Nick Canepa, the elder of San Diego print journalism sports columnists is an interesting character. In his Union-Tribune column today. He argued eloquently for a sixteen team playoff for the NCAA football championship playoff.
i like Nick’s writing, even though i occasionally don’t agree with him. This column was one on which i don’t agree. In spades.
Playoffs in sports mean nothing. They are as manufactured by the minds and imaginations of experts, trying to make something concrete that is whimsical, fun, even motivational at times. We call it “sport.” This attempt to create “the best” is especially true for this sport turning into a business called football. The pros have lost my interest because it is now more business than sport. College football is tending that way if not already there.
This is not a reaction to my bad day yesterday. i played one of the crappiest rounds of golf i can remember playing. Yes, Mount Woodson is a tough course, but not that tough compared to my game, which was downright awful. Then i came home to watch Vandy lose to Mississippi, San Diego State lose to Boise State, and learn that Middle Tennessee State lost to the University of Alabama, Birmingham. On top of that, the Dodgers beat the Cubs (of course, i’m rooting for the visiting team in each game of this series because i wish neither team was in the playoffs: bad fans). Only the Astros beating the Yankees made this underdog fan feel okay. But such a disastrous day did make me think when i read Canepa’s column this morning.
Each football game stands on its own. For an example in this season, Vanderbilt beat Middle Tennessee, 28-6 (22 point margin), Middle Tennessee beat Syracuse 30-23 (7 point margin), Syracuse beat Clemson 27-24 (3 point margin), and Vanderbilt lost to Alabama 59-0 (59 point margin). By statistics, that means Alabama should beat Clemson, to whom they lost to in last season’s silly four-game championship playoff, by 89 points.
So a national playoff, as with the mythical champions voted on for almost as long as football as been a sport, is exactly that: mythical; it means nothing except appeasement to the hunger of fans who need a champion, regardless of how insane the concept.
i love football. It was a great sport before we kept trying to fix it, on and off the field. We now have a list of penalties long enough to compare to the Obama Health Care plan they rolled out on table after stacked table when it was introduced (and yes, i believe the plan needs to be fixed — everyone should have health care, and i won’t get into the swamp about “affordable” — not jettisoned for political purposes). We have “experts” looking at replays to determine if the field judges made the right decision until Saturday games may extend into the next week. Fans argue, not about who played the best, but what call was blown.
i loved playing the game. Yes, it was dangerous. i knew that, but i was too young to care, and it’s the only sport where i could take out all of my frustrations. i loved to practice as much as i loved the games. i’m glad my grandson is not heading in that direction, but i loved it.
i loved the beauty of the game when it was played by the players; not the coaches calling every play, but the guys on the field calling the plays, calling the timeouts; when it was their game to win or lose; i loved players who played both ways and specialists didn’t exist (like Lou Groza, the Cleveland Browns lineman who kicked field goals and extra points. i loved the back or receiver crossing the goal line and handing the ball to the official, then running back to his sideline where he was patted on the back for a good play, not performing some clownish mime and being swarmed by teammates as if he had just secured victory in World War II. i loved the linebacker laying out the running back with a ferocious hit, then helping the runner back up, patting him on the back, and returning for the next play, not acting like an idiot and showing off, taking one more dig physically at the opponent, and then trash talking (one of the better terms for what they do: trash).
i loved the color, the smell, the feel of a football game in the fall and the fans and the cheerleaders, and the bands. i loved the glory of winning and appreciated the agony of defeat. i loved the traditional rivalries, even if they were one-sided. Texas A&M vs Texas, ahh what beauty in that one. A few remain but now they are fabricated and blown completely out of proportion.
i loved watching games without replay after replay and the incessant, non-stop blather of commentators who never heard of the words “silence is golden” and have more inclination to make their points even when wrong than describing the action on the field. i enjoyed one-minute time outs and fifteen minute half-times. i liked games that ended after an hour and a half.
i still watch football. Occasionally, i will watch an NFL game…if i happen to channel surf through one and stay with it for a series of downs. This is not because of the inane political posturing about standing or kneeling during the anthem (i made my comments in a previous post), but because it’s not a sport anymore. It’s entertainment business out of control because of…get ready for this: M. O. N. E. Y. And we are the ones who are paying.
i try to watch every Vanderbilt and San Diego State game and the ones they show of MTSU out here in the Southwest corner. i will watch an interesting college game anytime.
But spare me the idea we will really know who the best team is by having a playoff. My scoring statistics sort of blows that silliness up in smoke. Clemson beat Alabama last year for the championship. There is a good possibility if they win the rest of their games, last year’s game could be a rematch. If so, i don’t think the Tide will win by 89 points. A game means one team won and one team lost (since they got rid of ties, which is ridiculous and makes the game silly long and brings greater risks to the players). That’s it. For one game. The result could be just the opposite the next game even with mismatches. A championship is illogical in sports.
Bring back the five bowl games: The Cotton, Sugar, Rose, Orange, and Gator) and get rid of the rest of the post-season play.
What kind of crazy are we continuing to seek?
i need a rest.