Friday night, Nov. 2, 2007, the Ada Cougars, a football team that for 25 years has made a playoff appearance, lost to their traditional rival, the McAlester Buffaloes, in a contest that featured the most points scored in any game at ECU’s Norris Field, 101 (final score 59-42). The loss meant that for the first time since 1982, Ada wouldn’t be in the playoffs. In our community, this is a big deal, but to me, it points out a couple of important things…
- Rivalries are pointless, arbitrary excuses for people to be ugly to people they don’t know.
- An enormous amount of emotional energy is wasted on trivial pursuits, particularly the pursuits of those who are relatively unlikely to make any kind of real contribution to the world, jocks.
- Athletics is increasingly split between competitions that center around winning at all costs, and affairs that water down rewards and congratulate every participant no matter how poorly they perform. Both are dangerous distortions of what has the potential to build character, healthy competitive spirit. As with all things, balance is the key.
- Sports as a release for pent-up aggressive energy can be healthy, but is often distorted to pretentious levels of importance. Example: I have witnessed players yelling, “Go out and hurt someone!”
- Sports fans can be hypocritical: several Ada fans expressed outrage and dismay at McAlester’s display of signs and chants that said, “POTAC.” (Years ago, this stood for Piss On The Ada Cougars, but has since been civilized by administrators to replace the “Piss” with “Pounce.”) I feel with a great deal of certainty that if Ada had won the game, no one would be complaining about POTAC.
- Imagine if, as a people, we devoted all our useless NFL, NBA, MLB, CFA, NCAA, etc., energy to activities like addressing starvation, ending disease, caring for children, cleaning up and preserving the environment, etc., etc.
- Do you really think that if an athlete’s uniform says “Ole Miss” or “Green Bay” or “Texas” or “New England” that he/she represents the people who live there?