It’s me again … suffering from the doldrums that are a Monday in the early fall. The afternoon consisted of menial tasks at the office while trying to battle the evil forces that are also known laziness and lack of focus.
The reality of my situation was that I had press releases to write and bills to requisition, but I’d rather be taking a nap or playing golf … or playing basketball. Once basketball season rolls around, you will probably tire of reading about the exploits of our teams, but the fact remains that I love basketball season.
Of course, that doesn’t quite fit with the status quo in West Texas where football is god. Last Friday was a big football day around here. The local team, holding onto an undefeated record, was scheduled to play their chief rival which was also undefeated and ranked higher in the state. The two teams are split by roughly 60 miles of highway, not nearly enough to keep rabid fans from flocking to enemy turf when the mighty pigskin is in action.
My brother-in-law went to the game. I thought about going, but decided I didn’t want to mess with the overcrowded high school stadium. The stadium was built to accommodate 7,500 fans. According to reports, there were more than 12,000 people at the game.
I spent nearly 10 years working as a sports reporter for a few small, daily newspapers in the area. I have seen my fare share of Friday night football games. I have dealt with dense coaches and brain dead fans. I have written glowing stories about egotistical athletes whose antics would make me want to puke. I have been there when riots broke out in the stadiums, fights broke out on the field and the rules of sportsmanship and fair play have been scoffed at like a bologna sandwich at a $100 a plate Junior Service League fund raiser.
I have seen and dealt with the basest of human behavior. I have dealt with athletes who needlessly showboat to draw attention to themselves. I have listened to armchair quarterbacks gripe and complain about the ignorance of the current coaching staff, all the while basing their arguments on game situation in which they have no concept of the actual rules. I have listened to parents who complain about coaches not playing their kids. I have taken phone calls early on Sunday morning from parents who gripe because the local sports reporter didn’t herald their baby as the basketball superstar that he so obviously was. (The following week said “superstar” scored only four points and was non-existent in a big game. Guess whose baby was mentioned early in the story for his lack of participation. The little punk and one of his buddies generally took the court either high or drunk, maybe both, so he wasn't very high on my list of favorite people to begin with.)
And according to my brother-in-law, Friday’s big game was no different. Fans and parents booing the opposition as the young men took the field. Dirty players making dirty plays through the contest. Trash talking … cheap shots … and at least one coach who has been known to run up the score whenever he gets a chance.
I’m glad I didn’t go to that game. I’ve seen so much of that garbage that it makes my stomach turn. There have been times in the past that I have actually hoped the local team that I was covering at the time would actually get beat bad just because the kids and coaches were getting too cocky, and forgetting about sportsmanship.
After hearing my brother-in-law tell his story I quickly pointed out to those listening … “that’s why I have become such a big fan of women’s basketball.” Not that women can’t suffer from these same issues, but there are fewer of them who harbor such delusions of grandeur and complete self idolization. Especially locally.
Our women’s basketball team held a gathering at the coach’s house several weeks ago at which time the players could get to know each other and the coaches could hand out team rules for the season. The following day, I asked the assistant coach how the meeting went. She said that of the 15 young women on the team, eight of them gave a brief testimony of how God and their faith played a part in choosing to attend this school. That’s pretty amazing.
They may not be perfect, but that is definitely a step in the right direction.
As my daughter would say, “Go Queens!”