I just finished watching “Friday Night Lights”. OK, so the first thing that says about me, is that I don’t watch that many movies, and the ones I do watch tend to be out for a while before I see them, though there are a few exceptions. But I mention that movie here, because it’s about Texas and it’s about Football. Now, on the surface making a big deal about either of those comes off as a bit, well, arrogant and presumptuous, and to be sure Texans have their share of those qualities too, just look at LBJ, but about these parts and some places like them, where you come from and how you even play games is part of your upbringing.
The first time I left the United States, I learned the difference between being an American, and being a Texan. For whatever reason, being from Texas gets you treated much better, pretty much no matter where you go. And it wasn’t a one-time thing; it was pretty much a constant. You get treated as if you matter, and no one is surprised or particularly offended when you speak your mind; Texans are expected to say what they think, and to have strong opinions. About everything, which maybe explains why so many Texans are bloggers.
Now about Football; it’s one of those things that you just either get or you don’t get. My wife is not a big football fan, so I listen to her when I want a take on what the non-Football world thinks. In my case, I didn’t get to play much, because my father did not want me playing football. He had played at several levels, and believed that the only people who ought to play Football were the people who had no better options in Life. And I understood that a person of average size and speed and strength would probably never be able to make a college team, to say nothing of the Pros, and so his football years would be spent on collecting bruises and breaks and tears which would wear him down long after he hung up his uniform. But I loved Football from the first moment I saw it, and tens of millions of American males know what I mean.
Football is more than a game. Beneath all the weight training and running and workouts in sun, rain, mud, and cold, in addition to the cheap shots taken by the low life you always seem to draw on the other side of the line, after the losing seasons and bad calls and endless stretches sitting on the bench, you are changed by the game. Molded, if you will, for good or ill by the coaches and teammates you have. With the right coach and the right set of teammates, a young man just might grow up straight of back and true of heart. The best employees and colleagues I ever knew, all played Football. Football players tend to grow up into men who keep their word, respect their duties, and consider teamwork the cornerstone to success.
I was never big enough or fast enough to play much. And because of my dad’s rule, I couldn’t even try out for High School ball, so I played some Church League ball, which meant missing some of the pads and playing fields that were not in the best condition. I messed up my knees and ankles playing Guard. But that only fed my love for Football. Enough so, that later one when I had a work schedule which allowed me the time, I became an official for Texas UIL Football, working from the Houston Chapter of what’s now called the Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO). Working my way up to a varsity crew, I saw a lot of rural towns and small schools. The first thing you notice on a Friday night, is that every one of these towns is based on three types of buildings besides the homes; the school of course, the churches nearby, and of course the football stadium. Football is a big part of Texas towns, whether it’s a 5A program or the smallest six-man school in the state.
But it occurs to me, that I either don’t have to tell you that, or nothing I can say here could make you understand. It’s a Texas thing.