Thinking About Running Back

An artist draws when she puts pen to paper. Any line—the first one, the next one, any one—becomes a part of the scene. That line may have begun as calestenics for the wrist and fingers or it may have been deliberate, but the artist incorporates it in the end. Even when they don’t include the first line, they sketch around it reducing it’s impact and rendering inconsequential. Each stroke and overstroke, each tick and bend, each smudge and erasure contributes.

A writer must edit their lines. They must excise false starts. They must hide away their practice. Even from themselves.

And then they must talk out of their asses.

Over the weekend I heard a bit of a pre-game radio show. The hosts interviewed a college football player who’d injured his ankle and stayed out of a couple of game. The young man attributed his return to hard work, prayer, and the influence of God on his doctors. He said that God spoke to the people involved in his recovery. God told them how best to care for him in order to get him back on the field. The player considered what a life without football might mean to him, but not seriously because he had faith God would restore his ankle. Today he would play!

I guess I’m cynical.

I think we’ve all heard this story in one form or another. This version avoided the he’ll-never-walk-again cliché, in fact, it’s brief freshness derived from it’s understatement, but I had no doubt of the outcome and not much real interest along the way.

I guess I’m cynical.

I’m glad his story is common enough that he’ll never recognize what I’ve made of it. Or, maybe I’m glad his story is common enough that the story I have made of it will resonate with many players and fans. (Please note, I’ve not made a story. I’ve only so far had an idea I’ve not fleshed out). I wrote the logline in the shower or the rest of the drive home.

A skilled and savvy Oklahoma football player pretends to be a Christian to garner favor with fans and friends until he meets a coach who sees right through him…and doesn’t care.

A nice challenge I’ve thrown myself here since I barely know anything about either. Or at least I know what anyone might know from being on the outside of both. I know plenty well what being Christian is, but I don’t have the appropriate appreciation for it I’d need to write this story well. I don’t know what it means to proselytize or to blame all my successes on God. I don’t see how this story could be good without a better understanding of football than I hold right now. For me football is still a little like playing the slots; hiking the ball is like jacking the lever.

I like the several juxtapositions. I think he’d have to know more about Christianity to fake it than he would to be it. He’d need a reason to fall out with religion which would look like the reason he fell in. He’d have to have a stage to play on but look humble going about it. He have to feel contempt for the marks (fans, friends, fellow—but not fake—Christians) yet come off as genuine. Then he’d need a compelling reason to turn it all around personally. The story fails if he doesn’t face his sham publicly. Get denounced and never regain his credibility. Or only regain it through hard fought battle.

599 words on day 577