Why the Super Bowl (and Other Sports) Shouldn't Become Political Footballs

Or, as a teenage, mostly non-practicing heterosexual libertarian regularly accused of being gay and communist simply for playing soccer, I am annoyed when some dumb game is larded up with ideological meaning.

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Indeed, the heavyweight champs of using sports to score cheap partisan points may well have been Ethel and Julius Rosenberg who, while awaiting their execution for atomic espionage in 1953, still found time to share jailhouse thoughts about the Brooklyn Dodgers. "It is the Dodgers' unconquerable spirit which makes people love them," Ethel wrote to her husband at one point in letters they knew would be published. "The victory of the Dodgers over the Phillies quickly restored me to my customary good spirits." As the great literary and cultural critic Leslie Fiedler observed caustically, such a transparently stagey and ham-handed gesture shifts us "from melodrama to comedy." That the comedy is unintended is besides the point, as was Ethel’s grasp of the proletariat pecking order of the Senior Circuit. If there was a team more worthy of working-man, hang-dog solidarity than the Bums, it was surely the hapless Phils who, despite their recent success, own the world record for total losses in any league of any sport.

But at least Ethel Rosenberg could plead distraction due to a date with the electric chair. In 2000, when the loathsome Yankees squared off against the equally rancid Mets in the World Series, conservative scribe Peggy Noonan unconsciously channeled Mrs. Rosenberg and actually wrote:

The Mets, my Metties, are the team of square, flat Long Island and the striving unchic boroughs—the team of the middle and working class... In a country in which status is everything, the Mets are the team of the nobodies. They are the team of those lacking in status, the ones with no special claims, the people who’ll never be in style. God bless all Met fans, a hardy crew that don’t give a damn....

Such a characterization isn’t simply wrong (though it is that). It blasts common-sense out of the park like a Dave Kingman moon shot circa 1976. As a kid growing up in New Jersey and in a National League household (like the Rosenbergs, my father had been a Brooklyn diehard growing up, though he never once pondered whether Carl Furillo or Cookie Lavagetto supported the Taft-Hartley Act), I saw my first two dozen ball games in the late, unlamented Shea Stadium. And I lived in Queens when the Mets beat the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, so I have some familiarity both with certifiably obnoxious Mets rosters over the years and, worse, their even more obnoxious fans. Mets fans may never have style, but they have long believed themselves to be a chosen people, an arrogance that even Gary Carter’s poodle haircut, Lenny Dykstra’s rotting teeth, or the Jim Fregosi trade can diminish.

None of this is to say that politics and sports don’t overlap in profound and typically stupid ways. The modern Olympics were political from their start, conceived by a Frenchman as a means to avenge defeat in the Franco-Prussian War; later, they became one of the great Cold War proxy battles, spurring personal and taxpayer sacrifice in pursuit of international bragging rights in shot-putting, race walking, and team-pursuit bicycle racing. Baseball, America’s supposed pastime, translated the nation’s original sin of slavery into sport by banning blacks from competing for decades; the rigged and near-absolute control of team owners over players in baseball provided management with government-sanctioned power that Andrew Carnegie could only have dreamed of. The Edifice Complex subsidies that build stadiums everywhere and by every level of government are first and foremost political issues.

But discussing any of that is as distinct from anointing this or that game as truly conservative or liberal or libertarian or whatever as soccer is distinct from synchronized swimming. As the Super Bowl beckons, word comes that Gisele Bundchen, the supermodel wife of Patriots QB Tom Brady, has conscripted her friends and family via email to beg God to suit up for New England on Sunday. Mrs. Brady wrote:

Pray for [Tom], so he can feel confident, healthy and strong. Envision him happy and fulfilled experiencing with his team a victory this sunday.

Given how beautiful and rich and successful Brady and Bundchen already are, even atheists would be forgiven for asking whatever gods still exist to let the Giants win (even if it means giving yet another triumph to a New York team and another ring on the fingers of the lantern-jawed Manning Brothers, themselves annoyingly successful). But however distasteful Bundchen's special pleading may be—the New York Post called her email campaign "disgustingly sappy"—at least she doesn't mix politics and sport in the way that so many others do.

We politicize just about everything these days, which is surely one of the reasons why there is so little joy in Mudville and even why the housing market first inflated and then popped. Surely, we can get by in our leisure time without reflexively mapping our preferred sports to our preferred ideology. Soccer had no inherent ideology when meatheads were denouncing it as gay or communistic and MMA is not any more conservative than NASCAR isn't. If that small truth gets in the way of whiling away the weekends, well, maybe you're not half the fan you think you are.

