Saturday, September 12, 2015

Football Returns to Enema U

Once again, it is that time of year when the administration struggles to ramp up a trickle of school spirit for our football team.  I have never actually understood why this is so important, but ever since the state legislature started a poor football team with a small university attached to it, having a season good enough to warrant an invitation to a bowl game has remained the unobtainable goal for longer than the last half a century. 

We aint very smart, but we are faithful.  Of course, you can say the exact same thing about churchgoers and dogs.

The university is still reeling from last weeks decisive loss to a top-ranked team by only a few score of points.  This was one of those blood games, where good teams get to polish their skills by beating the holy hell out of smaller, and less experienced teams.  This is a win for everyone:  fans at the other school get an easy victory to start the year, Enema U gets a fat paycheck, and the Enema U team gets to learn from experience.

That last point—learning by losing badly to a superior opponent—is universally recognized as the surest path to improvement.  This is, of course, why today's French Army is a superpower feared all over the world.

Several years ago, I had a student in one of my classes who participated in one of those blood games.  This young man was enormous:  every time he walked into my classroom, he filled the doorway.  And while he was an excellent student and very good natured, every time he came into the room, I would start to look around for something to hit him with...just in case. 

After the team had participated in one of those blood games—against the number one ranked college team in America—he returned to my class with a fresh viewpoint about playing the sport. 

“Those guys,” he confided to me, “were as big to me as I am to you.”
Not that the school is not trying...We have built a multi-million dollar scoreboard, and the opposing teams use it regularly.  We have built a multi-story sports chalet at one end of the field, so the large-dollar donors who enjoy going to the game can….not really be at the game.  (That one may need to be rethought.)  Currently, we are spending some big bucks to renovate the press boxes in a desperate attempt to solicit sympathy from the sports reporters.  (Also, in case of bad weather, its possible that both fans could retreat there to get out of the rain.)
Obviously, I have a suggestion...One that has already (sort of) proven successful.
In 1944, major league baseball was in serious trouble:  quite a few of the better players—as well as millions of fans—had either enlisted or had been drafted to fight in World War II.  The sport was so desperate for talent that team roster contained men in their forties and youngsters too young to enlist—one as young as fifteen.  With game attendance suffering, a few of the New York sportswriters came up with a wild—and patriotic—way to boost attendance. 
A three-way baseball game was organized between—or rather—among the three professional teams in New York.  The Yankees, the Giants, and the Dodgers would play in a single game, using a rather complicated rotation scheme worked out by a slide-rule-equipped Columbia University mathematician.  
Each team would both field and bat for two innings, then would sit out an inning, before coming back to bat.  After nine innings, each team would have been at bat for 6 innings:  three innings each against both of the other two teams.  There was a small problem with three teams sharing two dugouts, but since the Giants and Dodgers were both in the National League and were intensely bitter rivals, the Yankees—from the American League—shared a dugout with the Dodgers and left the home dugout to the Giants.
The game, nicknamed the Tri-Cornered Game, was an incredible success.  No tickets were sold, but anyone who bought a war bond was admitted for free.  With a total attendance of 50,000, the patriotic fans raised a total of over $55 million dollars (or roughly $750 million in today's dollars). 
There were supposed to be three ceremonial first pitches thrown out by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, but the strain of the first pitch was too much exertion for the mayor, so the next two pitches were cancelled.  Milton Berle entertained the crowd as 500 wounded service men were brought into the stadium.  The Coast Guard band played, and there was a rather strange contest to see who could hit the longest fungo.  The winner was an eighteen-year-old rookie with the rather unlikely name of Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish.  (For those of you who dont know, a fungo is when a player tosses a ball into the air and then hits into the outfield, usually for fielding practice.  And Tuskahoma is Choctaw for Red Warrior.  Obviously, McLishs parents had a sense of humor.)
Scoring was a little complicated, but by the end of the game the Dodgers came in first, the Yankees, second, and the Giants, last.  And there is the point to all of this:  there were two "winners" and only one "loser" in this game.
If Enema U could play a three-cornered football game—possibly with one team resting each quarter while the other two teams played—this would improve our odds of not coming in last by 50%.  We would be doubling our chances of beating another team.
Who knows?—If this new way of playing turns out to be profitable, eventually, they could rebuild the stadium—always a popular idea with an administration suffering from an Edifice Complex—so as to accommodate a three sided playing field, thus allowing a dramatic increase in the number of seats in the stadium.  Currently, most of them will remain empty, but theres always hope for next year.


  1. Mark, as you remember I finished my History Degree as an Undergraduate, worked diligently towards a Master's Degree in Education, but I was aware that any opportunity to teach History in the public schools would require that I also coach. I took the bare minimum amount of physical education classes required to obtain a coaching certification and then I began the arduous process of looking for work..

    My only job offer came with this condition: I could have the Head Coaching position for the 6 Man football team if I would teach English. It just happened that enough of my upper division History classes were also credits in English that I was certified in English and History. I never had the opportunity to teach History, but I was ready to be the Head coach of the 2nd 6 man football game I had ever seen. I watched a 6 man football game my cousin played when I was 12 years old.

    I remember that I visited with a Texas 6 man football coach about the strategy and plays in a restaurant there in Las Cruces, and I was ready. He suggested that we could bring our squads to a neutral field in Las Cruces for a scrimmage before the season started. I thought that might be a good learning experience for the boys on my team who had not won a game in the past three seasons, and the Texas team had won the state championship three out the past four seasons.

    The scrimmage in Cruces was a lot like NMSU in Florida. A terribly mismatched affair. After a few series, the Texas team had scored several touchdowns and the only players on my squad with any skills were injured and out for the season!

    The biggest difference was that we didn't even get a check for the beating!


  2. What you refer to as "blood games" we refer to as "prostitution games"; you let yourself get screwed for money.

  3. Morally, is there any difference between pimping out our team and pimping out the cheerleaders? How much extra would the opposing team pay for that?

  4. With Title IX, you might get up a women's touch football team and play on Sunday Afternoon. As I remember, from the year I lived in Portales,Sundays tend to be dreadfully dull anyway. You could do like the Tyler TX Apaches sports program did and get the girls' volleyball team fitted out for spandex uniforms (at least one or two sizes too small in most cases it appeared). Girls volleyball was a wildly popular sport with all that jumping up and down and bending over to scoop up the ball. The girls team even had their own cheerleaders. The Team was called the "Apache Belles", so naturally the cheerleading squad was a dozen hairy shirtless guys, each with a letter of the team's name painted on their torsos. We called 'em "The Apache Bellies". They always put on quite a show for some reason the cheerleaders were almost as enthusiastically received by a contingent of rather flamboyant male supporters as the girls were by the rest of the guys in the crowd. Women, for whom the team was designed to provide equal opportunity entertainment, were a noticeable minority at the games. Anyway a women's touch football game with the spectacle of athletically fit and buxom young ladies pounding down the field and slapping each other across each other's posteriors while wearing the aforementioned well-stretched spandex could very well help kick up total attendance at ENMU sports events, especially if you got some shirtless, well-muscled guys out there as cheerleaders to entertain the gender confused element of the student body. You might even pull in some federal funding for that under Title IX - another activity that warms the cockles of college administrators.

    Pimping is pimping and according to the federal government should be an equal opportunity sport.