Archive for Thursday, January 11, 2001

A return to the good old days

January 11, 2001

Hey, how about them Sooners?

OK, I know there probably aren't a lot of Oklahoma football fans out there, but I had to get a word in for the boys back home.

Growing up in Oklahoma, the OU football team was always a source of pride. Year after year as I was growing up, the team excelled on the football field, usually starting the season ranked somewhere in the top ten.

Being from Oklahoma, where there are no professional sports, the University's players and coaches often took on hero status throughout the state. Through the 80s, they gave us plenty to be proud of.

However, it's been a while since we've had anything to brag about.

I remember the glory days of Oklahoma football. I remember the Saturday afternoons, sitting in front of the television, watching the games with my father. I don't have any brothers and being the youngest daughter, I somehow inherited the role of football buddy for my dad.

I remember the parties that would accompany their trips to the Orange Bowl and the crowd of people that would fill my parents' living room on game day.

Dad would wake up early to put a brisket in the smoker and brave freezing temperatures to pamper it along the way. Mom would frantically clean house only to have it destroyed a few hours later by the dozen or so couples and their children.

We would all get dressed in our best Oklahoma Sooner sweatshirts and settle in for the game.

It was an event; a yearly ritual that we looked forward to, much like Christmas and birthdays.

Then came the lean years.

Several Oklahoma athletes were charged with various crimes and the football program went on a downward skid.

That was the end of the parties.

My dad still watched the Oklahoma games faithfully, but there was no cause to celebrate. When football season rolled around, something seemed to be missing.

Looking back, it wasn't so much the winning we missed, but the way it brought everyone together. Once the party was going, everyone had a good time, win or lose.

We still tell stories of the time my Uncle Charlie kicked his foot in the air after an O.U. touchdown, sending his shoe flying across the room and into the onion dip. For a 12-year-old, that's high comedy.

It's odd how a community feels a kinship with their athletic teams. Sitting on the couch cheering shouldn't give you bragging rights, but it does. The teams truly represent the people of the city or state in which they are located. So, when many of the Sooners were exposed as less-than-favorable characters, everyone in the state felt a little dirty.

It looks now like the Oklahoma football program is back. While visiting my parents over Christmas, I noticed the community pride was back as well. The number of banners hung outside of homes and on cars seemed to be at an all-time high. My sister even bought my father an O.U. window flag for his car.

My parents didn't have a party this year for last week's big game, but I guess it may take a while to get back into the full spirit of things.

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