Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Football: Like Rain on your Wedding Day...

San Francisco gets to enjoy the hullabaloo of being a National Champion city, with the Giants winning the World Series. Something they've not done since the last time the 49er's won the Super Bowl. I loved the status message that one of my friends posted, who lives in the area, that the city of cupcake and wine shops proves it can be one step away from being Detroit (who has problems with crowd control whenever the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup.) I thought it funny. Anyway...

It's the irony of sports that caught my attention, especially those involving Football, although it can be other sports as well. Take for instance, a couple of years ago when the Celtics won the NBA Title Game. Earlier that playoff season (and it's amazing that their playoff season can last almost as long as the season itself), the Celtics were taken down to the wire by the Atlanta Hawks, who were finally defeated in Game 7. But to us, it was good that the Celtics won the Title that year because the Hawks had been much more competitive than the Lakers had, who they beat in 6 games. It's not so much losing in the playoffs that hurts, but rather who you lost too. The Braves this year feel better having been beaten by the Giants, who won the World Series, than the Yankees, who were beaten by the Rangers. Course, there's always more complexities when we talk about the Yankees in baseball than almost any other team.

And this is true in almost every sport, except, and this is noticeable, in College Football, where there is no playoff system, but rather an opinionated ranking system where, usually, someone is left out, and angry. And that's okay. When talking about sporting events, there is nothing that will bring up such ire and support as the current Bowl system for College Football. The BCS. Even just saying the name will evoke visceral responses from people. Whole books have been written on the subject. And yet it still brings the excitement of watching every football game on TV every Saturday (and now most weekdays) until the end of the season. The reasonings, I found, are most interesting.

In a Playoff system, while each game played effects the win-loss record of the team, the games themselves, while entertaining, aren't really all that important. Why should I care if the Kansas Basketball gets beaten by Po Dunk U at the beginning of the season. They're still going to get to the Tournament, and more than likely get to the Final 4. But if Kansas gets beaten by, say, South Dakota State, in Football... that's it. It's done. Over. See ya later! Every game is extremely important to the overall postseason hopes of the school. Especially when it comes to the BCS and the National Championship. You've heard this all before, I know. But all this importance on each and every game has much more impact on the mighty dollar than perhaps any other sport.

Take, for instance, the much talked about match up between Boise State and Virginia Tech early this season. I could have cared less, having come from Oklahoma (well, now, I'm actually biased, since Oklahoma got killed by Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl some years ago...), the game really didn't matter that much to me, or wouldn't have, if the NCAA FBS system were playoff based. The actual importance of that game made the whole country watch. Virginia Tech fans sprouted up all over the country, because there were a great many schools across the nation that wanted to see Boise State lose. It didn't happen. But what happened the next week was just as satisfying, but in a totally different scenario. The next Saturday, VaTech played FCS (1-AA) team James Madison. And lost!! That did as much to hurt Boise state in the rankings as a loss the week before. A game that would make no difference to anyone normally suddenly became the talk of the sports world, all because there are no playoffs in college football.

So there is a monetary benefit to everyone by not having playoffs in college football, but rather this totally opinionated, totally biased method of picking teams. And the other sports have something similar, something to make us all watch every single game and be enthralled by the physical acts of the players. Fantasy Football. My brother is quite good in his fantasy football games, and it makes him watch games he wouldn't normally just to see how his players perform on the field. This is why fantasy football is such a ginormous business, with hundreds of magazines, TV shows, websites...etc... all covering this cyber-based past time. As for me, myself, I would rather just watch the games for what they are, to see the performances of athletes at the peak of human endurance and fitness. And to see the violence, the brutal clashing of players as their anger, and ours along with it, is transferred from padding to padding. They are our gladiators, our Roman Adonises (that, coincidentally, are either built like an Adonis or just the opposite, fat walls of meat that protects the ball.), our heroes in a battle (war metaphor again) in which there is no death, but maybe some injuries, but that's it. And I'll watch every game I can, and prepare for the days of spring when we must wait for months until the great game of Football, and the controversy, will begin again.

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