Tyler ISD Superintendent Marty Crawford got goosebumps as the ball was kicked off to start the 5A football season in Texas Thursday night with a game between Texas High and Tyler High at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.

But it wasn’t the 22 players in motion that caused the excitement.

“I got chills and it wasn’t because we were playing a game, it was the kids getting a chance to do what they do. The Big Blue Band, the Brigadettes, the players, the cheerleaders,” Crawford said. “Getting to play football and perform is a good thing because it’s been an abnormal seven months, so this is getting back to normal for us.”

The Big Blue Band (playing the music of Billy Joel at halftime) and Brigadettes (in their 84th year) were in the south end zone instead of filling the bleachers. Fans were wearing face masks for the most part and distanced because of marking in the stands.

But the biggest change was the tickets. Fans had to buy tickets before the game on the computer and have their cell phone scanned. Some had to scan a QR code at the gate. There were a few who could not use the website. No cash changed hands.

“It was pretty seamless when they could show it on their phone, but for those who had not done that before it was tough and there were some issues on the website,” Crawford said. “As far as no cash changing hands, I don’t think we will do this forever, it’s hard to do at the gate and it’s high school. But in the future I think we will do some kind of electronic tickets.”

As Crawford looked over Earl Campbell Field and around the stadium he said, “People are being responsible. The only ones I saw without masks were not sitting by anyone. Everyone is trying to keep on face coverings.”

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John is a two-time national columnist of the year. He has earned top AP awards for news, videos and sports writing and won the Thomas J. Bulson Investigative Journalism award. He has appeared on CNBC's American Greed, FOX News and CNN.

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