Art Consultant providing picture framing, old Houston photos, and wall décor for Houston's corporate clients.

Home » Houston Sports Scene

Sports and Culture in Houston

23 March 2010 No Comment

Professional sports in a city the size of Houston is often more than just sports.  It is a way of life as evidenced by the framed sports memorabilia and sports wear that reflects the local sports teams.  It can be an integral part of the city’s culture.  The question is: does the sport affect the culture, or does the culture affect the sport?

The Houston Astros have been part of Houston sports since 1962, when as the Colt 45’s, they made their debut into the National League. Through the early years, the Astros, as they would become, were a wild and crazy bunch of old veterans that truly knew how to party hearty. I remember as a 12 year old avid baseball fan, a particular occasion at the ballpark.  I remarked to my Dad, “Why are the third baseman and shortstop having so much fun, and why do they keep dropping the ball”? It turned out later that they were actually both drunk when they took the field that night.  The press worked hard to keep much of this type of thing under wraps and away from the public.  Certainly the times back then were less tolerant of the behavior.  However, it was done mostly to show well with a culture in Houston that has tended to be more conservative than other big sports cities.

As time went on, the team become younger and new ownership brought in a group of players that were more pranksters and on the edge personalities.  Who can forget the likes of Dave Smith, Charlie Kerfeld,  Jose (Lima Time) Lima,  and Juaquin “where be my head“ Andujar.  They were a little nuts but more embraceable by the fans.

The real love affair with the Astros evolved after Drayton McLane acquired the Astros.  He is, to say the least, a very conservative owner with much attention placed on family values and promoting role models.  If you want evidence of this, just look whose statues are in front of Minute Maid Park.  It is Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, two of the finest role models you will ever hope to find.  The Astros  have literally been promoted throughout baseball as the “Good Guys”.   Many Houston fans, this one included, feel that at times having quality players has been sacrificed for having role models.  The cold, hard truth is that many of the best players in the league borderline on being thugs and criminals.  To win pennants and promote image, you likely have to have both.

The Houston Rockets, our NBA franchise has for a number of years been under the ownership of Les Alexander.  The NBA, by it’s nature has become a haven for overpaid, over tattooed thugs, criminals, drug addicts, and sex offenders.  However in the middle of this, Les Alexander has stepped up and set the Rockets apart from the rest of the league with his insistence of community involvement and promotion of education in the area schools.  The question is, is this really Les Alexander the person or Les Alexander the businessman?

With the controversial exit of the Oilers and subsequent move to Tennessee, Houston was left without a pro football team until the Texans came onto the scene in 2002.  Owner, Bob McNair, brought to Houston a culture of Texas football.  For those unclear as to what this means, IT IS RELIGION !  It is hard to know the difference at church on Sunday morning during football season.  As the minister continues with the morning sermon, fans are beginning to look at their watches.  With some cell phones, fans can now catch the kick off while still sitting in their church pew.  Either way the minister has probably lost many of the members by about 11:30.  Could this be why early services and Saturday night services were started?  Maybe.  Bob McNair has seemingly gotten a grasp on what makes Texan football work and what brings them to the stadium on Sunday.  He also has a clear understanding of the importance of community involvement and role models.

Houstonians have, over the years become known as a population that is friendly, conservative, diverse in race and culture, suburban in growth, and driven by family values.  The question remains.  Does the culture affect pro sports in Houston, or does pro sports affect culture?

Consider this and make no mistake.  Pro Sports is about MONEY!  Although all three owners are first rate people and among the best in terms of community involvement; it is still about the money.  The culture of Houstonians goes back way before the Oilers, Texans, Rockets, Colt 45’s, and the Astros.  Understanding this, ownership knows what sells.  As wealthy and powerful as they are, they play to the city and its core beliefs.  The bottom line demands it and their egos will not accept failure.  So, the next time you see team T-shirts or framed sports memorabilia remember what is behind it all.  MONEY!

Follow this post category for continuing thoughts and opinions about the Houston sports scene. To have your own sports memorabilia framed, click here to visit the TurnKey Art Solutions website.

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.