Why even talk about sports? Forget what I said before - who knows? But it is true that each event can be a drama with actors and subplots, displays of artistry, excellence and incompetence, an element of luck and an unknown conclusion, all contained within the larger plot of the "season" and beyond. At its best, like art.
Moreover, the fact that it's "only a game" where the results are ultimately unimportant allows us to work on profound human issues such as fairness, honesty, teamwork and the importance - or not - of "living by the rules". Of course, when fans (fanatics) riot at soccer games or yell obscenities at referees and opposing players at high school games, that says something, too.
Sports rooting interests
New York Giants (Y.A. Tittle - Fran Tarkenton - Phil Simms - Kerry Collins and LT)
Penn State football since Franco Harris was the "blocking back" for Lydell Mitchell
New York Knicks (you used to be able to move down from the
cheap seats at halftime. Now you can, once again.)
I am forever spoiled by the '69 Knicks definition of team basketball. (talk about living in the past!)
Penn State basketball (die-hard fans have been waiting a long time) Remember Ron Brown?
New York Yankees Several years ago I came to the most astonishing of revelations. It occurred to
me that I ought to be a Mets fan - the Yankees being the team
of the establishment and all that. My allegiance to the Yankees is an
accident of birth; I became a fan in the summer of '61 - too late for
the Dodgers, too soon for the Mets, and when the Yanks had one of the
great teams of all time. (My generation paid its dues, however. It was not easy being a Yankee fan between 1965 and 1975.) For awhile I despised Steinbrenner for his mistreatment of Dave
Winfield and Yogi Berra, and I remain uncomfortable with the basic
inequality of the game. So I rarely watch actual games until the playoffs- except at
Camden Yards, when my sister can get tickets .
New York Jets/New York Mets (by living in Pennsylvania I have the
luxury of rooting for multiple teams). I also have a certain affection
for the Steelers, having been influenced by a college roommate.
I think it is interesting to compare how football
is run at the professional and collegiate level. Clearly college
football is run by morons.
But there are a couple of rule changes I would like to see in pro football:
|Value of regular season games.
||Each game counts - you need at least a 9-7 record, and
probably 10-6 to make the playoffs - but no single loss ruins your season.
||One loss, or even a failure to run up the score
enough, can do you in. The polls are more important than what happens on
||Down by contact
||Slip on the grass and the play is over. Pass interference in the end zone is merely a first down.
||Sudden-death overtime; is there anything more perfect?
||What committee came up with this idea? ..worse
than penalty kicks in soccer.
||The draft and revenue-sharing give every team a fair chance.
||In what other sport does a team get a head-start by being VOTED #1 in the pre-season polls?
||12 out of 31 teams make the play-offs; each has a chance
to make the Superbowl. Teams with better records have an advantage, but
not too much. This is just about right.
||2 out of 125 teams make the "playoffs". Another 30 or
so teams play an exhibition game. This is lunacy.
Oh, and guaranteed contracts.
- Offensive holding should be reduced to a five-yard penalty - the
punishment should fit the crime. As it is, a holding penalty invariably
kills a drive, when more often than not, the hold is 10 yards away from the
- Make "half-the-distance" penalties the same for both offense
and defense. (Or perhaps, "double the distance"- a motion penalty at the 2-yard line is a 2-yard penalty.) Why should the penalty for defensive offsides on the
goal-line only be a foot, when illegal procedure costs five yards (and
usually 4 points)?
Why is the "horn" at basketball games so loud? Is that level
of volume necessary just to announce that a new player has entered the
History repeats, sadly
For Knicks' fans, this was way too familiar. 10 years ago the Knicks had a shot at a championship stolen from them when Ewing, Houston and Starks were suspended for taking one step off the bench after the Heat's P.J. Brown had deliberatly flipped Charlie Ward on his head. Due to a similar excrutiating lack of judgement by league officials, nearly identical cirumstances produced nearly identical results in the Sun's recent loss to the Spurs.
It is beyond ironic that in a league that varies the application of its own rules according to whether it's the first quarter or the fourth, the home team or the visitors, the star player or the 6th man, that once every ten years the commissioner of the league feels constrained to live according to the "letter of the law"!
This is yet another example of a "zero-tolerance" policy; such policies are an expression of a fundemental belief that sound judgement is impossible, and common-sense non-existent. If this belief is true, we are all doomed. What is this, the NCAA?
April 6, 2007:
The baseball Gods
It's early April, and again the baseball gods are angry - snow squalls on opening day at Yankee Stadium (or maybe it's just typical weather for this time of year). In any event, a sport that is supposed to be played in the summer will begin and end with fans shivering in the stands.
Why? Who decided that we needed 162 games Ė especially since we now have as many as 19 post-season games? (Until the expansion in the 60s, it was 154 games and only the World Series in October.) Why do the Yanks and the Sox need to play 19 times in the regular season alone? Because they can sell the seats. Gordon Gecco was wrong - greed is not good.
On a similar subject: one of the best things ever to happen to the NBA was the year the strike shortened the regular season to 50 games Ė just about right, in my opinion.