Built Ford Tough: Are You Tough Enough?

Leman Saunders

Active member
Every week during football season here in Texas, Ford and Fox Sports team up to give out a weekly award for the Player of the Week in every UIL football classification. Well that is except one...you guessed it...1A.

Here is a recent article in the Mineral Wells Index by Russell Huffman trying to shine some light on this:

https://www.mineralwellsindex.com/sport ... ium=social

This is not a new issue. Many have tried in vain to get 1A included in this weekly award. I started trying to push for 1A inclusion feverishly in 2017 only to have it fall upon deaf ears.

Ford has an advisory board made up of Texas Sports Writers that make "nominations" for this weekly award. I did obtain a list of this board back in 2017 and sent out emails to these writers asking why 1A was excluded and if they could push for 1A to be included. I only received one response back from a writer that is located in an area of the state with very little six-man teams. He nicely passed the buck back on to Ford.
*I will note that one of the main advisors was a writer from the Abilene area, who's coverage area has more 1A schools than any other single classification, and he did not bother to reply.

Simply put, if they wanted to have a 1A player they could have one. There is no logical argument for excluding this one UIL classification. You can't argue that the schools are so rural it is hard to get information to make a selection, because there is no real difference in that regard from 1A and 2A schools. So why then single out this one UIL classification and ignore it?

I was left with the feeling that the advisory board has no interest in taking on the extra work involved in picking a 1A player of the week and it is mostly due to the fact that it is 6-man and not 11-man. What else are we left to think? It boils down to two things: Laziness and what I term as 11-man prejudice.

It could be argued that the toughest players on Friday nights are those in the smallest of schools who are playing both sides of the ball, as well as filling roles on special teams, playing virtually every single second of game time. The added irony to all this is that those same kids then will get up early on Saturday to work on rural Texas farms and ranches probably driving a Ford pickup truck.

I'm happy to know in these small schools and communities this has never gone unnoticed, thanks in large part to the hard working sports writers and reporters who DO take the extra time to cover and recognize little ol’ class 1A and 6-man football. Ford and their Built Ford Tough advisory board should be ashamed that they willingly choose not to recognize these rural and small town Texas Friday night heroes. THEY are the ones who aren't tough enough.

Leman Saunders

Active member

It is important to point out Fox Sports is the least to fault here, after all they essentially just announce the awards every week. In fact, Fox Sports has done its fair share of heavy lifting in making strides the past few years to treat 6-man and 1A like all other classifications. Thanks in part to organizations like the UIL, Texas Six-Man Coaches Association, Dave Campbell’s and individuals such as Craig way, Granger Huntress and Greg Tepper, Fox Sports does a great job of talking about 1A games and schools on their Friday night show and last year for the first time reaired the 1A state championship games on television with hopes of airing those games live in the near future if the financial logistics can be worked out. Ultimately this injustice can only be laid at the feet of the Built Ford Tough team and advisory board.