Nick Gillespie is editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv and co-author with Matt Welch of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America. He hopes both teams lose in the Super Bowl.

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  • Tim||

    From teenage soccer to writing for Time, it's been a straight downward and anti-American slide for you.

  • bi-sexual||

    Bi or want to find people having the same sexual orientation?---datebi*cO'm--- is a safe and free site for you.

  • o3||

    pro wrestling is teh truz conservative sport.

  • truz conzervativ||

    traktor pullz!

  • Brett L||

    C'mon, Nick, even Dr. Sheldon Cooper knows that soccer is a communist plot. Its okay that you were a fellow traveler.

  • Spiny Norman||

    It's called futbol, you goddam imperialist.

  • Brett L||

    "Texas has all forms of football. Pee-wee football, high school football, college football, professional football, even European football, which many Texans suspect is a communist plot."

    --Dr. Sheldon Cooper

    So, yeah, I'm the imperialist. Although I can list both male and female former professional futbol players amongst my friends, so its relatively benign imperialism.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    TBBT is a communist plot.

  • wareagle||

    I blame soccer for the death of the white football player. My high school team was about 50-50 racially; there was no soccer team. Then came the little round ball and all those mommies worried that Tyler and Spencer and Jordan would get hurt if they played ball with, well you know, those other kids.

  • KDN||

    Soccer's also much, much cheaper than football. It's sold as being safer, but that's unmitigated bullshit.

    If you want to play the racial angle, I'd say that soccer's responsible for the decline of the white basketball player.

  • wareagle||

    I don't know...basketball has always been more of an urban game; lot easier to have space for a couple of baskets than an open field, except for places like Indiana and a couple of others.

    While I appreciate watching Europeans and South Americans play soccer, the game seems wasted on the US, and it sucks kids out the more traditional sports here.

  • ||

    Jesus...

  • KDN||

    Soccer's a plenty urban game, jusnot in this country. I think that we'd start dominating global soccer if all of the would-be Allen Iversons of the world would make the switch. Every single D-I basketball team has had a too-small two guard that is an athletic freak but doesn't have size to make anything of themselves at the next level (the #7 all time NCAA scorer, for example). Those kids all play soccer in other countries and are damn good at it.

  • Rhywun||

    > it sucks kids out the more traditional sports here

    Nonsense. Most of those kids ditch soccer for "more traditional" sports before high school.

  • robc||

    Its soccer. Short for Association Football, so we dont confuse it with Rugby Football.

    The damn rest of the world screwed this up so bad that even England forgot why they invented that word.

  • ||

    all this 'ballin going on gots to be a good thing.

  • Apatheist||

    Also Aussie Football. They all (including American Football) have a shared history so I really don't get all the consternation over this (and Association Football/Soccer is my favorite sport to play and watch).

  • ||

    I actually watched that back when ESPN didn't have any mainstream sports. The one legacy I have from that time is that I (and my brother), will occasionally do the two-finger-guns-at-your-hips scoring signal that the refs in white lab coats do when there's a score for NFL field goals.

  • wareagle||

    I loved watching that. Now, THAT is a contact sport. Loved the refs' uniforms, especially the hats.

  • ||

    I have some funky channel on my sattilite that still shows the games. I like it to.

    I love retro ESPN. I would much rather have tractor pulls, swamp buggy racing (that was a sport whose should have come), and Aussie Rules football than endless sportscenter reruns.

  • ||

    Old, outsider ESPN was fine. But that ended a long, long time ago.

  • kiwi dave||

    I blame Britain joining the EU. Ironic that a word originating in Britain was dropped because it sounds like an Americanism.

    There's been a push in Australia and New Zealand to claim the word "football" for soccer because it sounds cool and European, but it's only had limtied success so far.

  • robc||

    Australia has football already, so I dont see it changing there.

    Do they play Aussie rule in NZ? Im guessing no, I know they are big in Rugby.

  • kiwi dave||

    No, Aussie Rules is not played in any major way in NZ -- rubgby union is the default version of football (we just won the World Cup); until the last decade or so, Aussie Rules wasn't even played in much of Australia (esp New South Wales, Queensland and ACT where the two rugby codes have always been bigger -- see this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barassi_line).

