Cool Cotton

If anything, now is the time to embrace the Cotton Bowl

Mullets and rebel flags. Those Dallas Cowboys know their target demographic.

Here goes. I am going to write about a sports-related issue. I know better. But I just can't take any more of this hang-dog, slump-shouldered, foot-scuffling, snot-snuffling agony over the Cotton Bowl game.

So the big namesake winter classic football game has announced it will leave Dallas to go to suburban Arlington in 2010. What? We want to be more like Arlington?

I can't believe we're going to let suburbs and football owners and sports promoters tell us what our city is. Or should be. It's preposterous—no, it's obsceneto think we would turn our backs on the historic Cotton Bowl stadium at Fair Park because this one big game is going to take a powder on us.

The Cotton Bowl has everything that the suburbs do not have. It is everything the new stadiums are not, because we are everything the suburbs are not. We're old. We're diverse. We're cool.

Twenty years from now the Cotton Bowl will be too hot to touch, and professional football will have melded into the rebel-flag-waving netherworld of NASCAR, mullets and gated cul-de-sacs. You heard it here first. Then the professional football team owners and some of the big college leagues will ask themselves why, when the world was rushing back into the cities, they anchored themselves out in the boonies.

At some point if we want to be cool, we have to stay cool. We have to know where and what we are and where and what we are not.

I'm not going to get into a technical thing about sports. In fact, they had a rule on the city desk when I worked at the Dallas Times Herald: "Schutze may not write about sports." Apparently I'm not the world's biggest expert.

Right before they posted that rule I wrote about a fight or something at Texas Stadium, and I used the wrong term for the umpires. Oh, my gosh! Assistant city editors and copy desk people were staggering all over the newsroom, falling backward, fanning themselves with their hands, swooning, about to pass out because if they hadn't caught my mistake the men of Texas might have discovered that a reporter at the Herald didn't know the right word for football umpires.

Then I guess they would have had to kill us all.

I'm not a huge fan. My wife is. She's the Texan. Sometimes when she's watching games, I ask questions. But she gets all slitty-eyed and clench-jawed, like, "I just pray the boy isn't listening."

She's the one who got me going on this Cotton Bowl thing. She and Mary Suhm.

First I saw Suhm, our city manager, on KTVT-Channel 11 at 10 p.m. Reporter Jay Gormley was giving her a good devil's-advocate roughing up—always fun for me to watch. He said to her: "A thousand TXU jobs possibly going to Las Colinas. The [Dallas Cowboys] stadium going to Arlington. The Cotton Bowl game going to Arlington. Certainly that doesn't feel good. You're the city manager. You can't feel good about that."

Suhm death-rayed Gormley with one of her real hard looks. She said, "I refuse to be negative about what's going on with the city. Tons of positive things are going on with the city."

Yeah! Much as I like to devil Mary Suhm myself, I happen to know she's got the evil eye and the brass knucks to make it stick.

That's city. The whining and the slump shoulders: That's not city.

I never got the Cotton Bowl anyway. I have a cultural barrier. I always thought the Cotton Bowl should have a mascot who was a giant plantation owner in a white suit, like an inflatable Colonel Sanders running around the sidelines leading cheers with a whip. But I can't say that stuff at home, because...well, I already explained about the mixed marriage. I'm lucky just to live indoors.

The next morning after I saw Suhm on TV, my wife was the one slapping her hand against the front page of the newspaper and using very strong language—very, very strong language, if people only knew—because she was so angry at the slump-shoulders who were saying we should just tear the Cotton Bowl down and not waste any more money on it.

Here is her point: The Cotton Bowl is blue sky and green grass on a keen fall day. It's kids at a summer concert getting fire-hosed for heat exhaustion, which they think is fun, because they're idiots, because they're kids. The Cotton Bowl is personal, tactile, retro and therefore rare.

Best of all, it's old, and it's old-fashioned. It has soul. It already has more history and more experience soaked into its skin than that thing out in Arlington will have the day they tear it down.

Why wouldn't we take something like the State Fair (Al Lipscomb) Classic and promote the hell out of it as one of the coolest, most unique, most exciting experiences that folks of any kind...yea, verily, even white folks...can find anywhere on this planet? ONLY at the Cotton Bowl.

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