Dé Sathairn, Nollaig 20, 2008

The Week In Sports

It's bowl season. The time of year when denizens of America's heartland turn to football to distract ourselves from slashing our wrists with shards of ice; warm blood melting the snow symbolizing our sweet release from this Arctic Hellscape.
The New Mexico Bowl is on now; Colorado State and Fresno State. I watch because oxygen is frozen and I am unemployed; what's your excuse?

I've long been in favor of an eight-team playoff for the national championship. This would have the practical effect of limiting contestants to major-conference champions and mid-major undefeateds, thus preserving the primacy of the regular season. But as I watch the television camera scan the exotic vistas of Albuquerque, I realize that a sixteen-team tournament wouldn't be so bad. The New Mexico Bowl, the Independence Bowl, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, the Motor City Bowl,(Yes, that's right. The Mid-American champion is rewarded with a free ticket to Detroit.) the Humanitarian Bowl, (Welfare Bowl would have been too obvious) would all go bankrupt overnight, and this would be a very good thing.

Yet many people who coach or are otherwise intimately involved with college football, such as Graham Harell's dad, strenuously defend the traditional clusterfuck of bowls.
The argument basically states that in a playoff, every team save for one is doomed to lose their final game, leaving teams that had outstanding seasons traumatized at the end; while in the bowl system, thirty four teams win their final games and feel at peace with themselves and the universe.

This is a very strange argument; coming as it does from the same sort of people who go ballistic if they hear about a children's soccer league somewhere that isn't keeping score. And at any rate it's wrong. The sting that comes from losing the national championship game may carry somewhat of an extra sting than a loss in the middle of the season; but surely Florida, the eventual loser of this game, can eventually take solace in the fact that they are indisputably better than the winner between Northern Illinois and Louisiana Tech. Which middle-aged college football veteran will feel better about his playing days as he berates his teenage sons; the winner of the Boise Bowl, or the loser of the Rose Bowl? Does the Nebraska volleyball team feel worse about themselves right now than the Texas A&M Lady Aggies, who upended Missouri in its final match to improve to 16-14?

In other gridiron business; Tecmo Bo Jackson is widely considered to be the greatest video football drone of all time, but I personally would take Tecmo Jerry Rice over Jackson any day of the week. While Tecmo Jackson's ability to run at fifty eight miles an hour is most impressive, Tecmo Rice clocks in at a not-too-shaby forty five, and what really sets him apart is his ability to teleport the football through the body of any cornerback that does manage to cover him. Tecmo Jackson is utterly helpless against the magical superblitz that comes when an opponent correctly guesses
the play on defense, while Tecmo Rice is a reliable hot receiver in the same situation. When it's fourth and thirty eight, and my lead is in danger of falling to six touchdowns, I know what pixelated ubermensch I want on my side.

If you are playing "NFL Blitz" on arcade, do whatever you possibly can to get touchdowns instead of field goals. The computer offense will always score on its last possession of the game, no matter what you do. This is designed to frustrate you with a close loss and induce you to choke up another four dollars in quarters. So you need to make sure that you're ahead by at least two scores going into the fourth.
You've probably noticed this long ago, and I don't mean to insult your intelligence. Mostly I wrote this note so I can recite what to say to my own son when his day to blitz comes upon him. The Bitch Goddess shall not deceive two generations of Beran.

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