Many of us have often pondered what we would do if we “Ruled the World”.
No, not necessarily the world, but the world of sports.
When faced with this notion, several inclinations are already flooding your mind. For instance, many would like to rid baseball of the designated hitter, while others would love to force Mayweather and Pacquiao to finally just get it over with and beat the living bejesus out of one another. Still, many would contend that they would no longer allow Skip Bayless anywhere near either a microphone or a camera nor would they allow—at any given time—for there to be an option on an arbitrary Monday through Friday between hockey and…well, hockey.
While I am certain there are many other provocative insights of the most intrepid of sports fans, this is my shot to the rule the world—at least for the sake of this weekly column.
If I Ruled the World…
The Detroit Lions Would Win the Super Bowl…
I am being absolutely, unequivocally serious about this. This may not seem like much of a shock at first glance. One’s initial thought probably gravitates toward the belief that I am Lions fan.
Well, I am not.
I did, however, get to see the Lions in action last weekend as they completely whitewashed my Denver Broncos by a score that does not need to be repeated. So, with that in mind, why would I allow the Lions to win the Super Bowl if I ruled the world?
It is actually quite simple.
The Detroit Lions are the NFL version of the Chicago Cubs. Now, I do not want to offend the exercise in futility that is being a Cubs fan, but aside from a few championships in the late 50’s and early 60’s the Lions have won…nothing. Even the Buccaneers, whom the Lions replaced as the most futile team, have won a Super Bowl. Yet, the Lions have done nothing aside from a few playoff victories in 60 years.
Although they were fortunate enough to go 0-16 a few years ago.
Which leads me to the second reason why I would choose the Lions: their true fans.
As I was sitting at the game last weekend, I was mesmerized by the amount of fans that came clamoring about to cheer their Lions to victory. Granted, the number of people attending who were also rocking Megatron jerseys a couple of years ago is debatable, but the premise is still the same. I have a buddy who is one of those fans. Every week when the Lions lost, he would have to deal with so much nonsense for being a Lions fan. Yet, every week, he still dawned his Lions hat and jersey and paid the $350 for the Sunday Ticket so that he could watch his team get massacred every weekend.
Except this year.
There were some asinine Broncos fans at the game on Sunday who were appalled by the demeanor of these Lions fans as they witnessed—some for the first time in decades—their team actually destroy someone else’s team. As I observed this, I thought to myself, “How would I react if the Broncos had never won a Super Bowl? How would I react if they went 0-16 and then somehow, almost magically, righted the ship and were now…a winner?”
Truth be told, I would probably run naked down the street in the blistering cold. That is how much it all means. That is what being a football fan is all about.
College Athletes Would Get Paid
The premise of this thought comes about after several publications reported that universities would be adding $2,000 to scholarships for student athletes. My opinion on this matter is it’s about time.
Over the past year or so, college football has been inundated with scandal, suspension and the apparent destruction of two once highly touted programs in the University of Miami and Ohio State University. While in college, pro receivers such as Dez Bryant and A.J. Green were both suspended for their recalcitrance, which was unduly deemed as contradictory to the convoluted standards set forth by the NCAA.
In every case, the polemic in the majority of the cases could have easily been averted if student athletes were compensated in some way. The same could be said for Reggie Bush, Cam Newton, and Maurice Clarett. Although to some student athletes who come from affluent backgrounds, this type of stipend is irrelevant. Conversely, when you consider that most student athletes are not blessed with this same upbringing, it would make a world of difference.
Nonetheless, the mire of hypocrisy, and false altruism fallaciously established by the NCAA led everyone to believe that it was wrong for student athletes to receive compensation. They are amateur athletes.
Yet, that does not stop the competitive universities—primarily in football—from being compensated for the work done by athletes such as Green and Bryant. When Bryant Gumble spoke out a couple of weeks ago with his noxious description of NBA Commissioner David Stern—equating him to a slave driver and the NBA to “modern day slavery”—I dismissed his comments as vacuous rhetoric.
However, if he really wanted to make a point, he would look at the money that universities are literally making on the backs of these young men; he may be able to make a stronger case. At least the NBA players are paid. The argument can be made that the players at the more prestigious schools will get a shot at the NFL—though how often does that really happen.
In its essence, $2000 is still an insult in comparison to the millions of dollars a university brings home for winning a mere BCS bowl game; or the money EASports makes off of their college football games that use the student athletes’ “likeness”.
But at least it’s a start.
I Would Rid the World of the BCS
I recognize this is daringly unoriginal and oft-argued right around this time of year.
However, with the influx of conference realignments that we have experienced, college football needs to bid adieu to the Bowl Championship Series. First, Colorado and Utah left their respective conferences to join the then Pac 10. Then, Nebraska left the Big 12 to join the Big 10+1+1. These moves at least make geographical sense. As does Texas A & M joining the SEC—regardless of the reasoning behind doing so.