  • ||

    Hey, while you're here, I have a question. Is New Zealand overrun with lethal, well, everything the way Australia is?

  • kiwi dave||

    Weirdly, no. No snakes, no scorpions, no crocs, almost no shark attacks. Only one poisonous spider (the katipo), and even that is super-rare and not actually deadly. And the climate is a whole lot milder (no deserts).

  • ||

    Okay, good. New Zealand is definitely my fall-back country if the U.S. blows to pieces. Where should I live?

  • kiwi dave||

    Try Nelson -- good climate, not too overpriced, and some of the world's best chardonnay; or Hawkes Bay. Since James Cameron is buying up the rest of the Wairarapa (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CEQQFjAD&url=http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/6349700/James-Cameron-pays-20m-for-Wairarapa-farms&ei=HiUsT9DVDdKItwea5LjVDw&usg=AFQjCNE_BlkIJCqQtiBc01lxTQoJwMxDeA&sig2=5yOEn0zKRc6_xLZasVP-Kg) you would have to hurry.

    Auckland is a great city (I'm from there) but real estate is massively overpriced (you're looking at at least USD 800k for something halfway decent).

  • ||

    I don't want to live next to Cameron.

    Expensive is okay, as I plan to loot the U.S. before I leave. During the revolution and everything people probably won't care.

  • ||

    As Tony Curtis said in "Operation Petticoat" -- in confusion there is profit.

  • ||

    The problem is the Kiwis in my experience are the worst sorts of busy body socialists who hate Americans. Beautiful place, but if the smug doesn't get them, the volcanoes will.

  • kiwi dave||

    Then you haven't met many Kiwis then. Outside of the academic/media elites, most NZers are pretty pro-American and not busybodies. And while the policy environment is not perfect in libertarian terms, there's a fair basis for saying it compares favorably with the US overall (although that's more to do with a loss of liberty in the US). In economic terms, after the 1980s reforms, NZ is arguably less socialist than America.

  • kiwi dave||

    Actually, John, in my own experience and that of others I've talked to, NZers doing busines in America are often stunned how heavy the regulatory burden is in the US and how pervasive government is.

  • Rhywun||

    Especially since the word is thought to have been formed in a way that no American would ever come up with, analogous to other very British words like preggers and rugger.

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    Metric football is the correct term. Anything metric is unAmurrican.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    WTF, is #16 Franco Harris?

  • sarcasmic||

    tl;dr

  • ||

    HAHAHA!

  • me myself and I||

    Arena Football is the True Libertarian Sport, because it's weird and nobody cares about it until they can sell out and join the NFL.

  • Almanian||

    Nah, scab football in the 80's when I was in college.

    Strike-Breaking Union Busters - #WINNING #LIBERTOPIA

  • BigT||

    Gillespie: "There outta be a law!"

  • ||

    Gillespie: "It's still 1997, right?"

  • ||

    There's a lot of bullshit about sports. I like following several sports and was pretty athletic in my younger years, but it's just--especially when watching and not participating--solely and simply a form of entertainment. Making it quasi-religious or political makes no fucking sense to me.

    One thing I find a little odd about professional sports in particular is the idea that the geographical location somehow "wins" when a local team wins a championship. In college sports, a number of players might actually be from the area or, at least, the same state. In the pros, that's not true at all. So while I'm going to be very happy when the Rays win the World Series this year, I'm not going to think Tampa is somehow a baseball powerhouse independent of the team. Actually, that's a bad example, because Tampa is a big source of baseball talent. But they aren't all playing here, right?

  • ||

    It is a benign form of tribalism. Better to have the people from Tampa Bay brag about their baseball team, than build an army and besiege and burn Baltimore, New York and Boston.

  • ||

    You know, you may be wrong about that.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Better to have the people from Tampa Bay brag about their baseball team, than build an army and besiege and burn Baltimore, New York and Boston.

    I get your point, but couldn't you pick three better cities?

  • ||

    I kind of like Baltimore. It gets a bad rap. There are a lot of good neighborhood bars in Baltimore. It kind of has its own rundown charm to it.

  • ||

    Most American cities have something okay about them. Baltimore isn't so great, and it's pretty expensive for what you get. I once chose local unemployment over a relocation to there.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Good neighborhoods in Baltimore: Fells Point, Federal Hill,...ummmm......

  • ||

    That is two more than some cities have. And those are really nice. And the hipsters in Baltimore tend to be more stoned and less noxious than the ones in DC.

