Tag: football

We have a problem with authority

Two Texas high school football players gained infamy recently when they intentionally and brutally hit an official who had ejected two of their teammates. A week later, another Texas player shoved an official.

Let’s simplify this. Everyone comes to a football game to see two teams play; those teams have all of the attention. But the truth is that the officials are in charge. Officials represent the University Interscholastic League, which seeks to promote fair contests of skill and will.

These contests generate a volatile brew of passion, and that passion can lead to anger. Usually it comes out in verbal attacks by fans, parents and coaches – often at officials. But sometimes that passion hovers close to violence.

After a Dallas Cowboys game in the early 1960s, police had to escort officials out of the Cotton Bowl in a squad car. The officials had just given the game to the Cleveland Browns when they ruled that Don Meredith had crossed the line of scrimmage before lofting a long touchdown pass to Tommy McDonald.

The place went crazy, and the craziness continued afterward at the tunnel gate. I was about 8 years old and just looking for autographs near the gate, but it was a wild and chaotic scene I still vividly remember more than 50 years later.

We had come to see the Cowboys play. The officials insisted the Cowboys play by the rules, and we fans didn’t like it. I’m sure the players didn’t like it either, but they were not storming the gate.

Despite all of this passion and anger generated by sports, players generally restrain themselves from violence toward officials. Videos of the two recent incidents would not have gone viral if such incidents were commonplace.

Sports officials do an amazingly good job in the midst of fast-paced games. The two football officials I know personally are solid men with solid judgment – and apparently tough skin. They are not your average Joes; they stand tall as men of integrity.

Despite the good job officials do, we often verbally abuse them and now some have physically attacked them. The truth is, we don’t much like submitting to authority.

Those football players are not the only ones resisting authority. Every time we speed along a highway we are saying, “Those speed limits do not apply to me. I will go as fast as I like when the cops are not watching.”

We resist authority when we seek to hide income from the IRS, when we cheat on a test, when we belittle a president or governor we disagree with and when we undermine a boss at work.

We also do it in our religious life. The people of Christ’s church resist God’s authority when we do not care for the poor and hurting, when we do not introduce others to relationship with Christ, when we ignore standards of personal morality, when we do not fight against injustice; and when we give more allegiance to political entities than to God’s kingdom. And the list could go on.

As we condemn the actions of the football players who attacked the officials, it is good for all of us to evaluate our own attacks upon authority, especially on God’s authority in our lives.

(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists web site.)


Football season is here

(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists web site.)

It must be football season because I dreamed about Bob Stoops last night. For those who don’t know, Stoops is coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.

I hate the Oklahoma Sooners. They’re like the evil Pied Pipers of Texas, luring our high school football players across the Red River, and who knows what happens north of the border.

The bad thing about my dream was that Stoops was a nice guy. He, one of my sons, and I were actually planning an IT startup together. It was all cutting edge; we were building a new thing called a personal television that was big and boxy. OK, dreams can be really strange. The main thing was this: What was Bob Stoops doing in one of my dreams posing as a nice guy? Very frustrating.

Back to football. Teams I like:

  • The Dallas Cowboys, that’s the players not the owner. I grew up with Tom Landry, Don Meredith, Bob Lilly, and Roger Staubach. I grew to like Jimmy Johnson because I like to win. I never liked Jerry Jones because the first I heard of him he was firing Landry. Then, he couldn’t get along with Johnson. No Super Bowls; no love.
  • The Texas Longhorns because my Dad loves them, took me to some games when I was young, and always watched them on TV (when they were on in the pre-cable days). I was in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1970, when the Longhorns beat Notre Dame for the national championship. I was not there the next year when they lost, and I think my absence is why.
  • The Baylor Bears because they’re Baptists. My dad taught me to pull for them because of their faith, except when they played the Longhorns, which is when faith didn’t matter. I like the Bears more now because they actually win but more so because a friend gave me four tickets to a game a few years back and thus made a monster Bears fan out of my youngest grandson. Where my grandchildren go; I go.
  • The Texas A&M Aggies, sort of. My dad taught me to pull for Texas teams when they play out of state, and that’s what the Aggies do now. So I pull for them. But if they ever get up the gumption to play Texas or Baylor again, or if they get forced to do so by a playoff system, then my older loyalties rule.
  • The Green Bay Packers because two of my daughters love these guys. Let me clarify. I hate the Packers of the 1960s because they beat Dallas in the NFL championship games before Super Bowls I and II. Do not mention the Ice Bowl or I start having problems dealing with reality. I only like the Packers of Reggie White, Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, and Jordy Nelson (ouch, that knee injury hurt).
  • The Georgetown Eagles because I now live in this town, and any self-respecting Texan pulls for the local high school team.

