My Huntsville High School football team won the state 2A championship of Texas in 1954. I was on the team. Most of us had been playing together since seventh grade. We were seniors in ‘54. Kenny Coleman, our barefoot kicker, scored 12 points that Friday night we beat Madisonville 84-0. We ended the season with a 15-0 record, and I got my first and only letter jacket. In my yearbook, Coach wrote that I had heart.
First thing every year coach told us, we had to be at every practice. We had to play hard. I went out for every sport we had: football, basketball, baseball. I never missed a practice. I grew tall early and played until the other boys caught up. Then I became the in-house cheerleader from the bench.
Even as a seventh grader I noticed what Coach said at practice didn’t exactly translate to game day.
The guys who showed up religiously for practice and always gave their all did not play more. Coaches knew who had talent. The guys with talent also knew. Knowing they were good and knowing they would play, they were not bound, as the others of us were, by the rules.
Since 1963 I have lived in Missouri, first in Columbia as a graduate student at MU, and since 1965 as a teacher at William Jewell College and resident of Liberty. I have long been a fan of the Kansas City Royals (earlier the Athletics) and the Kansas City Chiefs, who held preseason practices at Jewell when I came.
I now feel sorry for those whose talents have been recognized and lionized, elevating them in their own minds to a place that excuses them from living by the rules. A monumental disservice we do them, and as a consequence, us.
I sat down at my computer to write in response to what I’ve read in the Kansas City Star these last three days about Tyreek Hill and his status with the Chiefs and now the coming of Frank Clark to the Chiefs, both with domestic abuse allegations in their wake.
They and we seem mesmerized by great talent awarded big income into compromising noble teachings.
While it may be that it always has been so, advancing this as a fact seems a weak and desperate defense of a practice we wish did not exist. What it says about who we really are is not a topic we like to explore.