Archive for the ‘The Sports Revolution’ Category

The Sports Revolution: To Halve Is To Have Not

Let me say first that, in general, I agree with my colleague’s assessment of the Ryder Cup. There is something so…so sporting about the event that I enjoy it very much, despite its reprehensible underrepresentation of my native land.*

*No love this year for U.S. Open runner-up Gregory Havret, Captain Monty?

But it is not all the sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows that mon frere makes it out to be. No, the Ryder Cup is not perfect. It has one very glaring, to the point of being almost unignorable, flaw: The Half.

The Half is merely golf’s pretentious term for a draw, which is soccer’s pretentious term for a tie. The Ryder Cup embraces ties like no event outside of the World Cup. Every match must end by the 18th, and the ones that end with neither team having an advantage are, well, halved. But you can’t eat your cake and halve it, too.* You can’t host an event all about winning while expressing no qualms when several of its constitutive parts end in draws.

*Forgive my inversion of the phrase for a larger rhetorical punch.

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The Sports Revolution: A Preseason that Counts

Only 8.5% of the way through its regular season, the NFL has already been battered by injuries. Several teams, specifically those that wear green, have already lost key players to season-ending maladies of the gruesome variety.*

*Pierre does not link to such grotesquerie as Leonard Weaver’s AHH!

The promptness of such injuries has again allowed people to make light of the NFL’s ridiculous strategy to expand its regular season to 18 games. Now, the NFL has contemplated the Preseason Question for some time now, attempting to balance its clear desire for more money with an equally clear lack of fan interest in games that don’t count in the standings — the equivalent of football “friendlies.”

There are two basic remedies to this issue. The first is to reduce the preseason by a game or two, therein reducing revenue since season-ticket holders pay as much to attend (or, in many cases, not attend) as regular-season games. The second idea alleviates the problems of the first: Cut down the preseason, and, in its place, extend the regular season. Continue reading

The Sports Revolution: Fixing the All-Star Game

In preparation for this year’s Fall Classic, we asked Pierre Menard if he would be interested in revising his plans from last season on how to fix Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. “Revise???” Pierre responded indignantly. “What revisions are needed? Fine, change the moronic number of current All-Stars from 32 per side to 34 and we’re done.” We didn’t even go that far. Here, unrevised and from last season, is Pierre on, well, revising the All-Star Game.

Let me set the scene for you: It’s an All-Star Game, and nobody cares.

Let me reset the scene for you: It’s an All-Star Game, and everybody cares.

My esteemed colleague wrote a vapid, nonsensical, and generally tedious post on why the Major League Baseball All-Star Game isn’t that bad. But John S, let’s be honest with ourselves and call a spade a spade. What fan of baseball is actually going to subject themselves to the abject torture that is the All-Star Game? I challenge you, John S, to sit there through the interminable player introductions, ceremonial first pitches, shots of Bud Selig, and not least in inducing woe, the actual four-hour game, and come out on the other side of it thinking yourself somehow enhanced by the experience.

A confession: I have not watched an All-Star Game in its entirety; this is because I have a sense of propriety. I did monitor bits and pieces of last year’s, which proved mildly interesting. But suffice it to say that, each year, Major League Baseball errs more in its All-Star shenanigans than Daniel Uggla.

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The Sports Revolution: And TWO!

Let me set the scene for you: You are playing the game of basketball, and you drive to the basket, and you are fouled on a layup attempt that you miss. You receive two free throws. The next play, the same thing occurs, except that you make the layup. You receive one free throw.

Let me reset the scene for you: Playing the game of basketball, yadda yadda, miss layup + foul = two free throws, made layup + foul = two free throws.

Wait, what?

Yes, mon ami, Pierre returns and with a vengeance. The NBA shall draw my unique ire over the course of the next several weeks, as I once again spew vitriol at the odd presumptions of American sports rules, taking aim at its most athletic and aesthetic of sports, but one that is passing away before our very eyes.

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The Sports Revolution: Tweaking the Olympics

Let me set the scene for you: The Games of the XXI Winter Olympiad are about to end, and they were pretty good.

Let me reset the scene for you: The Games of the XXI Winter Olympiad are about to end, and they were truly transcendent. Everyone is anxiously awaiting the Closing Ceremonies, complete with the first unveiling of the Ultimate Podium and the first declaration of a real Olympic winner.

We all know that the Winter Olympics suffer from a bit of a middle-child syndrome, perpetually locked between the last Summer Olympics and the next Summer Olympics. But at their heart, the Winter Olympics should be more fascinating than their vernal kin. This is because so many of its events are so novel to us living in America. We no longer live in the peaceful America of Saturdays spent with Jim McKay and ABC’s Wide World of Sports, where we’d occasionally catch a glimpse of a skiing event in a year that wasn’t divisible by four.* With our sporting purview more limited to the mainstream now, our predominant reaction to the sports of the Winter Olympics comprises questions such as, “What’s going on here?” and “How come nobody else thinks this is that cool?” (The latter of which is adopted by my own colleague.)

*This was back when the Winter Olympics only occurred in years divisible by four. Continue reading

The Sports Revolution: A Canadian Overtime

Let me set the scene for you: At the end of regulation, the Saints and Colts are tied at 48 in what has already been proclaimed the Greatest Sporting Event in the History of the West. In overtime, however, whoever wins the coin toss unimpressively moves 35 yards down the field and anticlimactically kicks a championship-winning field goal. Its status as GSEHW is quickly revoked and handed back, somewhat perplexingly, to the Toronto Blue Jays’ 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers from June 17, 1995.

Let me reset the scene for you: At the end of regulation, the Saints and Colts are tied at 48 in what has already been proclaimed the Greatest Sporting Event in the History of the West. The drama doesn’t cease there but rather builds to an astonishing Wagnerian crescendo in overtime, where one of the teams finally crosses the goal line to claim the Lombardi Trophy. The game’s status as GSEHW is not only confirmed but changed slightly, with “West” being replaced by “World.” This is possible because, finally and logically, we have changed the rules that govern overtime in the National Football League.

There is no secret that overtime in the NFL is broken. The team that wins the coin toss wins an alarming amount of the time—close to 60 percent since 2000. Despite a prominent countryman of mine’s firm belief that chance is the only reasonable divinity (Tim’s favorite, Camus, although I doubt he understands the complexity of The Fall) or a not-so-prominent co-blogger of mine’s own investigation into the morality of the coin toss, the outcome of football games should not rest on the flick of a referee’s finger.

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The Sports Revolution: The Bonus Field Goal

Let me set the scene for you: There are four seconds left in an intense NFL playoff game. The visiting team, down by three and at the opponent’s 30-yard line, sends out its placekicker for a 48-yard field goal that will either end his team’s season or send the game to overtime. It is a dramatic moment.

Let me reset the scene for you: There are four seconds left in an intense NFL playoff game. The visiting team, down by three and at the opponent’s 30-yard line, sends out its placekicker for a 48-yard field goal that will end his team’s season, send the game to overtime, or end the other team’s season. Because especially accurate kicks that travel between Arena League-style interior uprights are worth four points, it is as dramatic as moments get in sports. Win, tie, and loss are all in play.

We can all agree that not all field goals are the same; some are more difficult than others. This has been the main motivation for changing the point distribution on field goals; theoretically, kicks that are harder to make should be worth more than easier ones. Most suggestions along this line, then, endorse making a field goal in excess of 50 yards worth an extra point.

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