Recently I attended a college football game. For many people that is a normal thing to do. For me, it is as rare as having a teenager voluntarily put away the clean dishes.

I’m not a sports fan. The only time I enjoy watching sports is if my kids are playing. If challenged to come up with a favorite sport, I’d have to say it is watching 3-year-olds play soccer. And that has nothing to do with athleticism, stunning game play or keeping score. At that age, the kids are awesome, funny, generally having fun and sometimes snotty.

If you’ve ever watched a soccer ‘game’ between three-year-olds, you know what I mean. They zig zag across the field as one solid clump of legs, flailing arms and bouncing ponytails. Periodically a kid will drop out of the clump and wander off the field for a potty break or because she got distracted by a butterfly. And on a really good day, some excited kid scores a goal — but he usually scores it in the wrong net. For the kids, the highlight of the game is usually the post-game snack. They run faster to grab Doritos than they did while chasing the ball.

My interest in this college football game had much more to do with the company than with the game. My oldest son came home from his freshman year at the University of Texas to accompany his Rice alum parents to the Rice-UT football game.

Mixed football family — Rice and UT

Yes, we are a mixed family — blue and burnt orange. — Rice Owls and University of Texas Longhorns.

Split loyalties can be tough, but choices had to be made. My son supported his team with his UT shirt. My husband split the difference with a UT shirt and a Rice hat. I followed the path of my money and wore a UT shirt.

2019 is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Famously, John F Kennedy made his 1962 speech pledging to go to the moon at the Rice stadium. In that historical speech he said:

“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…”

It is a historic fact that Rice does not stand a chance against UT — even JFK pointed that out.

But Rice continues to take on the hard task, suit up and show up. Being more known for research and academics, Rice is the known underdog and typically gets crushed in Division 1 football. UT players are bigger, faster and focused on professional careers. Rice players are more likely to be daydreaming about Calculus problems. But they try.

During the pre-game events, I had a brief spark of hope. From above, the UT team with their white helmets looked like a squadron of Star Wars stormtroopers.

Everyone knows that stormtroopers can’t hit anything. Hopefully they would play like stormtroopers as well.

Alas, that hope was not to be. UT played well. My son was very gracious as his team squished ours. I guess he knows where his tuition is coming from.

I reverted back to the last-hope wish of any underdog fan — just let my team score something!

I’m pleased to say that Rice showed up and scored. Sometimes, we don’t shoot for the moon, we just want to get on the score board.

For more Level 50 Life, check out:

Level 50 Life: Lurching toward Level 50

Level 50 Life: Hermann the Ram


  • Ann Howell

    Executive Coach

    Howell Leadership Science

    I write about research-supported workplace topics and improving workplaces. I'm also experimenting with humor writing in my Level 50 Life series. Be warned - this is an experiment, and explosions, or at least bad jokes, could occur at any time.