In January 1983, my favorite sports team, the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League, made it to their third straight NFC championship game. They’d lost their previous two.
This game was January 22, Sabbath morning. As a Seventh-Day Adventist, I was prevented from following the action live. My parents would never have sanctioned it.
That morning, my family went to this Sabbath-keeping Baptist church in Sacramento. At intermission in the service, I told my mother that I had left something in the car and could I borrow the keys.
She gave them to me. I went to the car, put the keys in the ignition, turned on the radio (a sin in my home on the Sabbath) and found out the Cowboys were getting thrashed. They were losing 14-3. Their quarterback Danny White had been knocked out of the game.
When I tried to remove the keys from the ignition, they wouldn’t budge, no matter how much I jangled.
Frightened of being caught in my sin, I went back to the church and told my mother that I had put the keys in the ignition while looking for my book and now I couldn’t get them out. She said I just had to press a button and they’d release.
I don’t think she realized I had been listening to the radio.
After the Sabbath, I turned on the TV as we ate our evening meal and found out to my heartbreak that the Cowboys had lost. After catching the highlights of the game, I kept turning to other channels throughout the evening to watch the highlights again and again. This made no sense to my parents. They protested. I was wasting time.
No non-sports fan could conceive of how much I hurt that day. Three NFC championship games in a row for quarterback Danny White and three straight losses. I felt gutted.
Six years later at UCLA, economics professor Russell Roberts told our class that “what is important to you is peripheral to others.”
After January 22, 1983, the Cowboys did not play in another NFC championship game until January 17, 1993.