Archive for January, 2008

Football in America
January 24, 2008

It’s slow and boring. It’s wimpy with all the padding and equipment. It’s easy when you use your hands. And that’s the tame version of what I’ve found posted on random blogs and message boards about why some Europeans hate our Football. But let’s face it, anyone who came to know former Houston Oilers enforcer Elvin Bethea on the field would know differently!

Check out this website with an open poll question comparing soccer to football. The NFL was ahead 51% to 49% when I checked. Pretty even. I only bring this up because it’s Super Bowl time — our unofficial national holiday. This is our World Cup every year. [Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not working on “Super Monday,” so I can sleep-in, drink lots of tea and water, and let my voice rest from screaming at the television!]

So what is it about football that captures the heart of most American boys (in Texas, it’s all kids, boys and girls)? Sure, at some point most of us realize we’re too small, slow, and weak to make an impression on the field past middle school. But, yet, football leaves a permanent impression on us… like Earl Campbell used to leave a helmet impression on linemen and linebackers!

If after watching Earl Campbell, you still think American Football is for chumps, check out this interesting article written by an American in Australia talking rugby-versus-the gridiron with the locals. Wimpy? Really? Remember Jack Tatum? He paralyzed Darryl Stingley with one hit in 1977 (Campbell ran over Tatum during a game at the Astrodome once, maybe you caught the highlight on the clip above). C’mon, pro football in America was so rough, they had to change the rules, pads or not. So, I argue football is one of the toughest sports ever, and concurrently one of the most skilled.

Consider the thrill of battle, the controlled-chaos in the trenches at the line of scrimmage. It’s the military-effect; perfectly illustrated over the years by NFL Films (which produced the Campbell video above). Or what about the graceful power and speed of a dominating runner — breaking a tackle, cutting on a dime, and galluping to the endzone? Think Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, or, more recently, LaDainian Tomlinson (LT’s playoff performance this season notwithstanding). You can only watch in awe. And let’s not forget the air assault. There’s nothing like a crisp, tight spiral cutting through the atmosphere with a dramatic, leaping catch waiting at the other end. Think Jerry Rice, Lynn Swann, and, more recently, Randy Moss (who usually doesn’t have to jump much). How about the bullet pass that threads the needle and hits the receiver on the numbers in triple coverage?

It’s the stuff of highlights. But it’s also the idea that anything can happen at any time. As they say, on any given Sunday, on any given play, you might see history rewritten before your eyes.

I think soccer and football — the sports and the fans — have more in common than we think. Both sports are physically grueling, while the fans are physically inferior. Both rely on generation after generation of fanatics with an undying love and support for their team, while the athletes tend to go where the money is. And both sports could be considered religions for their respective fans — they’ll defend their teams before their own families!

Let us know what you think by posting a comment…

…and for fun, check out this Super Bowl Quiz on Do you have the answers?

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
January 22, 2008

Impossible is nothing.
January 21, 2008

Once a year, arguably not nearly often enough, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s dream returns to our public consciousness. His vision was so clear: equality, period. One simple word, so many complexities. Here’s the speech, in its entirety:

The basic question is how can we be equal in God’s eyes, but not in each other’s? Obviously, it’s easier asked than answered. I’m not suggesting we all deserve the same “start” in life. That would make me a communist and Communism would make us equally oppressed. But apparently, basic reciprocal respect seems impossible, even 45 years after Dr. King shared his dream with the world; all those decades to absorb the message and it’s hasn’t universally sunk in. But should we be surprised? Change comes slow. Dr. King articulated in his speech back then, 100 years post-slavery and “the Negro is still not free.”

Will we ever judge each other solely by our words and deeds rather than superficially — based on presumptions, prejudices, and bigotry? Forget globally, let’s just start in America. Okay, how about just Houston? That too, I admit, seems overly-optimistic. But isn’t Dr. King’s message rooted in optimism? When his birthday arrives each year, so do the feelings of optimism and hope. Dr. King speaks with such charisma, confidence , and strength you’re almost coerced into believing anything is possible. And it’s different when you hear his entire dream. The bits of sound and video (we call ’em sound bites) you get on the news is an adequate reminder of the Civil Rights struggle and King’s dream for humanity. But to hear his words in full context — during a time of turbulent race-relations, in front of a huge multi-cultural crowd at The Lincoln Memorial, a century after the end of slavery — resonates profoundly like no excerpt could.

More Information:

Click here to read the transcript from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, courtesy of the Stanford University archives.

Click here to read this morning editorial in the Washington Post which proclaims, Dr. King’s “words are more relevant than ever this election year.”

Click here for Time Magazine’s profile on Dr. King, as part of “The 100 Most Important People of the Century.”

Did you know, the FBI had a file on Dr. King? Click here for Part 1. Part 2.

The Flu…
January 16, 2008

No one wants it but plenty of Houstonians have it right now. Break out the Purell, we’re in the middle of a flu outbreak. The American Lung Association estimates we have 70% more flu cases this year than last year in Houston. It’s so bad they sent their Faces of Influenza spokesperson, Dean Cain.

Yes, we mean the former Superman from “Lois and Clark.” Here’s my interview with the actor turned spokesperson. Get your flu shot!

It’s an Odd Universe Out There!
January 14, 2008

…and dangerous too. Oh yeah! Be glad we live where we live. The mean streets of the world’s toughest ghettos are no match for the dangers of the Universe. If leaving the atmosphere doesn’t kill you, a “rogue” black hole could (Rogue; one of those words typically used to describe countries like Iran that sponsor terrorism. Wait! Ahmadinejad and a black hole… I think we’re on to something).
“The deeper astronomers gaze into the cosmos, the more they find it’s a bizarre and violent Universe,” according to the latest research. An Associated Press article on covers this year’s annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, TX. Their research gives space personality — “‘Rogue’ black hole that roam our galaxy, devouring any planets unlucky enough to be within their limited reach.” That’s not to say black holes are somehow looking for our solar system. The chance of us getting sucked into oblivion is incredibly low. But as Lauren Freeman always says, “So you’re saying there’s a chance?!” Technically, yes. Practically, no. Scientists say if you map out the Universe, we’re on the good side of the tracks; “in a pretty quiet neighborhood,” says A.A.S. President J. Craig Wheeler.

Now, how badly do you want to know your neighbors?