Monday, August 31, 2009

When did the NFL become an extension of Upward Football?

So I was watching the football game last night while waiting on my wife and daughter to get back from a weekend trip to Alabama for a wedding when a most curious penalty was called. Alex Brown, former Gator, was flagged for "Roughing the Passer" because he tackled the quarterback. It wasn't ruled a late hit. He got there just as the QB was letting the ball go. The replay clearly showed that there was no way Brown even knew the ball was gone. It was not a vicious blindside hit. It was just a defensive end beating a tackle to arrive just as the ball is thrown following through with momentum and knocking the quarterback down. But apparently the rules have changed.
Since Tom Brady got hurt, there is a new emphasis on not putting your full weight on a Quarterback when you tackle them. This might be the dumbest rule in the history of football. What is the defensive player supposed to do exactly. Wrap up the QB in a snuggie and gently lower him to the surface so as no to damage the priceless throwing arm of the prima dona? They can't hit them in the head, even if they are jumping to block a pass. They can't hit them in the legs, even if they are being pushed down by an offensive lineman. Now they can't land on the poor guy with their full weight?
I know I'm an old school guy, but if they keep this up, the only real football we will be able to watch is the replays of the NFL Films. Even in the days of leather helmets and no face masks, no player was protected above the others. Maybe we should just do away with the pads all together and let the guys play in a new league called the professional flag football league. But wait since someone might get their fingers hurt pulling the flag, we better just make it the profession two hand touch league. Wait, we wouldn't want anyone getting tripped by having to touch below the waist, so let's make it the profession two hand touch above the waist football league. Ah, I've got a better idea, since we don't want to hurt anyone's ego by having a repeat of the win less Detroit Lions, let's just stop keeping score and call this the professional two hand touch above the waist professional Upward football league. That way every pro can be a winner too!
Let the guys play or give the QB a pink skirt and shirt to wear. Just so we know who we can and cannot run into without a penalty. Bring on college football!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Don't you love this time of year?

Three days into the fall semester in Gainesville. How are you feeling?

If you are a new student, chances are you are at times overwhelmed with the size of the place, the number of bodies walking around and into you on campus, the newness of the late night hours without worrying about waking your parents. But you just might be settling in to the routine about now. Maybe you have cried because you are homesick or you are just now hitting your stride in your new found freedom. Some of you are looking forward to going home this weekend. Getting back to the familiar and the family, back to that special someone who isn’t here with you in Titletown and that sounds really great to you. Some of you aren’t planning on going home or can’t go home until Thanksgiving or Christmas break. Whatever you are feeling you know one thing for sure, this is a busy place this time of the year!
If you are a returning student, by now you have probably caught up with most of your friends and shared the most significant parts of your summer experience. You are settled back into your routine as well. You have your first classes behind you and you are already planning how to spend your first real weekend back in Gainesville. For some of you that will include a chance to worship on Sunday. For others it will mean a night of hitting up the clubs and maybe a few things that you don’t want to get photographed and pasted on Facebook. You know all too well that the stress of mid-terms and the pains of procrastination will come soon enough. Now is the time to enjoy the beginning of the semester bliss as a student in Gainesville. And that doesn’t even include the fact that the first football game as the defending National Champions begins in a week and a couple of days!
If you are a full-time resident of Gainesville and Alachua County you also might be feeling some things. The sad reality that a trip that should take 15 minutes now takes 30 to 45 because a couple thousand of our closest friends are trying to get somewhere on Archer Road in the evenings or NW 39 Avenue in the mornings. The crazy idea to start the public schools on the same day as the Universities only adds to the frenzy of people trying to find ways to schools on the same mornings and afternoons. Maybe we should start earlier or wait a week to let all of our out-of-town guests figure out the best routes to get where they need to go without having to drive through two or three school zones at the same times parents are trying to get to that new Elementary, Middle School, or High School to drop their babies off for the day. One thing we know is that you never go to Walmart the weekend before classes begin unless you enjoy a battle, waiting in long lines, and having to fight for that last Cartoon character backpack or whatever is the latest craze among the college students! Ha, you thought I was going to say first grader. Seems they have the same taste in book bags often. Just walk around campus and you’ll see what I mean. Sponge Bob never gets old, or so it seems!
With all the problems that the fall can create, this is the best time of the year for me. It’s what makes me love living in a college town. The energy level is crazy. People are everywhere. And while it can be frustrating, it is also an opportunity like no other. It reminds me of the festival of Pentecost in the Bible just after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The entire world was in Jerusalem or so it seemed. That’s when the Lord broke out in a myriad of languages that were understood by the people there. Wouldn’t it be awesome if this fall was the beginning of another breakout of the Holy Spirit and that it started right here in Gainesville among his people and the students from all over the world that gather here? That’s what we have been praying for and longing for. Join us in sharing the good news of Jesus to the students here, or where you live, or praying with us for real revival to begin among God’s people and a true awakening among the non-believers on the campuses of UF and Santa Fe! Wow, I love the fall!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vacating Wins

