Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Pick Your Bowl

Just a few days ago, the matches for all 35 college football bowls were announced. You didn't know there were 35 of them? Chances are you live within 2-300 miles of one of the schools with a team involved. My alma mater's in a bowl, though just barely at 6-6, paired against another team with the same record, and so is the team I lend my psychic energy to every week, though the energy only helped produce a 7-5 record.
A reasonable person might ask how we came to have 35 bowls, when no one not paid to do it could keep track of such an array of athleticism. I think the answer to that question is a common one in our society. Someone felt that there was money to be made by putting on a show, in this case a football game.
Here's an illustration. Iowa plays the team from a neighboring state, Missouri. The game, however, doesn't take place in Keokuk, Council Bluffs or somewhere in the greater Kansas City area, but in Tempe, AZ, easily a thousand miles from either school. This might not be great news for those wanting to see the game live (though any excuse to get out of late December cold in Iowa is a good one), but it's great news if you run an airline, or rent cars or provide limos, hotel rooms, booze, meals or any number of other services. The chief sponsor, Insight, a website of some kind that I have no knowledge of whatsoever, puts up big money to put the game on in exchange for plastering its name all over Tempe and friendly TV outlets in Tempe, Iowa and Missouri.
And that, folks, isn't even the whole story. You have to get two major college bands to the game in order to perform a halftime show which will probably be ignored by most of the crown. Then there's a boatload of "journalists" paid to opine on things like the various defensive schemes and the chances of so-and-so entering the NFL draft a year early. Both schools will bring a boatload of administrators, athletic and otherwise, to see the school's big moment in the sun since the work of medical labs and computer applications is not really meant for crowds.
Amidst all this economic stimulation, does anyone risk coming out a loser? Ah, sure. There's the odd player who might suffer a career-ending injury, but that's a risk that's taken on every play all season, even in practice. And someone else will get an opportunity to show his stuff when anyone goes down. Then there's the chance of a student (or an alum, for that matter) losing his or her self-respect over some alcohol-fueled indiscretion, but of course there are plenty of chances for that in life - even at home.
Will they all be great games? Not a chance. There may be a few games so bad that they should let you in for free, then charge you when you want to leave. Sometimes a matchup of middling teams on a neutral field just produces more mediocrity. I observed a prediction of all 35 bowls within 24 hours of their having been announced. Some, according to this sagely written piece, will have the halftime show as a highlight. Skip those no matter how many channels you get.


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