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To me, Razorback Sports is More Than Just Wins and Losses

Anyone who knows me knows how close I follow Razorback athletics. Whether it be football, basketball, baseball or ping pong, I try to keep up with how each team is doing. What I don’t talk about often, however, is why I’ve come to love Arkansas athletics so much.

Growing up in the backwoods of Southwest Arkansas, we didn’t watch a lot of TV around my house (Lisa couldn’t believe I didn’t watch the finale of M*A*S*H in 1983). We were too busy riding bikes (or horses), building forts, shooting hoops, etc. In the evening, we didn’t sit in front of the tube while eating our dinner, we sat at the table while the TV sat silent. After dinner, mom and dad might have retired to the den for a little TV time (I do remember mom having a crush on Tom Sellick), but my brother and I usually either wrestled in the living room (I was always Kerry Von Erik.. THE CLAW!) or did some other activity that didn’t involve the TV.

The one thing we did watch faithfully, however, was Razorback sports.  If the Hogs were on tv, ALL of us were gathered in one place to watch the game. Me with my parents, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, all gathered around a 200 pound, 19 inch television (that was usually fuzzy), calling the Hogs, celebrating every positive play, complaining about the refs and laughing during commercial breaks about something silly.

As time went by, those family gatherings around the TV  turned into family trips to Little Rock and Fayetteville to tailgate and watch the Hogs play in person. Oh the times we had. Getting to our tailgate spot early, cooking hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, throwing the football around, laughing and loving every minute of our time together. (Mom and dad always said their favorite part of these trips was watching us boys hollering and carrying on during the games. We tend to get a little excited at times.) Rarely do I remember any negativity during these outings. (Other than when I turned to my brother during a game in Fayetteville and yelled “did you come to the game  to gripe about Houston’s playcalling or did you come to root on the HOGS?!?!”. He pouted for a quarter and was over it.)

 

My brothers, dad and me on ESPN during the Arkansas-Texas game in 2004.
ESPN's camera operators must have really liked us that night. Arkansas-Texas 2004.

Over the years I’ve always said that my love of Razorback sports was more than just about whether the Hogs won or lost. It’s always been more about family and the bond that getting together to watch those games helped create between us. But, never has that hit home more than this past weekend. Driving back to Texarkana from my parents house, after the three of us had spent the afternoon together watching the Hogs come back to beat Auburn, I started thinking about all of those Saturday or Sunday afternoons where, for three hours, none of life’s problems seem to matter. Where we all just relaxed, let loose and enjoyed doing something we all loved together… Cheering on our Razorbacks. I thought about all of the squabbles that eventually ended with one of us asking one simple question to break the ice between us. “So, how bout them Hogs?”.

Then I smiled as I fondly remembered loved ones we’ve lost and the times we spent together watching games. Like the time we took my Uncle Len to a game in Little Rock where it was 37 degrees with freezing rain and he sat under his rain coat shivering the entire game (we never did get him to go to another game with us). Or my Grandpa (the lone Texas fan in our family), always rooting against Arkansas and yelling “yippee!!” anytime our opponent scored (we usually threw couch pillows at him and laughed when he did that). No matter what life threw at us or how mad we got at each other or the differences between us, the one thing we could all agree on at all times was how much fun we had together watching games (Even Grandpa).

My daughter Shelby has taken over her Great-Grandpa's role as the anti-Hog fan in the family.

The past few years, the family tailgating trips together have slowed to a crawl for the most part but we still try to get together as much as possible to watch the games. It’s still not the same though because one brother has been away for almost three years, while one is on the road a lot and it’s usually just my parents and my family these days.  But when we do get together, it’s just like old times. Everyone laughing and enjoying the day. I really hope my children look back some day and appreciate all of the great memories they have of watching Hog games with their parents, siblings, uncles and grandparents like I do.

 

Hopefully my kids will keep the tradition going.
During the basketball game Saturday, this one says "dad, I don't know why you guys are yelling. It's just a football game!".

 

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