The Bar is Loaded #13: How “bout dem Cowboys

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Yes, I’m a Dallas Cowboy fan. I know – we suck this year. And I do mean ‘we’. I feel so close to the cowboys I honestly believe I’m a part of the team. And, as a fan, I am a part of an organization bigger than myself. I can honestly make this claim.

I’m not a fair-weather fan either – not by a long shot. I became a fan at the ripe ol’ age of six.
My mom would take all three of her kids to her parent’s in Phoenix for the holidays. My grandfather – ‘Doc’ – would always want to bet on football. This particular trip he told me to pick a team and bet me a quarter. I picked the Cowboys. The game: the Ice Bowl (New Year’s eve-1967). The result was legendary. Bart Starr snuck across the goal line following Jerry Kramer’s block for a last second go ahead touchdown which meant the soon-to-be-hated Packers won the game. Bob Lilly, the all-pro defensive lineman for the Cowboys unceremoniously threw his helmet 40 yards down field at the conclusion of the game. My grandfather began taunting and teasing me and I responded how any six year old would: I slammed the back door to Doc’s house subsequently breaking the glass in the door. Now, in my family if you did something extremely stupid and/or ridiculously emotional as a child – you were in for a spanking. And that is just what Doc did. Pulled down my britches and spanked me in front of God and everyone (everyone being my mom, sister, brother, uncle, aunt and three cousins). After said spanking I went into the living room and proclaimed to my grandfather through my sniffles that I would always, always “be on the Cowboy’s team”. And I always have been.

1989 was Jimmy Johnson’s first year as head coach. Troy Aikman was a rookie quarterback who was sacked 77 times that year. The Cowboys posted their worst record to date: 1 – 15. In November of that year my wife (re: ex) delivered twin boys. I named the first born ‘Dallas’. Suffice to say – I am a fan.

And as a Cowboys fan – I hate (in order) the Packers, the Steelers, the Redskins, the Giants, the Eagles, and the 49ers. I can barely watch any reference to ‘the catch’ and I will change the channel when Terry Bradshaw is on TV. And although I despise these teams – I like their fans. There’s a kinship. They are educated die-hard fans. Loyal during good times and bad. Faithful to the cause.  A Packer fan will applaud Farve on his return to Lambeau field only to boo him on the field of play. An Eagles fan will complain about trading for Vick only to praise his leadership and ingenuity. And the fans of the aforementioned teams study the game. They know the history and understand the rules on the field of play. Through all this – they remain committed and loyal to the jersey.

And that is the essence of why I dislike the Chargers so. I need to rephrase that – I dislike their fans. They are fickle fans.   First they call for Schottenheimer’s head because the team can’t penetrate deep into the playoffs. Then they call for Turner’s head because they lose early in the season. Now, they can’t even sell out a home game and all but two have been blacked out. Oh, they’re loyal fans alright – when the Chargers are winning and winning big. But, as soon as things don’t go the fans’ way – they head to the beach and catch the first wave. That’s how I feel about football. And realize, I haven’t played the game for over 29 years.

Now let’s apply this level of passion to powerlifting. A sport in which we not only watch but participate in – as lifters, as coaches, as announcers, as spotter/loaders, and as judges.  Is our passion and loyalty less-than what we exhibit as football fans? I think not. I believe the whole ‘loyalty’ issue runs deep within a powerlifter’s blood. Or, at least it should.   And I do realize that although many of you share in the belief of loyalty to NASA, not all do. I’ve had a few conversations concerning this issue. And the most asked question: why is it important to be loyal (in our case – to NASA)?

This is a straight-forward answer: because as a lifter we enjoy lifting in powerlifting competitions. Confusing? Shouldn’t be. Powerlifting is brought to us lifters by NASA. Great communities such as: Mesa, AZ, Hereford, TX, Gilmer, TX, Tyler, TX, Alvin, TX, Denver, CO, Salina, KS, Springfield, OH, Gallup, NM, Des Moines, IA, Joplin, MO,  Flora, IL, and yes Job- Sheboygan, WI (to name a few) were scheduled over the previous years and are in ‘coming events’ http://nasa-sports.com/Events_Powerlifting.html  this year. These meets aren’t scheduled by accident. They are ‘built out’. NASA via Rich, Tad and/or Job will venture into an area usually by invitation.

A local lifter will take on a level of responsibility to build ‘hype’ in the local gyms and lifting clubs. NASA will schedule a first year meet with little guarantee of participation.  Take for instance Georgia. Rich went into Georgia and conducted a 20 lifter meet. New friends were made and the seeds of loyalty have been planted. NASA returns in March to Dalton, Georgia. I’ll bet the meet is substantially bigger.

This does not happen by accident. A few local lifters become loyal to NASA. Other lifters in the gym catch the buzz and want to be a part of the organization. A local organizer begins to conduct his or her own NASA sanctioned event. Before long there are three quality meets throughout the year in a community were just two years prior there were none. That’s how it’s done. It requires local lifters becoming loyal to NASA.

This loyalty is not without responsibility though. As the local powerlifter develops and grows in popularity throughout NASA and becomes recognizable in the greater powerlifting community – others will take notice of his/her actions. If the lifter remains loyal and committed to the ‘jersey’ – it reinforces the system if you will. Novice local lifters get the strong sense of belonging and family. Of being part of something bigger than themselves. If a powerlifter begins with NASA and prospers as a prominent lifter in NASA – then it becomes worth their support and loyalty. That’s the thing about loyalty – no middle ground. No riding the fence. In it from the beginning – through humble beginnings to prosperous times. From the second place finish in a local open meet to the top of the pedestal at the Nationals or World Cup.

So yes, I am a avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys. But please don’t hold that against me – I’m also an avid fan of NASA. And with hope, faith and pride I proudly proclaim to be a faithful and loyal supporter of NASA and I still shout as loud as I can: How ‘bout dem Cowboys