‘TIS THE SEASON As the World Cup reminded us, soccer, where you kick the ball up and down the field, is really football. But when Americans talk about football, we mean more than feet. We mean hands, arms, heads; we mean hard-hitting blocks, bubbly cheerleaders, marching bands. We mean spectacle. And this month, when the pros, the college kids, and the high schoolers start their fall campaigns, there’s no better place to experience it than Texas. The NFL’s newest gladiators, the Houston Texans, take the preseason field August 24 against the Miami Dolphins at the spanking new Reliant Stadium in Houston. Reliant is the wave of future coliseums—natural grass, retractable roof—and with many Texans ambivalent or downright disgusted with the mild bunch in Big D, the Houston squad is hoping to be the new state team. The high school season begins with the Texas Football Classic at the Alamodome in San Antonio on August 30 and 31. Eight perennial schoolboy champs (they’ve combined for sixteen titles) play in four games—Smithson Valley versus Port Arthur Memorial, Fort Worth Dunbar versus Brownwood, Odessa Permian versus Copperas Cove, and Baytown Lee versus San Antonio Roosevelt. And in Austin the University of Texas Longhorns, as hyped as a panzer division, host the Mean Green of the University of North Texas on August 31 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. UNT returns more starters than any other 2001 bowl team, and it’ll need them when the squad faces Chris Simms, Cedric Benson, and the rest of the Horns. (See Austin: Sports; Houston: Sports; and San Antonio: Sports.)