Friday, October 21, 2011

Ole Miss players just ordinary boys, like our brothers

    The following editorial column appeared on Oct. 16, 1987 in The Daily Mississippian. I suppose I never would have written it had I not visited with football tackle Jay Schimmel, who submitted a letter to the editor a few days before and visited with me for 10-15 minutes.

Football Players Are Just Ordinary Boys

    The year was 1970. Ole Miss was playing Southern here in Oxford. I had a dog named “Archie” and was wearing an “Archie” button. Archie was on the field. It was truly the heyday of Ole Miss football.
    It was, however, a sad day for the Rebels. The Rebel football team, drunk on nine straight victories, had gone to Holly Springs the night before the game and gotten drunk at Bessie’s Lounge.
    Momma and Daddy were not pleased, because they knew, as did everyone else from Holly Springs, that the team had spent the better part of the night at Bessie’s drinking beer. Nevertheless, they dutifully cheered for the Rebels, even though they did so disgustedly.
    At some point a Southern player went down. I don’t remember how badly he was hurt but I cheered. That’s when Daddy turned to me and loudly gave me a lesson in football etiquette.
    “Son,” my daddy said, “Those boys out there are just ordinary boys like your brother. Would you like for your brother to be in a game and for someone to cheer when he was hurt?”
    Forget the fact that my brother would never be in a football game. Daddy’s message hit home, and I hung my head and said I was sorry. While I have perhaps unlearned some of the football manners my parents taught me (I “boo” the opposing team and all Democrats) I don’t think I’ve ever cheered again when an opposing player has fallen.
    These days things are looking much worse for the Rebels than they were back in 1970. We are, simply put, doing horribly, and everyone has their pet theory as to why.
    It might do us well to consider the words my Daddy told me. “Those boys out there are just ordinary boys like your brother.” They are trying, and while they deserve our honest criticism, they also deserve the same support we would give a brother.
    The Rebels, for the past several years, have been notorious for having slow starts. This year, they haven’t even started. Hopefully this weekend will be different.
    Let’s face it. Southwest Louisiana is not a great team. The Rebel team has some talent, if everyone can just manage to use it at the same time. We will probably win this weekend, and I, along with my perfect date, will be there to witness it.
    This doesn’t mean I don’t have some criticisms of the Ole Miss team and coaching staff. I do. At the same time, I also respect people who are at least trying to accomplish something.
    In deciding to play football, players give up a lot of what makes Ole Miss fun for the rest of us. They put up with a “dumb jock” image which, while sometimes true, unfairly overshadows the fact that some of the best students on this campus are athletes.
    These athletes will be on the field Saturday trying to win a game for Ole Miss and some pride for themselves. The students should be in the stands showing their support.
    If your brother was on the field, you would be at the game. And these are just ordinary boys, just like your brother.

1 comment:

Chad Story said...

I boo the opposition and all Democrats as well. I enjoy the activity immensely and do it as often as opportunities present themselves.