So the NCAA is making Memphis vacate wins by its basketball team because they used an ineligible player. They are also trying to force FSU to vacate wins by the football team for a similar offense. The NCAA needs to get real! Let me explain why this foolishness has gone on long enough and it really hasn't gone on that long.
Does anybody really care that the Memphis record will be reduced by 36 wins? Do they have to count them as losses, or do they just go away to the magical land of NCAA stupidity? Does it help the teams they beat on their way to the final four at all? Does that mean that the team they beat to get to the final four can now claim another final four appearance? Do you think the coaches care about the vacated wins? Most coaches don't remember who the opponent is in two weeks, much less care about what happened two years ago. Apparently Kentucky doesn't care if they will have to vacate wins in the future either. But just in case, the SID should keep that word file handy because he or she is likely to have to make an amendment in the next five years!
The only reason FSU is fighting like crazy to overturn the NCAA's ruling is this crazy competition to see who can outlive and outcoach the other between Bowden and Paterno. That might just be the next reality TV series from Mark Burnett. If that wasn't the case, you can bet that FSU would have said thank you and moved on when the penalty was handed down. Memphis is appealing the decision because they have to give back the post-season cash from that year. Schools don't really care about the wins, it's the other things that make them go off on the NCAA.
If the NCAA wants to really reign in the bending of the rules that takes place, they have to start hitting the schools where it hurts. Take away the TV appearances! That's where the money is and that's what is most important to the athletic programs at big time schools. Let the SEC lose Florida and LSU from it's TV package and see how quickly they move to shore up any compliance issues. Let the ACC lose Duke and UNC from it's basketball lineup and see just how much ESPN is willing to pay for the contract to broadcast basketball and watch how quickly college basketball coaches start to care about recruiting issues.
But they won't do it. Because in the end, the NCAA doesn't care about student-athletes or fairness. They only care about having the appearance of doing so. The NCAA is the police of athletics, but the problem is that the NCAA is also the biggest profit maker from the programs who are skirting the issues and bending the rules. In the end, if they take away scholarships and post-season appearances, and TV appearances, they know they hurt their own bottom line as much or more than the penalized institution. So they just keep vacating wins! Maybe the rest of us should take a vacation from NCAA events....... Yeah right, it's two weeks from game day in Gainesville!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Reason We Are Losing Our Students In SBC Churches

A few weeks ago, I served as a counselor for our churches trip to M-Fuge, a summer camp designed around doing local mission projects. I have gone the past few years to help our Seniors make a better transition to college life at the request of our youth pastor. The camp was held at one of our Baptist colleges, in fact at the place where I did my undergraduate work. I surely don't remember chapel services being as lively as the worship times were with the youth gathered from all over the southern states.
At the same time, there was a pastor's conference happening on the other side of campus. During one of our breaks, I walked over to the pastor's conference just to see what was happening and because I hadn't seen the new chapel that had been built. When I opened the back door and peeked inside I was struck by the beauty of the chapel itself and something else about what was happening during a worship time in the conference.
At the podium was a man in a pressed suit leading music in classic style. The pipe organ was fantastic. The old hymn had the feel of a very somber moment. Looking around, it was hard to tell if I had walked into a worship time or a funeral. I came in at the end of the hymn which was followed by a special music selection performed by a couple accompanied by what sounded like a violin and the organ, although it might have been just the organ. I had walked outside by this time into the foyer. All of the music was extremely well performed. Every note seemed to be right on pitch. And yet, as I looked into the faces of those in the room, none of them seemed to be really engaged with the message or mood of the songs.
As I was walking back across campus it hit me that this dichotomy is one of the reasons we are losing students in our SBC churches. Here we have a pastor's conference and the music is reinforcing the style that might have reached our parents and some of us and right across the courtyard is a worship setting that is moving 500 teens to give up a week of their lives and go serve people in a city that they will never see again. If only we could somehow meet in the middle of the quad, we might have a better chance at engaging our students in meaningful and relevant worship. Perhaps we should have let the Fuge band inject some life in the Pastor's conference and the PC worship leader teach some of the deeper doctrine in the hymns to our teens. I think we need a little of both in our churches to reach both the generation before mine, the mixer generation that I am a part of, and the generation of students that are now coming of age in our churches.
We must do something different or we risk losing our voice with this generation of college students. Change is coming, either we change or our students will find the non-denominational churches or other denominations that will change to address the worship style needs of college students and teenagers. It's really not that bad, just bring your ear plugs if the volume is a problem for us old folks!