It’s hard being a sports fan. Damn hard.
Sometimes I wish I could stop, turn off the TV, take a long walk, and ignore the plights of all my favorite teams.
No. That’s not even a little bit true. I never wish that.
I’m a diehard Chicago fan (except for the Sox…hate those guys.) I bleed Cubbie Blue, live and die by the health of Derrick Rose’s knee, love and hate Jay Cutler, and boil with pride for the Blackhawks. But whatever team you like, whatever city you’re from, odds are you know how hard it is. To watch someone else’s team carve deep into the postseason, to endure your hated rivals hoisting a trophy, to be excited at kickoff…and completely gutted by the middle of the third quarter. It sucks something awful. We’ve all been there.
Such is a sports fan’s life.
So let’s start by talking about football. My personal favorite, the NFL. Violent. Barbaric. Crueler on its players than any other game. Gloriously inglorious. Perfect and imperfect.
I love it.
Over the last few years, I’ve heard, read, and endured hundreds of reports and sound bites regarding the health of the NFL’s players. About concussions, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy,) ragged knees, spinal injuries, and retirements ruined by pain. About how someday it’ll all come crashing down. I’ve followed Peter King’s columns, SI.com, and the metric ton of non-news news ESPN heaps upon us every day.
‘Wear better helmets,’ some cry out.
‘Too violent!‘ claim others.
‘They knew what they were getting into! Look at how much money they get paid!‘ many fans will declare.
Ultimately, who really cares? Not me. And statistically speaking, not you either. NFL ratings are higher than ever in the history of the game. If any of us are really all that bothered by a game played by wife-beaters, drunk-drivers, and future invalids, it really doesn’t show up on Sunday (Or Saturday, Monday, and Thursday.) This being the case, we should all stand up and ask sports reporters around the USA to let it go. Let’s talk about the game and only the game. Let’s let the drama die. Scrutinize any cross-section of Americans and you’ll find out all sorts of awful details you didn’t want to know. The NFL is no different. If it dies one day due to its violent legacy, so be it. But until then, most of us have proven we still love it when someone gets de-cleated on the gridiron. Especially if it’s Aaron Rodgers…
Ok baseball, you’re up next. I’m here to say that I love you. Your purity, your pace, your elegance.
But you’re really getting on my nerves.
I want to talk about a number. The number is 162. The amount of games each team plays (not including Grapefruit/Cactus League games.) Used to be I loved that on any given day from April-September I could turn on the boob-tube and watch the Cubs get crushed. Used to be I craved the feeling that the season would never end.
Not any more. 162 is just too many damn games. By a long shot.
Would it be blasphemy to say that the average MLB game doesn’t mean a f’n thing? Is it weird that even the most spectacular win or heartbreaking loss only amounts to 0.61% of each season? What if I told you that if each team played two three-game home-and-away series’ with every other team in their half of the league, the season could be a brisk, snappy 84 games long? Does it really take 162 to decide which teams aren’t even the best, but simply worthy of entering a three-round tournament that could take up to 19 more games to find a winner? No. It doesn’t.
Why are NFL and College Football games so damn thrilling? Because each one can make or break a season. Lose one NFL game and that’s 6.25% of your season. Lose a college football game and that’s 8%. Gone. Done. Untouchable. My plea to the MLB is to chop the season in half. Please. Run two 82-game seasons every year if you have to. Have a World Series in July and another in October. But for the love of god, don’t make me watch Cubs baseball (games 108-162) in August and September. We’re already 17 games out. What’s the fucking point?
End baseball rant. Truth is; I’m really enjoying the postseason. The one-game Wild Card playoffs are kinda sorta what inspired my shorter season hopes. And how about that Royals v A’s game?? Needed new underwear after that one.
Ok. So lets talk about the upcoming NBA season. Anyone? Ugh. Never mind.
What about hockey? Are Patrick Kane and the boys gonna dig deep and make another Cup run? Or will it be the Kings? The Bruins? Hello? Anyone listening? Oh, that’s right. I live in Georgia, home of exactly seventeen NHL hockey fans.
Good sports things going on right now:
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Alex Smith, Steve Smith Sr., Alshon Jeffrey, Antone Smith, Eric Hosmer, The f’n Orioles, Derrick Rose’s knee (for now,) the Yellow Jackets, Notre Dame, the Gators sucking, Jeter’s final at bat.
Bad sports things going on right now:
Wife/GF beaters (don’t even deserve mentions,) UGA Football, Oregon Football, everything happening in Jacksonville, FL, the Texas Rangers, the Chicago Bears defense, almost every NFL team’s defense, Geno Smith, sideline reporting, NFL halftime shows, beer commercials, car commercials, mutha f’n GEICO commercials, the Cardinals being in the NLCS, the Packers being in first place, and Lebron getting traded to another team in the same goddamn division as the Bulls.
That’s it for now. Go buy this and this.
J Edward Neill