Back in 2009, fellow NPIer Josh asked, “What Common Human Behavior Will be Viewed as Mistaken in 100 Years?” He used that question to talk about vegetarianism, but the question popped into my head recently regarding football. It is starting to seem inevitable to me that football—a sport everyone here at NPI loves—will be seen as barbaric and immoral in a generation or two. The more science exposes about the long-term effects of concussions and subconcussive impacts, the more it seems that there is simply no safe way to play football.
Right now, however, football’s popularity seems invulnerable. The highest rated show on TV last year was Sunday Night Football; it was so highly rated that it, combined with the Super Bowl, kept NBC—NBC!—from finishing last among the four major networks this season. This year’s BCS National Championship was watched by 24.2 million viewers, and that was the lowest rated championship of the BCS era. In a recent piece on football’s popularity for Grantland, Chuck Klosterman pointed out that 25 million people watched the NFL Draft, “a statistic that grows crazier the longer you dwell upon its magnitude.” And, if anything, the football’s popularity seems poised to grow as an influx of popular young stars like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Tim Tebow enters the league.
In other words, football’s decline seems both inevitable and impossible. Continue reading »
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose!
Well, Friday Night Lights has officially ended, and for good this time. FNL has had more shots at an ending than any show not named One Tree Hill. The show’s first and third season finales were both written as potential series finales before late renewals extended its life. And for those who watched the fifth season when it initially aired on DirecTV, the series ended back in February. Even the DVDs were released in April, but the show’s final run on NBC finished up last night. So, sadly, Friday Night Lights, one of the best series of the last decade, is over.
And for all the controversial endings to classic shows over the last few years—The Sopranos, The Wire, Lost, Battlestar Galactica—I’ve never been as upset watching a finale as I was watching the finale to Friday Night Lights.
The final image of the series was Eric and Tami Taylor walking off the football field. This was the perfect ending for the series… except that the football field was in Philadelphia, not Texas. Continue reading »
By this point, I think it’s pretty clear that I, like most people, don’t like the Bowl Championship Series. I stated most of my case last season, when I suggested a 12-team playoff replace it. I’m more onboard with a 16-team variation now than I was then, but that’s not necessarily original and doesn’t require a whole lot of explanation.
But when someone, in this very space, deigns to point out any good things about the BCS, well, then it’s my turn to chime in and refudiate those notions.*
*What’s that? Sarah Palin jokes are also unoriginal and gratuitous? My bad. Change that to “repudiate” then.
Continue reading »
Playoffs? Don't talk to me about playoffs!
The BCS is probably the most universally reviled institution in all of sports. It is more unpopular than the Wild Card, free agency, Billy Packer, sideline reporters, in-game celebrity interviews, that weird ball the NBA introduced a few years ago, the designated hitter, Joey Crawford, blown calls by umpires, life-shortening head trauma, and even Roger Clemens.
Some of this is due to the blatant unfairness of the BCS, in that small schools from non-BCS conferences, like Boise State and TCU, are inevitably punished by the system. But this can’t account for all of the animosity towards the BCS—after all, in the latest rankings TCU was #3 in the country. The BCS is no more unfair than, say, the absence of a salary cap in baseball, or the fact that there will be a playoff team from the NFC West this season, but it draws exponentially more ire than either of these injustices.
It seems to me that the primary reason for anti-BCS sentiment is that the principles behind the BCS are unique in the world of sports. They are so unique, in fact, that people don’t seem to even understand them.
Continue reading »
What we read while telling WikiLeaks they couldn’t use our server….
- John Paul Stevens was interviewed on 60 Minutes. Even more interesting is the full transcript of his April interview with Jeffrey Rosen.