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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 • Posted September 23, 2009

Refs, Zebras Part Ways…

“Say it ain’t so, Joe” is an oft-cited quote attributed to a young fan following several Chicago White Sox players’ admission to “rigging” the 1919 World Series.

Historians generally consider it a mythical quote directed to “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, whose stock plummeted from greatness to “goatness” with revelation of the scandal.

True or not, it is a reminder of baseball fans’ collective gasp of disbelief….

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Our disdain fails to rise to this level, but hordes of NFL fans are having a hard time accepting game officials’ new shirts unveiled this season.

We have “Say it ain’t so” sneers for NFL decision-makers who’ve introduced orange-and-white striped shirts. This is the first significant change made in apparel since white shirts with black bow ties were worn in the league’s early days.

The discarded black-and-white shirts provided an aura of authority and sound judgment not unlike black robes donned by judges. Reckon the judges will ever “dress down” to pastels?...

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How about a “Top 10” list of what may have prompted the decision to change colors?

I’ll have a go at it:

10. Finally, there’s an accent color to match yard markers.

9. NFL gets shirts for pennies on the dollar from unemployed ice cream store employees.

8. Officials can wear same clothes to circus jobs selling toys-on-a-stick on non-game days.

7. Really skinny ones have shirts for second jobs as jockeys at racetracks.

6. For bad calls, they can add matching “clown noses” for next week’s game.

5. Shirts give fans something to talk about besides exorbitant charges for parking, tickets and concessions.

4. Decision adds color to “upon further review” sessions on TV and jumbotrons.

3. Change gives barroom patrons new trivia subject.

2. League yields to Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, who wants to divert attention from how long it’s been since Dallas has won a play-off game.

1. Officials are sick of being called “zebras.”…

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In Dallas, much is made of costs associated with game attendance that are highest in the NFL—including premium parking for $75 per game. (And you don’t even want to know about the three figures assessed RV’s for close-in tailgating.)

Fort Worth fans can catch breaks on buses offering round-trips to the stadium for five bucks per person.

So when Cowtown fans yell, “Go start the bus,” it won’t be directed to the opposing team’s driver. Instead, the chant will be for their own drivers, signaling that they’ve seen enough….

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It’s the longest of shots when TV analysts predict which teams will play for the NCAA football title—particularly in pre-season. ESPN’s colorful Lou Holtz, a former coach, took a shot at it a few weeks back when he prophesied a Notre Dame-Florida finale.

That match-up turned to ashes, of course, when Notre Dame fell to Michigan early on. Maybe Lou should resort to the old Air Force manual guide that suggests, “When something goes wrong, undo whatever you last did.” If he “undid” his prophecy, he could shine again with his inimitable quotes, such as: “The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely the same one who dropped it.”…

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Some of the brightest, most committed and most admired people I’ve met along the pike have been coaches. One was a man who closed out his career as a school superintendent and served two four-year terms as a member of the UIL Legislative Council. During his life of 76 years, he lived within commuting distance of the Burkburnett family farm where he grew up.

Dan Owen, a giant by all measures, succumbed to cancer recently. A thousand people attended his memorial service in Wichita Falls. He was the kind of man who, as a driver education teacher, scheduled an early-morning session to help a student with parallel parking before her test. He loved others, and relished attending the UIL State Basketball Tournament each year. A loved one’s illness caused him to miss just one tournament in the past 60 years.

At the family’s luncheon in Fellowship Hall following the burial, a movable wall separated diners from youngsters at play in the other half of the hall. The sound of basketballs hitting the rim provided fitting sound effects for a life well-lived. He was as good as it gets….

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. Send inquiries and comments: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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