Showing posts with label sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sports. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Jackie Robinson, American

Last night and tonight we watched the Ken Burns documentary about Jackie Robinson.

The movie reminded me not only what a great athlete he was, but what a strong-willed and courageous man. And his wife Rachel was extraordinary.

Born in 1919, son of a sharecropper, grandson of a slave, a man of skill and determination.

Last night's episode showed the baseball season of 1947 when Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and led them to the World Series.

I was ten years old and was learning the finer points of the game.

We lived in Midwest City, Oklahoma, east of Oklahoma City, just across the street from Tinker Air Force base, where my father was stationed. He managed the base fast-pitch softball team, and taught me the finer points of the rules, including how to keep score. I became the team's official scorekeeper.

We went into Oklahoma City a few times to watch the Oklahoma City Indians play in the Texas League. I kept a score card for those games as well, and that summer listened to major league games over the Mutual Broadcasting System. That's how I knew about Jackie Robinson.

We all knew that Jackie Robinson was a negro and that he played for the Dodgers.

The significance of a negro playing in the major leagues went over my head. It was just a fact that I knew.  I didn't know if there were others or if there would be others. I just knew that he was a good player and clearly belonged there.

My fifth grade teacher was a baseball fan. All of the games were played during the day but the teacher brought her radio to class and let us listen to the game.

Since I knew how to keep score, I drew a giant score card on the black board and recorded everything that happened.

I rooted for the Dodgers, but it didn't matter. On Monday, October 6 the Yankees on the seventh and final game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Jackie Robinson got seven hits, stole two bases and scored three runs in his first World Series.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Long Live The Hogettes!

The Hogettes have retired! Long Live the Hogettes.


It has been three decades. Thirty years ago the Washington Redskins' front line was christened "The Hogs," in honor of their blue-collar dedication to effective blocking, getting their snouts down in the mud if necessary.

ESPN's web site reports, "The group of male fans who have cheered on the Washington Redskins for three decades while wearing dresses, floppy hats and pig snouts announced Friday that the group is retiring."

The whole story is here on the Hogettes' web site. 

To put the story in perspective, when the Hogettes were organized, there was no web and no web sites.

For that matter, hardly a fan is now alive who remembers that famous day and year.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Reverence Or Sacrilege?

Kountze, Texas (Hardin County). A group of high school cheerleaders painted Bible verses on large paper "run-through" banners that the high school football team runs through at the beginning of every football game.

The Kountze school district prohibited use of the banners, but a state district court judge has ruled they may continue this practice for the rest of the season. Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott came to the cheerleaders’ defense. They called the efforts by the Kountze school district to prohibit the banners “a great insult” that was out of step with a state law requiring districts to treat student expression of religious views in the same manner that secular views are treated.

According to the New York Times, the case has "galvanized" Christians in East Texas and has upset some of the usual suspects such as the Anti-Defamation League.

My question: are there any genuine Christians in East Texas? Let me get this straight: young cheerleaders mark up large paper banners with Bible verses, so that football players will run through them and destroy them? This is supposed to demonstrate religious fervor and devotion? Why not encase a bible in plastic and throw it around the field in a game of ultimate frisbee?

Has anyone caught up in this madness looked up the word "sacrilege?"

I have often wondered, in a similar fashion, about taking our symbols of worldly wealth or "mammon" and imprinting on those symbols the phrase "in God we trust." Is this intentional or merely unintentional mockery of God?

What has become of our sense of the sacred?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Football - A Liberal, Collectivist Enterprise

Conservative columnist George Will has uncovered a liberal, elitist plot - the introduction of football into higher education. Football teams, after all, succeed because of effective teamwork, planning and organization. They don't succeed because of stars, who can't score without blockers.

If Will had any direct personal experience with military operations, he would know that the military is a collectivist enterprise as well.

I guess that's why George Will is so fascinated with baseball. Still, there's a disturbing amount of teamwork there as well. Hard to imagine a triple play or a hit and run play without teamwork.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


So why am I keeping my eyes open as midnight approaches, to see which remarkably talented young woman wins the all around gold medal in gymnastics?

