Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

My ancient Uncle Mort claims only fuzzy memories of Texas’ first hockey games. He said something about chipmunks competing on 50-pound ice blocks, or something equally absurd.


Dr. Don Newbury

Suffice it to say that the sport has fully arrived. When 86,000 fans showed up at Dallas’ Cotton Bowl for the “hockey classic” featuring the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators, he was “goggle-eyed.” His voice cracking, skin crawling and lips quivering, he noted that the “classic” drew the second largest crowd in National Hockey League history in a facility previously known only for football.

Further, it was scheduled smack in the middle of the nation’s bloated 40-game spate of football bowl games. Times, they are a’ changin’.

Big D hockey fans have even more to crow about. Their team handily defeated Nashville, while two of Dallas County’s bowl games held little interest to local fans. In fact, the Frisco Bowl attracted 12,120 folks, and the Servpro First Responders Bowl a few miles away at SMU’s Ford Stadium had an announced crowd of 13,164.

These two Dallas County venues were dead last in attendance at the country’s bowl games. Only the Rose Bowl crowd of 90,000 exceeded the hockey event, and then by only 4,000.

Had I attended the hockey game, I wouldn’t have known the players even if I had a program, would have yelled only when I heard others cheering, probably needed help ordering a hot dog, and may have been most fascinated by the pre-game pig races.

Like millions of others, I “channel-hopped” and “fast-forwarded” to watch pieces of most of the games on TV.

Two vignettes brought smiles, and neither was connected with game action. In one, a receiver who thought the pass he bobbled in the end zone was declared a touchdown. He “high-fived” the surprised game official, who “sort of” held up his hand to complete the gesture.

And one of the TV announcers at the Famous Idaho Potato bowl game–promoting the Mobile Bowl in Alabama–pronounced the name “Mow’bull” instead of “Mo’beel.”

Lone Star State football fans are moaning about the Big 12 Conference’s poor showing in bowl games.

Fans like to argue about relative strength of conferences, with many criticizing Texas A&M for bolting to the Southeast Conference several years ago.

It is noted that the SEC members won nine of 11 games, while the Big 12 managed just two wins in nine games.

One more sports item about Dallas: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was beyond deliberate in his dismissal of Jason Garrett as head coach after a mediocre nine-year stint. When it was all said and done, they didn’t offer “high fives,” but likely are continuing a friendship spanning almost three decades.

Until a new coach is named, jokes will continue, one suggesting that Garrett should check schedules for the next bus leaving Dallas, and to “be under it.” (Editor’s Note: Since this column was written, former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy was named coach of the Dallas Cowboys.)

One old story is about a coach who was hired with much enthusiasm. TV cameras recorded every aspect of the hiring, and sportswriters recorded both “jots and tittles.” The coach stumbled through five seasons, and was dismissed. Again, the cameras and reporters recorded it all. His opening remark: “I am leaving the same way I came in here–fired with enthusiasm.”

Meanwhile, in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis slapped a woman’s hand when she attempted to pull him into the crowd. TV cameras conveyed the visual image to millions of viewers around the world.

Later, the pontiff apologized, acknowledging his “bad example.”

To me, the pope showed himself to be human. Perhaps he’d had a bad day, or ongoing heartburn. Who knows? Maybe he was a bit miffed that he was unable to attend the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, where Notre Dame humbled Iowa State, 33-9. I’m guessing that if he’d been there, he would have grown weary of the opportunities for “high fives” on this grand day for the Irish.

Dr. Newbury is a former educator who “commits speeches” round about. Comments or inquiries to: Ph.: 817-447-3872. Web: Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury. 



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