Wednesday, January 31, 2007

QBs in Shopping Carts

I could have just as easily titled this rant: What have they done to my game? Or, Why I won't be watching the Superbowl this weekend. I used to love the NFL. Then "stuff" started to happen. It started with TV Time Outs. Those inexplicable time-outs that inevitably interfere with the natural rhythm of the game. Just go watch a good high school game on a Fall Friday night and see what "natural rhythm" is all about.

Then, in what I take to be an effort to cut back on human resource costs, cable-mounted robotic cameras appear to much fanfare and self congratulation. Well, news flash: they suck. Networks have been trading leagues and playoffs as well recently, and a fan never knows just who to expect in the booth. Sure, the A-team announcers are spot-on. But the B- and C-teams are really, really bad - often consisting of tired old farts paired with young, brash and clueless know-it-alls. That frequently leads to some discernible disconnect at best, and tension at worst. Just what I want to be dealing with at game time.

Recently, network game coverage has been highlighting the "human drama" and "personal sacrifice" associated with the game. First of all, that's turning a perfectly good sport into soap opera; and second, it's kind of a hard sell with the numbers of NFL players busted of late for possession of firearms and assault. Get real. Can anyone say: "Too much drama?"

So drama's not enough. Advertising agencies, in their great wisdom, turned all of my heroes into laughing stocks. Here's where I give the title of the post a nod. The TV commercial that really drove me from the room holding my head was the one featuring a host of HOF-bound QBs being pushed around supermarkets in shopping carts. First time I saw that I had to reach for the air sickness bag. Who's idea was it anyway to turn our sports heroes into powerless fools in the fetal position? That's so intuitive, don't you think? But it didn't stop there, and still hasn't. How about Peyton in that black wig and fake stach? What a giggle, no?

As my frustration mounted, the real jock in the household introduced me to European League Soccer and world-class Rugby. That would be my eldest, adult daughter - a roommate at El Ranchito. This is a girl who used to greet me on Sunday mornings with a recitation of all the times and channels for televised games; the key match-ups, and her personal picks for the day's schedule. She had a poster of Steve Young in her room. An all-conference athlete herself, she takes sports very seriously. And she's way big on soccer and rugby now. Frankly, I can see why. A total breath of fresh air. Soccer fans sing with joy, and scream in agony.


Soccer is not the only "other" football. There's "Irish" football, Aussie Rules and my new favorite, Rugby. American males, who are suffering and in decline, should take a look at Rugby. It's a very masculine and triumphal struggle. The New Zealand All Blacks rugby squad is simply the best football team of any sort on the planet. That "Haka" they do before each game would chill any opponent. Interesting that the team's biggest threat is its smallest player.

So I'm not going to be watching the Superbowl this weekend, for the first time in a couple of decades. I'm not convinced the rivals are of interest to anyone outside the corn belt in any case. And I'm also sure there will be way to much drama. I'm just not interested in sports soap operas. I'll catch the commercials online. Hold the barbecue, stow the chips. You can leave the beer.

1 comment:

bob said...

Amen on the NFL's dumbing down. I'm not sure if they're tracking their audience (vidience?) or vice versa. Thanks for the heads-up on the availability, online, of the Super Bowl commercials...in time for the 2008 game. The competition among the ad writers frequently is better than the game. And it gives some great writing (@ $2.7 million per 30 second spot). I wouldn't drink their beer if they gave it away, but I can't forget such classic lines as, "Paper or plastic?" Now, thanks to you, I can enjoy the commercials without having to sit through the game.