Friday, December 07, 2012

Sports Friday: 12/7/12

Here's the thing with sports these days: we have choice. A lot of choice. Sports are on television everywhere, virtually all the time. Don't like the sport or game you're watching? Simple - change the channel and watch a different sport/game/fishing show/whatever. Or, instead of spending money on season tickets, spend money on some other form of entertainment. (Curling, for instance.)

But, the interesting thing with sports fandom is that being blindly devoted to your favorite team/sport, rather than exercising your freedom to choose when said team/sport doesn't treat you well, is actually celebrated. As in, "I've stuck with my team/sport through all the tough times, and that makes me a better sports fan than you". Why is that?

The reason I bring this up because, needless to say, the NHL is not treating its fans well right now. When the NHL does eventually make its return, whether it's this season or next, what will probably happen is that markets where hockey is more popular will continue to sell out most or all of their games, while other markets - such as, oh, I don't know, Raleigh - will see a drop in attendance coming off of the lockout. And then, the following narrative will once again surface: "Well, northern cities just have better fans".

Do they?

Or, are Southern fans more willing to choose where they spend their money, and less willing to take it up the you-know-what all the time?

I guess what it's saying is, instead of blaming [insert Southern NHL city here] for not filling their arena for a Tuesday night game against the Islanders, maybe we should be blaming the sport itself for being the most poorly managed in all of major professional sports. If a "real fan" is one who sticks with the team/sport regardless of the quality of the product, and who doesn't hold the team/sport accountable in any way, then that's the last thing I want to be.

NFL - Speaking of teams with a substandard quality of product...how about those Jaguars?! Here's the difference, though. The Jaguars actually are trying; they're just doing a bad job. It's a competitive league, and somebody has to lose, right? I can handle a bad season here and there as long as the ownership is committed. This isn't like when the Chicago Blackhawks owner once said that trying to win a Stanley Cup would be "too expensive". NY Jets at Jacksonville - Sun 1:00p, NFL Sunday Ticket

Here's something I wrote last year: "I really hope the Indianapolis Colts do NOT end up with the worst record in the league. I have waited over a decade for Peyton Manning to go away. The last thing I want is for another highly touted quarterback (Andrew Luck) to step in immediately after Manning leaves." Well, it looks like the Colts are on their way to another 10-year run of sustained success. Great. Just goes to show you, if you're going to suck, make sure you do all of your sucking at once so that you can get a #1 draft pick out of it. (And draft well. That's important too.) #2 draft pick Robert Griffin III is getting all of the hype because because, like, every NFC East intradivision game is nationally televised, but is anyone actually watching the #1 draft pick? Anyone? Tennessee at Indianapolis - sometime on Sunday, who cares what channel, not like you're going to watch anyway

College football - Does Northern Illinois belong in the BCS Sure! Good for them. I am all for the champion of at least one "non-AQ" conference playing in a BCS bowl.

This is the thing that gets me the most when people complain about the 3rd-best SEC team not getting into a BCS bowl. Conference schedules are their own playoff. You play everybody in your division, the top division teams play each other, and the winner is the conference champion. Nobody seems to consider that, and thus, most 4- or 8-team playoff proposals that people put out there don't put any value on a conference championship. If you're 11-1 and ranked #3 in the country, but don't even win your division because there's another 11-1 team in your division, and thus end up having to play in the Citrus Bowl or something, well, those are the breaks. Oh, and you had your chance, because you played that other team head-to-head. Let's give Northern Illinois a chance. Is college football a sport, or is it an entertainment vehicle disguised as a sport that favors money over fairness? (Don't answer that.)

It kind of stinks from Florida State's perspective, though, because if they lose, then the ACC champion just lost to the MAC champion (ouch); if they win, then, well, it was only Northern Illinois, so who cares? Well, I will value a win over Northern Illinois as an accomplishment, even if you don't.

College basketball - So...it's looking to be a tough year for Florida State basketball. They've already four games, including home games to South Alabama and Mercer (ouch), and got blown out by Florida this past week. Here's the thing with Leonard Hamilton's defense-oriented system: you need experienced players in order to pull it off. The Seminoles lost six seniors last year, and it shows. On offense, you can get by on skill alone sometimes, but playing good defense takes some work and experience. It'll be a year or two before these new big guys will be able to approach the level of interior defense that the team has shown the last few years. Until they get to that point...NIT? Maybe? Maine at Florida State - Sun 4:00p, ESPNU

I was already kind of not expecting much from Penn State this year, and then, their far-and-away best player, Tim Frazier, got hurt and is out for the year. Well, now they're really screwed, and could be on their way to a last place finish in the conference, again. All I have to say is, thank goodness for Nebraska. Hey, any chance Rutgers could join the Big Ten this year instead, too? Army at Penn State - Sat 4:00p, BTN

Since I just went poo-poo all over Penn State's men's basketball program, let me counter that by pointing out that Penn State's women's soccer team just made the national championship game. So, good for them! (Although to be honest, I was actually rooting for Florida State, whom PSU beat in the semifinals. FSU's women's soccer team has been good for several years now, and I'd like to see them get at least one national championship out of it.)

2 comments:

bubba0077 said...

While I'm not going to attempt to defend the NHL in any way, I do need to comment on your "real fan" rant. When you follow a team through all the good AND the bad, you become more emotionally invested in the team. That makes the successes even more enjoyable. As far as accountability, in "real sports markets" the fans are far more vocal, because they care. In other markets, people just become apathetic. Neither is "correct", but the former are by definition "better fans".

Chris Allen said...

What you call "apathetic", I call "choosy". :)