“Watching sports like football is the closest the average man comes to the contemplation of eternal things. The game is one of the only places left where we still find cheating to be cheating. We find glory in what is earned. We find corruption and repentance, honor, competence, vanity, and genuine humility.” – Father James V. Schall (1928-2019)
Father Schall, a prominent Catholic philosopher from Georgetown University, died earlier this year at the age of ninety-one. At the time of Schall’s birth, American football was nearing the end of its childhood. In the 1930s, football would begin to emerge as one of this country’s most popular sports.... [Read More]
The date was October 26, 1985 and the place was the great West Texas city of El Paso. I was ten years old and in the fifth grade, and like most El Pasoans was looking forward to the upcoming college basketball season. The UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso) Miners basketball team, coached by the legendary Don Haskins, was the pride and joy of the Sun City. They regularly ranked in the AP Top Twenty (as the rankings were then called) and were expected to not only compete for a Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championship every year, but to also go deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Expectations for UTEP Miners football, by contrast, were lower. Much lower. Gridiron-wise, UTEP was college football Siberia: a place where coaching careers went to die. Such was the fate that loomed over head coach Bill Yung during the fall of 1985. The Miners were 0-6 and the team they were slated to play on that last weekend of October was none other than the #7-ranked Cougars of Brigham Young University (BYU), the defending national champions. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was expecting a blowout. Coach Yung likely felt the same way, but not his young offensive coordinator, a native of San Antonio named Hal Mumme (pronounced “mummy”). For some time, Mumme had been studying BYU’s passing plays, in particular a play called the Y-cross, which the Cougars never expected to see used against them. But Mumme did, and that plus an inspired Miners defense resulted in a shocking upset over BYU, 23-16.... [Read More]
Like the typical American, I knew little of the ruling Filipino pair except some breathless news items years ago about Imelda’s scandalous shoe collection, and fragments about the couple’s downfall. When I saw this book for sale for less than two dollars, I wondered whether I wanted to take my historical knowledge in this direction. Honestly, I hadn’t thought much about the Philippines, carrying with me some childhood impressions of English-speaking Filipinos in Thailand and recent understanding that the Spanish had somehow been tied up with the country. But a sincere Amazon review said that the writer was very good, so I decided I could risk two dollars on this.... [Read More]