As our resident college football guy, it seems only fair that I write something about tonight’s BCS Championship game. That said…
These games can be saved only if you find yourself a fan of either team participating, or if you’re a sportswriter pushing retirement age who can spin poetic about the “tradition” of these schools, talking about players that have long since passed on, telling us about the “glory days” of college football when you know full well the games sucked then, but we weren’t alive and therefore can’t correct you. It is lazy, and there is nothing more the vast majority of seasoned sportswriters love more than lazy, than a storyline that allows them to stroll into their archives, pick out an article from 1978 and simply run a “find and replace” to create an article for 2013.
Tonight, be prepared to hear the word “classic” when it doesn’t apply, prepare to hear the word “tradition” to refer to schools that have recently shown their tradition to be either poisoned or perpetrated on fraud and deceit. Prepare to talked to as if you would have to be a fool not to love a game predicated on whose kicker has the longest range. Prepare to feel the strong desire to watch something else or go to bed before the game is over. My advice would be to follow those desires.
Several weeks ago I as mulling over the idea of systematically taking down both of these institutions as representing at its very core what is wrong with college football. I imagined a profound post, with thousands more words than usual, analyzing the cultural impact of college football in this country and what it does to make administrators act in morally repulsive ways, placing their students in danger, admitting criminals and the academically deficient in order to fill their coffers and consolidate their power in a world where a couple losing seasons can mean the unemployment line. Just a year ago the media told us that we could no longer hold any program out as an example of good; we were told that no longer could schools be said to be “doing it the right way,” or achieving “victory with honor.”
In one corner, we have Alabama, where fans show their devotion by poisoning trees and rubbing their nuts on people’s faces. Here we have a football-crazed state where millions root for a team comprised heavily of African-Americans while 21% of Alabama voters believe those African-Americans should be barred from interracial marriage. Where 86% believe the President of the United States is either a Muslim or are unsure of his religious affiliation and where 60% believe evolution to be fictitious. Believe me, Alabama has a tradition; one personified by Bull Connor, not Bear Bryant.
In the other, we have Notre Dame, the team that will run onto the field with a rapist among them. A rapist who you may see on your television tonight holding the crystal football, a satisfied smile spread ear-to-ear. A rapist who has enjoyed the protection of his coach, his president, and teammates who had his back from the very beginning, ensuring the victim was aware that “messing with Notre Dame football is a mistake.” A rapist who has his whole life ahead of him and is likely thankful his victim took her own life instead of taking away his livelihood.
And forgive me if the 13-6 game we’re in store for tonight won’t be enough to forget that absurdity.