After that, things have begun to wander into the abyss.
Recent reports have Boise State and Air Force joining the Big East and West Virginia migrating to the Big 12 (-3+1).
Why would a school in friggin Idaho, or one in Colorado for that matter, want to travel 3,000 miles every other weekend to play college football road games? For the Academy, the justification is probably more from a financial perspective as is the case for West Virginia. But for Boise State, it is purely predicated upon joining a BCS eligible school.
Instead of ridding the world of the most flawed computer hoax since the Y2K saga, universities are going to capitulate and start moving cross-country to play their games in an effort to coalesce with the outrageous mandates of a computer.
What’s worse is: who needs the computer?
Anyone who has followed college football the last 7 or 8 years can be the greatest prognosticator in sports. It breaks down like this:
An SEC school, always an SEC school, this year will not be any different, will play a team from either the Big 12(-3+1), Pac 10+1+1, or the Big 10+1+1. Rarely an ACC school such as Miami or Florida State will wander in, but recent years have proven this is the famous BCS ranking formula. So, in an effort to combat this—instead of having a playoff—schools are going to join a BCS eligible conference and soon we will have FIVE Super-Conferences with about 20 teams each.
There is a profound lack of acuity in our midst. Primarily because the Athletic Directors from every major powerhouse could simply throw their pocketbooks in the pile, and go for broke. It would be akin to the World Series of Poker on HGH. If these individuals were truly as smart as they would like us to believe, they would realize they would make more money through three or four playoff games then they could via one bowl game.
Obstinately, they will not acquiesce.
Much like the aforementioned problem of paying student athletes, the AD’s hide behind the falsely altruistic notion of “suffering academics”. Which we all know is blatantly capricious. Having student athletes travel 3,000 miles to play in a game does not seem to be indicative of an academic institution that has a penchant for the academic integrity—or welfare—of its students.
Pragmatic thinking went by the wayside the moment the BCS software was created.
Rid of the BCS and you can still have all the bowl games you want. Take the top 16 teams in both the Coaches and AP poll, and have them play in respective playoff games, which are still duly assigned as bowl games. Every team that does not finish in the top 16 will still be “bowl eligible” where applicable and—don’t worry—we will still have the “Meineke-lube-your-car-with-a-Taco-Bell-Burrito Bowl”.
The remaining playoff games will be formatted in a way that is equivalent to the NFL’s divisional round playoffs (i.e. Rose, Sugar, Cotton) and conference championships (i.e. Fiesta, Orange) being played out in the current BCS bowl games. These games will culminate in the rotating (as they do now) of the championship game.
Everyone still gets their money, and student athletes aren’t travelling from Boise, ID to Storrs, CT to play a football game in the middle of November.
I think I just solved the problem.
I Would Make Every Athlete Appreciate What They Have the Way David Freese Does
Sometimes in sports we are fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of why we really love sports. For me, it was going to games with my father, watching John Elway finally win a Super Bowl, or even watching Brandy Chastain score the game winning goal in the World Cup. We all watch sports for that—please excuse the colloquialism—one shining moment.
Last week, we were privy to such a moment.
After a literal see-saw game that saw a plethora of fielding errors and clutch hitting alike, David Freese had helped his team rally to finally get to this moment in extra innings. The “local boy done good” was in the situation that anyone who has ever picked up a bat, football, or basketball—or competed in anything—dreams of when they are young.
He had a chance to win the game.
What ensued was a moment that dreams are made of. Freese tattooed a pitch to deep centerfield.
Walk off home run. Cardinals win.
The momentum provided by Freese carried over into Game 7—the greatest phrase in all of sports—and the Cardinals completed their miracle run, which seemed like a mirage in early September.
Freese was named MVP of the World Series for his hometown team.
In instances like these, it really is not about the money. There really are guys out there who play the game for the game. I recall in watching NFL Network’s production of America’s Game: the 1983 Oakland Raiders where Todd Christiansen, as he recalled being in tears after the Raiders won, remarked, “I realized that this was the dreams of millions, and I was living this dream out…There is but one sin, and that is the sin of ingratitude. I didn’t want to be ungrateful”.
Unfortunately, fans are privy to another insolent display of greed and ungratefulness, brought about by grown men who forget they are playing a boy’s sport. NBA players are forsaking the veritable truth that it is a privilege to play in the NBA.
In light of this, it is nice to see an all-too-infrequent moment where we are reminded why we love sports.
Thanks for crushing that pitch Mr. Freese.
Thank you for renewing this sports fan’s hope.
Daniel Bogaard writes for TheFanManifesto. Follow him on Twitter at @Bogie711.
Follow the FanMan team on twitter at @TheFanManifesto.