The Texas Bowl 2010

Yesterday, we went to the Texas Bowl ( I’m sure it was some kind of “fruit or corn chip bowl or something but I just didn’t pay that much attention). My wife ran track at Baylor and my youngest son is a Baylor alum so, I suppose I felt some bit of Green and Gold Bear spirit rise up enough to get me out of the house on a very, ugly, rainy day here in Houston – One of those days that reminds me why God made television sets, fireplaces, and dry socks.

But it wasn’t just the game. The night before, we got together with some of Meg’s friends from school at a favorite Mexican eatery. They had invited us to come along to the Bowl game so, heck, why not? It’ll be fun!

And it was! Great hang and fellowship with friends.

Getting to the seats, well that was another story. But even though we were pretty much soaked (Where is that umbrella?) we enjoyed the chance to do something different during the holidays.

I couple of weeks ago, I’d heard there had already been 55, 000 tickets sold. This was Baylor’s first trip to a bowl game in a long, long time and there are lots of Bear fans in the Houston area. Apparently, a lot of those ticket holders decided to ride it out in a Barcalounger beside the aforementioned fireplace . . .dry socks and all.

On the upside, there were lots of empty seats so we could spread our group out. Ahh….$4 Pretzels, $13 Chicken Tenders.

Now to the game. You know . . . the football game . . . what we came to watch? Remember?

The Baylor team just looked terrible. After the first kickoff return and a series of plays that took the Bears down the field into Fighting Illini territory (Illini? . . . I scoured the sidelines the whole time and nary an Illini was spotted much less a fighting Illini). Then a turnover.The late great Don Meredith could have launched into the Willie Nelson classic “ Turn out the lights, the party’s over . . .”. It looked like the the Illinois coaches were calling the plays for the offense AND the defense!

On the subject of momentum in sports . . .

At this point in my aging process, I’m wary of turning into some “I remember back when . . . “ kind of sourpuss. So anything like I’m about to address gets filtered through process with such questions like “Is it just me or . . . “ or “Am I the only one that thinks something has gone terribly wrong here?” or “Am I crazy or are the players just standing around a lot?”

To me, the absolute worst thing about live sporting events (and I’ve seen a Superbowl, a couple of Monday Night Football games, the NBA and so forth) is the total lack of momentum. Yesterday, on more occasions than I could count, one team would make a great play, the crowd would go wild only to watch a little (heck, from where we were sitting they all looked little!) man in a red jacket walk out to the corner of the field and hold up his hands. Ladies and gentlemen, meet TV-timeout-guy.

The game has been pinned to the turf by television – a helmet to helmet collision leaving the Network standing looking down at Sport who just suffered a life-changing concussion! The television network and crew is not there to capture and present the event. They’re there to control the event, to manipulate it for commercial purposes. It’s less competition than commerce. When you’re home, watching on TV, you hardly notice because of the endless stream of clever commercials that fills the holes. (My fav is the etrade baby . . . how do they get him to talk like that???) But when you’re in the stands, the action stops, the players just stand around waiting for the little red man to spin his arms signaling the restart of play.

Something has gone wrong.

Listening to sports-talk radio in Houston a few months ago, the subject was how difficult it was becoming to get fans to go into the stadium before the kickoff. Seems the ticket holder is reluctant to leave their tailgate setup – many of them complete with oversized flat-screen TVs, sophisticated smokers and gas grills, gourmet meats and fixin’s and beverages bought at the local store, etc.

The first time I remember thinking that the tables were turning in the live sporting event world was at a NFL game in Chicago years ago. The Bears vs the Packers. Classic rivalry. At Soldier Field for crying out loud! It was very clear from the beginning that a lot of the people in the seats were not there to watch the game as much as they were there to (1) Be Seen (2) Be Able to tell friends “I was at the game” or (3) Separate themselves from a serious amount of disposable income or (4)see who could consume the most mead and still walk to the car.

I try not to worry. I know the Bible has lots to say about it. It doesn’t so much tell us the result of worry but in this heavily over-informed culture, we get the word about the effects of worry and stress. But I’m . . . uh . . . concerned about the world of the future. The world that will play host to my grandchildren and beyond. A world where we Tweet but don’t talk much, where we can have 5000 “friends” on Facebook but don’t know the names of the people across the street.

Geez….now I do sound like a sourpuss.

Whatever it takes, take a few swings in 2011 and fight back at the advancing polarizing scoundrels that, in their vicious but subtle ways, chip away at the core of what it means to be loving, caring, concerned, human beings. You can take a swing in love. Sometimes all you have to do is speak up or point out or suggest. God, by His Spirit in us, can provide the insight and the ability to change a few things if I just pay attention. And He can give me the grace to pull it off!


Remember that?

Now, if I could just kill a few more pigs and conquer the next level. Angry Birds! You rock!