I don't know.

I enjoyed seeing Gabby Douglas win.

But the silver and bronze medalists and the others who competed were all pretty amazing.

Gabby is a winner!

But the truth is, there isn't a loser among them.

Three cheers for the whole bunch.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

So How's The Football Team Doing?

I confess. Over the years, I have enjoyed watching college sports. When I was a student at Ole Miss, I even watched some of the games from the sidelines, wearing a press pass and carrying a 4x5 Speed Graphic press camera. I can still, fifty odd years later, give a rousing "Hotty-Totty," the Ole Miss cheer.

But I never understood what big time college sports have to do with education. Lately, I have to conclude that college sports interfere with education.

Last September, I received a weird e-mail from the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi complaining about "anonymous, malicious and public attacks" on the athletics director, including threats on the chancellor that it "will get real ugly" if the director isn't removed. A month later I received an e-mail from an organization seeking my support in their effort to get rid of the athletic director. Earlier this month I received a letter informing me that both the football coach and the athletic director have resigned.

All of this came to mind as I heard the news about Joe Paterno and the Penn State football team. Plainly in both cases, the tail is wagging the dog.

I imagine few members of the public in either Pennsylvania or Mississippi know the name of a single college professor or the head of the institution, but they know the name of the coach. And to most of them, the most important fact about a public university is the football team's won-loss record.

In the face of this set of priorities, any talk by our political leaders of a need to improve higher education is whistling in the wind.

The distortion of priorities starts well before college. This morning I read that a group of high school parents has filed a suit in New Mexico seeking to insert their high school into the state playoffs. The issue? Game officials started the clock too soon at the end of the game (by three seconds), depriving the team of the chance to kick a forty-one yard field goal and possibly get three additional points in a game they won, that would have improved their ranking enough to make the playoffs.

Does anybody really care about education?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cardinals Vs. Rangers? What Gives?

I don't suppose I'm any more surprised than anyone else that the baseball playoff series sent Saint Louis and Texas to the World Series.

Not exactly a subway series.

For you youngsters who don't know what a subway series was, that was a series where the fans could get to all of the games on the subway. It might have happened, for example, between the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Braves. Or the Philadelphia Philles vs. the Philadelphia Athletics. Or more likely, the New York Yankees vs. either the New York Giants or the Brooklyn Dodgers. About the only place a subway series might happen today is between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. Would that be a BART series? Washington Nationals vs Baltimore Orioles doesn't qualify, either. It might be a MARC series.

The first World Series I remember was the 1947 series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. A subway series.

World Series games were daytime games until 1971. The exception is the final inning of the 1949 series was played under the lights. Otherwise the game would have been called because of darkness.

We had no television in Midwest City, Oklahoma in 1947. We followed the World Series on radio. My sixth grade teacher let the class listen to the games. I was the only member of the class who knew how to keep score, so I chalked a big scorecard on the blackboard and kept score during the games. It was a pretty exciting series, going seven games. Even then, I rooted for whoever played the Yankees, but it was in vain. Brooklyn lost.

I'm sure we learned something during those October afternoons, but I don't remember what it was.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cheerleading Politicians

A curious feature of American elected officials is that a number of them prepared for officialdom by serving as cheerleaders either in high school or college.

It makes sense. The function of a cheerleader is to stir the crowd to a hysterical level of support and optimism, no matter how dire the circumstances. The opposing team is ahead by four touchdowns and has the home team's back against the goal line, threatening another score. "Push 'em back," the cheerleader cries to the shouts of the fans, "push 'em way back.!"

Cheerleaders don't organize or select the plays,don't throw any passes, don't catch the ball or set any blocks. They don't even carry water to the folks who do.

Reality plays no part in the matter at all.

Among former cheerleaders in politics:

Thad Cochran, senior senator from Mississippi (Ole Miss);
Trent Lott, former senator from Mississippi (Ole Miss);
Kay Bailey Hutchison, former senator from Texas (University of Texas);
George W. Bush, former governor of Texas and former president of the United States (Phillips-Andover);
Rick Perry, governor of Texas (Texas A&M).