A Texas Religion

It is that time of the year, a time folks in Texas and in the South have been waiting for. It is called football season.

It has been said there are only two seasons in Texas: football season and spring football season.

Football in Texas is its own religion. Whether you are watching the game under the Friday night lights, joining 25,000 of your closest friends on Saturday, or checking your watch in church to make sure your preacher gets you out on time on Sunday, there are more than a few prayers being said in the name of football on any given day in Texas.

Just last week, I headed to Waco, Texas, with my entire family to watch my alma mater, the Abilene Christian Wildcats, take on the Baylor Bears. The outcome wasn’t what we were hoping for, but there is nothing better than college football under a Texas sunset.

Texans naturally believe everything is bigger and better in Texas—because it is. My son, Kurt, started playing football when he was 8 years old, and I have watched him play every game from Humble, Texas, pee-wee football until he took the field wearing the purple and white of our alma mater, Abilene Christian University.

From the beginning, Kurt played quarterback. Being the quarterback is one of those positions that is tough on parents. It is all the fame or all the blame. Every time I saw him take the field, I saw that same little 8-year-old boy full of determination.

It was that very determination that led to him being a walk-on at Abilene Christian University and earning a spot as a safety and becoming an Academic All-Conference player.

I was a judge during that time in Texas in Houston, and I would head out on Friday night after court and drive all night to towns such as Abilene; Kingsville; Canyon; Wichita Falls; Commerce; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Ada, Oklahoma, to get there in time for Saturday’s game.

There is nothing more fun than being in a stadium on that first weekend and seeing your team and your son take the field to thousands chanting, ‘‘Wildcats, purple, white, purple, white, fight, fight, fight.’’

Last week I saw Kurt’s son, my grandson, Jackson, take the field, also as safety, for the Georgetown, Texas, middle school team.

Texas football is a legend and legacy. It has spawned books, movies, TV series, and it has been known to ruin a family dinner or two in a house divided over the loyalty of their team. Blood may be thicker than water, but it is not thicker than football.

Yes, Texans love football, right down to the names they choose for their children and to the cars they drive. I am sure there is some big executive in Detroit wondering why they have to send so many maroon pickups to Texas. Well, of course, they are for the Texas Aggie fans.

We may not have too many fall weddings in Texas, but I am willing to bet you that you have been to a wedding where the new Mr. and Mrs. took off down the aisle to the University of Texas’ "The Eyes of Texas" or got a big Texas A&M "Whoop" after the preacher declared them husband and wife.

But it is not just the action on the gridiron. It is the atmosphere; it is the band; it is the drill team; it is the cheerleaders; it is the moms selling Tshirts, the school clubs hanging banners, the same old guys in the same old seats season after season in the stands, and the whole atmosphere of what makes the game great.

So, it is that time of the year. Put on your school colors; head for the game; grab some hotdogs and Dr Pepper or Coke; and take part in one of Texas’ finest religious traditions: Texas football.

And that is just the way it is.


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