orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

April 27, 2013

Violence harder to corral than Johnny Manziel on a football field

Dr. Andy Pate Jr.
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — In his ethics class a professor once required an essay on, “Should Big Time College Football Be Abolished?” This was a long time ago, but an in-the-news topic. Little Spelman College in Atlanta is currently weighing the question. Officials there are thinking seriously about stressing physical fitness over competition. Imagine that.

I was in the “long time ago” class. Previously, most everyone taking the course had never given a moment’s reflection to the question. We much preferred imagining how a really good coach might lead a football resurgence on campus.

As it happened, the professor had assigned the essay after a new coach had been hired who was to make a salary considerably larger than that of the university president, which disturbed the professor greatly.

The new coach did lead the football team to a grand resurgence. His name was Darrel Royal.

That was 56 years ago. Royal died last November and his team’s glory days appear for the moment to be a thing of the past. The Aggies and their Heisman winner Johnny Manziel hog the Texas sports headlines in 2013.

But the memory of writing the essay still lingers. In particular, I recall having argued for the continuation of college football as an outlet for violence, or at the very least, a substitute. The players are our modern gladiators and their stadia, our Roman arenas.

College football has survived, of course. And successful coaches continue to be paid larger salaries than the presidents of their universities.

But at what cost? And pray tell, what has college football ever done to reduce violence in the world?

Nothing.

Terrorists, drug traffickers, deranged individuals of all ages and kinds thrive in our society as never before, at home and abroad; so much so that most thinking people would likely give up a good bit of their fall pleasure on weekends to bring humanity’s insatiable appetite for violence under some sort of sensible control.

People of faith will add this telling point: Jesus was absolutely on the mark. There’s only one way to live abundantly in this world and that is the Way of Peace.

“Peace I leave with you,” he said. “My peace I give to you, not as the world gives. . .” (John 14:27)

As always, it’s a matter of priorities.