The place:: A University town. Johnny Jock, the school’s quarterback, noticed that all Catholics, as indicated on their admissions application, were required to attend daily mass, that met at 6 a.m. Non-Catholics could sleep in as long as they liked so long as they made their classes on time. Johnny, being a Catholic, objected to this 6 a.m. Mass requirement because it discriminated against Catholics by depriving them the extra sleep afforded the non-Catholics. Though Johnny was not a candidate for one of the Laudes (Cum, Summa or otherwise; in fact his SAT scores were sealed) he was smart enough to investigate the school’s president, that revealed he (the president) was a Protestant.
Armed with this information, Johnny gathered up all his co-footballers and explained to them in very simple terms the sleep discrimination against Catholics. He explained that the school president was a Protestant and did little to make campus life easy for the Catholics. The team was outraged. They painted up little simple signs with their crayons, some very creative, like, “No more fish on Friday.” And, “Jesus slept in, why can’t we?” “Football players need more sleep.” Pretty soon, as it usually develops, a media frenzy broke out and the footballers were well on their way to 15 minutes of fame.
Within days, Catholics from all over country marched on the University; black Catholics, white Catholics, Asian Catholics, you name it Catholics, demanding equal zzzzzzz for the Catholics. The president was in a tough spot and in an effort to nip this kerfuffle in the bud before it became a scene rather akin to the Catholic/Huguenot conflict in Toulouse, France back in the mid 1700’s, he called for a meeting with Johnny and the team. The next day the team, all of them, squeezed into the President’s office chanting, reading scripture, and hollering slogans not heard since the days of Jim Crow or Voltaire.
The president explained that there were 43,445 students at the university and many of them, most of them, were there for a quality education and couldn’t care less how much sleep a “free ride” athlete gets. Taken aback by the notion that football jocks were not the center of the universe, Johnny huddled momentarily with the team. After a brief discussion, Johnny advised that the team was not going to participate in the Saturday foot ball game over in the 100,000-seat coliseum (always a sell-out crowd). Since two-thirds of the players were Catholics (including Johnny, the quarterback), the president realized that the remaining non-Catholic players, even if they broke ranks, could not suit up a complete team. The economic impact began to sink in. The president winced and begged Johnny to reconsider, to please think of the millions of dollars the school would lose without the game, the television network money, the concession revenue, the betting websites, (Oh, the humanity)! Johnny said there could be no compromise.In deafening unison, Johnny Jock’s co-jocks began to scream, “No sleep, no play, hooray, no sleep, no play, hooray.”
Johnny and the team hunkered down, some in a three-point stance, waiting, staring at the president. It was an awkward moment. The president, disheartened and defeated, cleaned out his desk drawer, picked up his statue of the school mascot, and waded through the hulking mass of footballers out into the parking lot. As the president drove off, the crowds gathered outside shouted epithets like, “Football rules.” And they were right.
James Studdard is an attorney and an occasional columnist for this publication and others. Any comments may be sent to him at email@example.com