Teams I don’t like, besides Oklahoma, which I already mentioned:

  • Ohio State because back in the 1960s Texas and the Buckeyes seemed to always be numbers one and two in the national polls, and Dad said it was because the sportswriters and coaches had a Big Ten (read Yankee) bias. I always told him it wasn’t so, but sons will sometimes argue points they don’t really hold. My son-in-law grew up a Buckeyes fan, but he’s late to the game; my opinion is already set.
  • Washington Redskins because they play the Cowboys twice a year. For some reason, I don’t dislike the Philadelphia Eagles or New York Giants quite so much. I think the reason is that the Redskins uniforms are uglier. By the way, uniforms matter. The Cowboys’ unies are major cool. The Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans need a new tailor if they ever want respectability.
  • Any team that plays my teams, except when my teams play each other in college football.

There is actually no spiritual meaning to this post whatsoever. No, wait; I’ve got something.

If we want to evaluate our spiritual lives, compare it to our football lives. Do we get passionate or do we go to sleep? Enough said, I suspect. I need to pray. And, by the way, I never pray for football wins; my dad taught me better than that.

Football emotions run deep

Flashbacks can be scary. Within a 24-hour span, I have gone back in time twice.

Sunday night, I began to care about the Dallas Cowboys again. I started getting actual emotions about it. And then they reminded me of why I had become emotionally detached–they again were Jerry Jones’ Cowboys and not Tom Landry’s and Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys. But what really scared me was that it made me angry, just like the old days when I wore my Cowboys love on my sleeve. Yes, even the great Cowboys teams lost on occasion. It’s not good to talk to me much when I’m angry.

Then, Monday night, I began to care again about the Texas Longhorns. My orange pride surfaced as the Texas footballers faced what looked like a bunch of pansies with their stylish uniforms. But the Longhorns didn’t play like Texans ought to play their national sport. They were slower than the Ducks, less sophisticated than the Ducks, and out-quarterbacked by the Ducks. Texas high schools produce more top flight quarterbacks than any state and yet our state university didn’t seem to get one. I got football angry for the second time in 24 hours.

I don’t get angry much, so why does the play of some essentially meaningless games get under my skin? Gosh, I hate football.

Oh, but I also love it. I’m not sure completely why, but following the game of football is both the most frivolous thing I do and one of my great passions. Give me talk about religion, politics, and football and I’m a satisfied man.

With my football addiction revealed and my football anger confessed, I do at least take some comfort in my two newly adopted teams–the Baylor Bears and the Green Bay Packers. Green and gold look better and better to me all the time, but I think somewhere deep inside me that Cowboys blue and burnt orange will always have a place. Yuck!

Riding into the sunset

I used to say my blood runs Cowboy Blue, as in the Dallas Cowboys’ famous star. I have since undergone a transfusion of sorts. I didn’t replace Cowboy Blue with Packer Green as one of my daughters would have me do; I’ve simply switched to Passionless Red. In other words, the professional football passion has gone out of me.

It’s not just that the Cowboys are losing, it’s why they are losing. They are losing because they have become the Dallas Jerry Joneses. They are an extension of a man who has the potential to be a great owner but who is driven by ego and image to the point that there is no place for team and substance.

I started following the Cowboys before they were winners back in the early 1960s. They became America’s Team over the years not just because they won but because of how they won. They were an organization, not a one-man show. There was the invisible Clint Murchison as owner, the marketer Tex Schramm as general manager, the chess master Tom Landry at coach and the find-players-under-a-rock Gil Brandt at player personnel director. And those top people put top players on the field and prepared them to play. Winning followed. The play on the field was exciting, but it was the work behind the scenes that made it possible.

Jerry Jones got lucky in his first few years because he was teamed with Jimmy Johnson and because the Minnesota Vikings were idiots in trading their future for one Cowboy. It’s been mostly a debacle ever since.

I really like many of the current Cowboys players, but they deserve a better organization. Jerry Jones, for all of his talk, cannot give it to them; rather, he will not give it to them. Murchison-Schramm-Landry-Brandt would make the current players Super Bowl champions.

Peter King wrote earlier this year that the Cowboys have always mattered. They really don’t matter any longer. The Patriots are the Cowboys of today because they have organized themselves for success, and they just keep executing it.

I will probably continue to watch Cowboys games, but they just don’t matter much to me anymore. My wife can remember the days when a Cowboys loss would ruin my day. No more. I just don’t want a rich egomaniac to have that kind of power over my life.

So who do I pull for now? There are the nearby Houston Texans. There are the well-coached Tennessee Titans. There are the Colt McCoy-led Cleveland Browns. There is the people’s team, the Green Bay Packers. But I just can’t go with that last one; I still remember the Ice Bowl.