Weighty issue as 2006 begins 

I didn’t bother with New Year’s resolutions about returning to the gym or cutting back on the food I like, because March soon rolls around and nothing’s changed. But the time eventually comes in every overweight man’s life that he realizes the pounds aren’t going to magically fall off and he must change his ways. Maybe the doctor tells him, maybe his wife tells him, maybe his governor tells him. Their message is the same: shed some fat.

My pants sent me the message Monday night at Jack Stephens Arena.

With about 10 minutes left in the hotly contested second half between the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans and Arkansas State University Indians, I was standing at the Dove ice cream bar stand when a friend noted, “Jim, the back of your jeans are ripped wide open.”

It did seem a little drafty. There was a tear from just above the left back pocket, right down the seam line, to the leg. I was fortunate to have worn clean underwear.

When this rip actually occurred Monday is anybody’s guess. I seem to remember thinking in the morning I had briefly sat on something rough as I jumped in my Jeep, but I didn’t check for any tear. You’d think in 55-degrees-and-dropping weather Monday, I’d have noticed.

Nobody at Iriana’s Pizza said anything at lunch. They just fed me an Italian grinder and chips. No one else mentioned the breached britches the rest of the day.

But, there it was, a full tear. With a Cherry Garcia bar in one hand, I positioned my extra-long shirt to cover the void and joined everyone else in watching the exciting finish. ASU ended UALR’s brief unbeaten-in-the-arena streak, 74-70, shooting lights out in the second half. And whatever these teams do to practice foul shots, Stan Heath at the University of Arkansas should take note.

On the steps leading into Stephens Center before the game, a group of folks held up signs, most of them reading, “Stop racism.” Sorry, not trying to be insensitive here, but I had to think a moment just what racism they might be referring to. Were fans being segregated by color, a la the new movie “Glory Road” about Texas Western’s 1966 national championship team?

Of course, it was all about the ASU “Indians” mascot name, this protest held for all the 50 fans who arrived to support ASU and the busload of players and coaches who traveled from Jonesboro.

How sad for us it will be to see the name of our beloved Washington Redskins eventually changed by the PCers, but it’s probably the least the Nation’s Capital could do after what criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff did to those Indian tribes, ripping them off for millions of dollars.

It’s fascinating seeing the power of the beer at a sporting event. Once again, as the national anthem was sung in Stephens Center, the line was already long and slow-moving for beer-lovers getting their 12-ounce cup of brew.

I’m not sure if I’ve gotten the point of beer sales there. UALR played for six years at Alltel Arena, where even mixed drinks were available, and I guess somebody decided it was necessary to at least carry over the beer availability, though you can’t get a beer in any other college arena in the state (most of them are in dry counties). I tried a beer simply for investigative sake at the grand opening game against Navy in November, but the gray plastic cup had an odd smell to it, the beer was domestic light, and it was soon kicked over under my seat only half consumed. I liked the All-tel setup better, where 24-ounce Fosters or Heineken’s are readily available.

Somebody recently complained on a Razorback message board about his experience at the Arkansas-Rice game in December, and about how some drunk made his group’s night miserable. We brought the note to the attention of arena GM Michael Marion, who got in touch with the of-fended fan. He said that in six years, the complaints about beer sales at basketball games numbered one, but he made good with that fan anyway. But Alltel isn’t going to stop selling beer over one bad experience.

Anyway, beer is loaded in calories, leading to more fat that has nowhere else to go but my rear, now that my belly has the “it’s due any day” look; so beer’s going to be off my 2006 event consumption list. So will Dove bars and Cherry Garcia bars, at least after Monday. So will hot-dogs, though the UALR dogs aren’t bad at all. The chicken strips are excellent and cheap. Diet Pepsi is awful; I’m sticking with the real stuff. Pepsi is the soda of choice at the Stephens Center.

And, temporarily, I’ll be wearing new jeans a size larger than what I’ve been used to.



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