Not Feeling ‘Boomer Soonery’ At All, Dammit

flat football

I am not happy.

Here I sit, in Auckland New Zealand, trying to continue my efforts to reconnect to the ‘Merican Mothership, this time by listening to the OU vs Somebody in Louisiana football game.

But that is not possible.  Not unless you are subscribed and endorsed and whup out your Amex Black Card to pay up big.

Alas, it seems that, being Sooner Born and Sooner Bred, and when you die, being Sooner Dead, no longer qualifies you to listen to the Giant Money Making Machine Previously Known As Oklahoma Sooner Football.

And that makes me sick, because…

1. I literally grew up in Owens Stadium.  When I was little,  my uncle ran OU concessions.  So every home game, basically our whole family would be involved. For years and years, while my Mom and Aunts made 10 billion hotdogs, my cousins and buddies and I ran wild under the stadium.

2. When I got to be, maybe 6, my older sisters operated a popcorn machine. And since they were the babysitters, I had to be their assistant.  One of my jobs was to rat around under the stadium (which had dirt floors back then), until I found a few sheets of cardboard which, barely, kept our feet from freezing right off come winter.

3.  My sisters were both in the Norman High Pep Club — so they held hands and formed a chain that went right around Owen’s Field before every game.  And my cousin, Gary Dickinson, was a stud hoss Tiger that I was thrilled to bits to watch — it was from him I learned how to hit, spin and be gone before a tackler could wrap you up.  We were at every Norman High game forever, including the magical night that Bill McClard did the impossible, and I got in BIG trouble for racing onto the field.

4. After both sisters had moved on in life, I was old enough to sell popcorn and goobers up in the stands.  And I sold a MESS of popcorn and goobers, while also watching every OU game.  Live.  For free. With no PPV subscription or anything.

5.  About that same era, my buddy Steve Madden and I spent hours and hours and hours playing at Owens Stadium; kicking field goals, running down-and-outs; running stairs all the way to the top, spitting over the side, and then stampeding down like a herd of buffalo.  I don’t remember if we had to sneak in or if the gates were open.  But nobody cared.

6. After a few years, we’d go to the Sunday morning run-through, when all the Sooner Stud Hosses would jog around the field, laugh, and smart off at each other.  “Yeah, I hear yo fat mouth flapping’ over their, Peacock,” was a classic.  We didn’t need tickets or anything in those simpler times.

7. Then I hit the really Big Time — selling hot dogs in the stands.  Even though the boxes seemed half as big as me, I got to “move up to the Biggs” because, by now, another uncle now ran OU Concessions, and he had my back.  For several years, I made my “Christmas Money” selling hot dogs.  And, even more importantly, I got to watch, for free, every single OU home game, including the Game of the Century in 1971.  (To this day I cannot believe the ref did not call that Husker clip).

8. We’d turn in our boxes and baskets and stuff by the middle of the Fourth Quarter so we could hang out near the Northeast endzone.  When the Sooners started to walk off after the game, we’d leap onto the field, and wander freely among the best college football players in the universe. Sometimes, they gave us their chinstraps.  Sometimes, we maybe grabbed them and vamoosed, like a weasel grabbing a hen’s egg.

9. Then we really hit the Serious Big Time. We got to suit up for the Norman Tigers. That meant practicing on the hallowed Owen’s Stadium turf on Thursdays before home games.  Just jerseys and shorts and helmets.  In September, it was so hot that our black synthetic jerseys just clung to our flesh like shrink wrap.  And if you fell, or were tripped, probably by a Senior, the turf would burn your flesh right off your knees and elbows. That hurt like a mother, but the wounds were also something to be proud of.

10. And, finally, in my Senior year, I started for Norman High.  We got to use the Sooners’ locker room. Un-be-liev-able.  I got to see, and quietly touch, the magic silver shoes that made Little Joe fly.   After we’d suited up and had our pre-game pep talk, we’d prepare to go into battle on OU’s turf.  And we’d do exactly the same thing that immortals like Mildren and Owens and Pruitt and the Selmons had done —  we’d touch the sign over the door that said “Play Like a Champion Today.”  Even though I had to jump up high to touch it, you can bet I never missed it.  Not even once.

And now, 40 years later, I find that all of this matters not to the OU money-making machine.

I “get” that it costs the Earth to win national championships, and that selling broadcast rights, and naming rights, and jacking up the cost of tickets is what you do to win in The Biggs.

But it’s not right.  I just don’t feel like cheering Boomer Sooner.  Not even a little bit.

This has the money-grubbing stench of Jerry Jones Inc.

It doesn’t smell like how OU football should smell — of sweat and leather and adrenaline.

And that makes me sad, today.

But I’m sure I will get over it.

Because I am Sooner born and Sooner bred and when I die I’ll be Sooner dead, Rah Oklahoma, Rah Oklahoma, Rah Oklahoma, O.K.U.


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