We’ve seen a lot of offensive hand gestures made at OU-Texas football games over the years.
That’s why it’s hard to imagine why the Big 12 overlords have their Pecksniffian standards so sharply attuned to the potential for players making the “Horns Down” sign at Saturday’s game.
Horns down, of course, is the opposite of the ubiquitous University of Texas rally sign, “Hook ’Em Horns,” which Longhorn players have used in their on-field celebrations for decades. Extend your index finger and pinkie toward the sky with the inner fingers folded to the palm, and you’re just celebrating the burnt orange tradition. But if a player does the same thing pointed toward the ground, they’re looking at a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.
A Big 12 officiating crew pointed the finger of scorn at the West Virginia team twice last week for exactly that infraction.
Does anyone see a double standard at work here? Texas taunts? All in the spirit of the game. Taunt Texas? Get flagged.
At any rate, University of Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley has made it clear to the media that his players aren’t going down that path in Saturday’s annual Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The players are going to keep their hands’ thoughts to themselves, Riley said. Save the gestures for some time after the fourth quarter.
The fans, of course, can speak up with their fingers any way they want, and probably will with even greater enthusiasm than usual because of the Big 12’s phalangeal gag order on the players.
More than any other sport, football is a tribal game. Two sides literally collide with enormous ferocity in a controlled metaphor for war. Add regional rivalry to that and you’ve really got a scrap on your hands.
But be careful how you use your hands, lest you be unsportsmanlike.