Our cover story for this issue is a nod to a sport I have come to love, even though I am not in love with all that is professional football: the money; the behind-the-scenes hijinks; the domestic abuse masquerading as machismo; the high school locker room initiation rites that have spiraled to hazing, and much more.
But many of the same issues affecting football also affect other professionals, whether pastors, teachers, doctors, psychiatrists, CEOs, governors, heads of state. There are scoundrels and scandals in every line of work, every country of the world, every family.
In my own family, two of our daughters are more rabid football fans than their father at this stage in life. They were cast under its magic spell sometime between Dad’s frequent Sunday afternoon jubilant “go-go-go-go-TOUCHDOWN!” enthusiasm—and when they themselves became players on the field.
Daughters on the football field? Sure, musical players in marching band: great experiences that formed their lives from adolescence and right on through college (one in marching band at college level). Regarding the actual game, today two of them understand it far better than I: the positions, the strategies, the players, the statistics, the subtleties—and “manage” their own fantasy football teams.
An additional downside for TV fans of the game is that many family quarrels unfortunately take place during this most special time of year: great feasts at Thanksgiving and Christmas that too often must be hurried because some in the family don’t want to miss opening kickoff.
I have enjoyed watching a finely tuned football player’s graceful movements, which have been compared to that of a ballet dancer. Indeed some players study ballet to strengthen and perfect their flexibility, balance, body control and timing. If you have ever watched a great receiver leap into the air, twisting his body to cradle an impossible catch, perhaps adding a smooth somersault on the landing, you know what I mean.
Often there comes a crunch and a crack, which our cover star, Sonny Randle, a valley resident, had his share of—a price he is paying now. He does not regret his 10 years playing the professional game, and it must be said, in a much earlier era. As a sports broadcaster/commentator for many years, his voice may be more familiar than his face. I have had the opportunity to see him almost weekly when he comes to our office to record his “Sports Minute” at Alive Recording Studios in the same building. He plans to retire from that enterprise at the end of this year. I hope you enjoy sitting down with him to find out more about his family and his life.
Like anything else, we need to keep sports in perspective and not let it take over family life, whether as spectator or participant. Taking part in team sports offers exercise, teamwork, camaraderie, and of course learning about winning and losing. If we have two or more children, involvement in even just one sport per season with practices and games, can be a huge challenge to balance school work, family and church life.
Being a fan or parent gives us opportunity to practice good sportsmanship, patience and perspective. I always recall what one guy told me about following a college or professional team: “It is fun to care deeply about something that ultimately matters so little in terms of my own daily life.”
In this special holiday season, football games on TV are very much a part of family life, but don’t let good natured rivalries and kidding become putdowns, ugliness or hurt feelings. After too many hours of sitting in front of a screen, don’t forget the beauty of getting out and moving your own muscles in a friendly game of pick up soccer, basketball, tennis, racquetball, tag football or a brisk walk.
Melodie Davis, editor