other activity programs.

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director

Whether that involvement is playing on the high school football team on Friday nights, participating on the girls volleyball team during the week, playing an instrument in the marching band or cheering on the sidelines at a basketball game, one thing is the same – proudly wearing the schools colors of the uniform.

Millions of Americans made lasting friendships and have great memories from their involvement in high school activity programs, and the NFHS is celebrating those experiences this Friday, Sept. 23, with the first National High School Colors Day.

The color combinations are endless – black and orange, red and white, blue and gold, green and white – and we encourage everyone to proudly put their school’s colors on display this Friday in football stadiums throughout the country – as well as other venues with high school sports and activities. With approximately 7,000 high school football games alone this week, it is estimated between three and four million fans will be supporting their local teams.

This is a great opportunity to find the jersey or letter jacket in the closet and proudly support your high school alma mater.

High school sports have been a part of communities throughout our country for more than 100 years; and in many smaller cities, high school football games, basketball games, band concerts and other school activities are the heartbeat of the community.

Often, a school’s colors are adopted throughout the community. Street signs, storefront signs, T-shirts in stores are emblazoned with the school’s colors. In concert with the school colors is the laundry list of school nicknames, which includes the usual assortment of Eagles, Tigers and Bulldogs, along with the unusual like the Hot Dogs, Poca Dots and Gobblers.

National High School Colors Day is a day to celebrate the memories, tradition and pride of high school sports and other activity programs – not just for the 12-plus million currently involved in these programs, but for the hundreds of millions of men and women whose lives and careers were pointed in the right direction as a result of their participation.

While participation in high school sports and other activities only lasts three to four years, the impact lasts a lifetime. Many school classes gather every 10 years for reunions with their school colors and nicknames in full display, and even 50 years later memories from the teams dominate the conversation.

Teammates remember the last-second shot in basketball that won the district-clinching game, or the trips to band concerts or speech tournaments, or the bus rides to games against longtime rivals in neighboring cities. Forever moments and forever friends.

The opportunity to wear a high school uniform with the school colors within an education-based setting does not exist in most countries around the world. It is a privilege, not a right, and one that is not taken lightly, as we discovered in 2020 when the doors were closed.

The latest sports participation survey released by the NFHS last week indicates that high school sports are on the comeback from the pandemic shutdown, and that approximately two to three million students each year will be joining their high schools’ teams and wearing school colors. Click here for the complete 2021-22 High School Athletics Participation Survey.

Remember, Friday, September 23, is National High School Colors Day. Support your local team by wearing the school colors. While you are cheering for your team, support the individuals officiating the contest by being a fan – not a fanatic.

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is starting her fifth year as chief executive officer of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana.