Football stories


A Life


Football has been the topic of nearly every conversation I’ve had lately. That’s due in part to the fact that Altrusa International of Hermiston is hosting author Charles Martin for our One Book One Community read this week. The novel we chose to read is Martin’s A Life Intercepted, the story of football darling Matthew “The Rocket” Rising, who is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison.

Martin’s story isn’t really about football, although there is a lot of football in the book. The story is, ultimately, about forgiveness. Something we all have to work on in our lives, if we ever hope to be a better people. I admit I’m struggling a lot with the issue of forgiveness lately.

Well, not even lately. I struggle with it all the time. Or maybe I don’t struggle with it at all and that’s the problem.

Anyway, there has been a lot of talk about football and sports and leadership and disappointment and shaping young people’s lives and how hard it is to live out forgiveness.

Now there is news of a kid in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (a town where I have spent a great deal of time) who beat his football coach to a pulp because the kid claimed the coach “disrespected” him.

For the love of all things holy.

The coach, Ron Aydelott, suffered serious facial injuries and will have to undergo surgery. He was transported to Vanderbilt Hospital in nearby Nashville. Aydelott has been a coach at Riverdale High School for the past 10 years.

The unnamed student (minor at 17) had not been on the football team in the past, but was in the coach’s office to turn in paperwork with the hopes of making the team. Some verbal exchange happened between the coach and kid, the kid felt “disrespected” and began to whale on the coach.

The student reportedly had not been a problem prior to the attack.

He just went bonkers.

Just like that.

And everyone else is left to wonder, what in the world is the matter with people today?

I don’t have any answers for you. Well, maybe I do, but spouting them just makes me feel old, so I’ll refrain. Besides, you are probably thinking some of the same thoughts as me anyway.

It is so odd, though, to think when Tim began his teaching career, I never worried about my husband going to school. It seemed the safest place in the world to me.

That is no longer the case.

I worry as much as I would if he were in law enforcement.

And, okay, I’ll make this one observation: I think that a large part of what we are seeing is the result of a culture that taught people, “Just do it.” Whatever it is. Act on your emotions, go with your gut. 

No need to employ your brain, or act reasonable.

We traded reason for emotion, not realizing they could abide in concert within us if only we’d discipline ourselves better. Not let ourselves become enslaved to either emotion or reason. 




If you are in the area, join us at Eastern Oregon Higher Education Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday (tonight) to hear Charles Martin. Armchair Books will be on hand selling copies of Martin’s work. This event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by Altrusa International of Hermiston and Hermiston’s Altrusa Literacy Committee.

For more information on Charles Martin, check out his website at

For more information on Altrusa International of Hermiston, check out




Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.



about 7 years ago

A bunch of years ago when Nike Sportswear was at the height of its "Just Do It" advertising campaign, our daughter was a young teenager. TV ads featured some very aggressive posturing and angry scowls from some of their contracted shills such as Andre Agassi and Charles Barkley. At the time Barkley was known for his temper tantrums on and off the basketball court. Agassi didn't seem like the kind of guy I'd want my kid attracted to. I was concerned about the effect of all that advertising on our daughter and especially on all the young men out there who might associate with her--and any other female or child, for that matter. I wrote to Nike expressing my concern. Surprisingly, I received a lengthy reply from one of the giant's marketing managers explaining that Nike was out to sell products, not to influence behavior. I wrote back reminding Nike that they were attempting to outsell the competition PRECISELY BY influencing thinking and behavior. I added that while "Just Do It" might work to sell their overpriced imported products, that attitude did not work in the family, the classroom, in a marriage, in church, among friends or in traffic on the highway. I made it personal by suggesting that the Nike ad guy think about whether his household, or the households of his kids' friends, could operate on the "Just Do It" standard. I never heard back, but it wasn't very long after that Nike began running TV ads featuring, of all people, Charles Barkley speaking the unbelievable words, "I'm not a role model." I've never thought that my letters alone turned the tide. I hoped that many people had the reaction I did as a parent. I also think we underestimate how much of our life is influenced by advertising today--and how much we might change those messages if we simply spoke up. Surprisingly, I received


Karen Spears Zacharias

about 7 years ago

Amazed the guy wrote back to you, especially with that response. Good for you for speaking out, Roger. We never know the power of a word well-spoken.



about 7 years ago

There was another time many years ago when I called the manager of a local radio station that carried the Mark and Brian Show in the mornings. I was subjected to their bathroom humor and constant sexual titillation from a co-worker's radio that I had no control over. I observed a very calculated approach with these guys as they yukked it up on air. They would push it just as far as they thought they could before listeners would turn off the radio--and then they would change the topic. Over time, that tactic would simply numb the listener, I think. The station manager agreed that M&B regularly pushed the limits of decency, that I should just turn it off if I didn't like it. He did that at home if something was on TV that wasn't acceptable for his kids. I told him I didn't have that option at work without causing a big blowup with a co-worker who didn't take such requests very well. I put it to the Manager like this. While he could control what went on in his own home, his station's program was shaping and coarsening the world his children were growing into and his responsibility to them did not stop at his front door. "I understand you are accountable to your owners to run a profitable radio station," I said. "But you are also responsible to your children and other people's children for shaping the society we raise them in. When you go home today, think about which is the higher responsibility. Thank you." That's where I left it with the station mgr. Then I went to the manager of my company and informed her of a decision I had reached. I declared my personal work space to be a Mark and Brian free zone. If they were on the radio, I could not work in that part of the shop until they were off the air. She had no idea about the program but after listening herself, she simply banned radios from the shop. I told her I hadn't asked for that. She said, "I know, but after listening to the program and the noise level in the shop, I decided we didn't need any more noise. It will be better for everyone this way." Her call. How we ask matters. What we value and take responsibility for matters. I've always wondered what the station mgr. took away from our conversation. I'm glad we had it.


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