    What can I say, I like old cities. I like Philadelphia for God's sake.

  • ||

    There's something wrong with you. I liked the historical stuff in Philadelphia. And the City Tavern. That's about it.

  • ||

    You don't like the Art museum Pro? The Academy of Music? They have a fantastic symphony there. A lot of culture in Philadelphia. And Old City and Center City have a ton of great restaurants and good bars. Works for me.

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    It also has I-95 and the Schuylkill Expressway as the main means of entry or exit. To painful. I'll stay in my far suburbs, thanks.

  • ||

    What does Tampa have besides some old cigar factories, heat, humidity, and bugs the size of mid sized dogs?

    And don't tell me beaches because that is in St. Pete and Clearwater.

  • ||

    I dunno, must be a pit. Stay away!

  • robc||

    Scientologists.

  • ||

    That's Clearwater [Bows towards Scientologist masters].

  • robc||

    Metro area is metro area.

    And Im sure some roam around the bay.

  • Ted S.||

    What does Tampa have besides some old cigar factories, heat, humidity, and bugs the size of mid sized dogs?

    Try the Mons Venus.

  • ||

    World famous. Not kidding.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    I actually like Philly, too. My wife is from the Philly 'burbs, and I've always enjoyed the times we went into the city. I even found the majority of the people to be quite friendly despite the national perception, although, I never went there for a sporting event.

  • KDN||

    Good neighborhoods in Baltimore: Fells Point, Federal Hill,...ummmm......

    Canton and Brewer's Hill are pretty cool too. Sure, it's Baltimore's version of Rittenhouse, but there's still some good times to be had. Along with the most overrated pizza place I've ever been to.

    I agree with John here, Baltimore's a pretty kick-ass place for a bender. It's Philadelphia's mini-me, no surprise he'd like it there too. And as an added bonus, both cities baseball stadiums are significantly better than NYC's.

  • ||

    Camdan Yards is still great. It is a shame their rat bastard owner ruined the Orioles. That is one of the great places on earth to watch a ball game.

  • Old Man With Candy||

    Charles Village. But for true grit, you need to talk about Hampden and Highlandtown, hon.

    Baltimore was a pretty cool town back in the Don Schaeffer days, when it was rescued from the toilet that D'alesandro chucked it in (and his sister continues the tradition, but on a larger scale). These days, it's a fucking armpit. Mimi Dipetro is spinning in his grave.

  • ||

    It gets a bad rap.

    You'll be here all week, and remember to tip your servers!

  • ||

    Those are the other teams in the East, Penguin. Interesting that they are cities most of us would like Tampa to attack--not sure why we aren't paired with nicer towns.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    It helps build rivalries if you really hate everything about the other team including where they come from.

  • ||

    There's some truth to that. For instance, in the NFL, my dislike of Carolina or Atlanta is fairly limited, even though they are nasty, icky rivals of the Bucs. Because I like North Carolina and I like Atlanta.

  • ||

    The people in Atlanta seemed to have no problem hating New Orleans and Charlotte.

  • ||

    True. But Atlanta has a proprietary attitude about the rest of the South and doesn't care for upstarts.

  • wareagle||

    I don't know...my wife's from South GA where most folks consider Atlanta to be from its own state.

  • ||

    Attacking Atlanta is OK with me, as long as they don't burn down the Varsity and JR's Log House. Trouble with Atlanta is there's no there there.

  • ||

    I don't get what the appeal of the Varsity is? It is like a restaurant designed and run by black people to sell bad food and abuse to doofus white folks.

    And I wouldn't burn down Atlanta. I quite liked it.

  • Amakudari||

    The competition between Charlotte and Atlanta is pretty dumb. Tribalists in the latter feel like the former is trying to take its "crown," and in the former our few, very unappreciated planners try to justify everything "because Atlanta did it."

    Most people in Charlotte are completely happy not being as urban as Atlanta and having a different culture. People can always relocate a few hours in either direction if they want something different.

    (Also, seriously, how can an Atlanta fan hate Carolina? It's two free wins almost every year.)

  • BakedPenguin||

    Those are the other teams in the East, Penguin.

    So why not burn down Toronto, then? Smug Ontario bastards.

  • ||

    Toronto is so nice and clean, though.

  • ||

    The best rivalry in sports is Kansas Missouri. It goes back to bleeding Kansas. One side really did once try to burn the other side down. 150 years later, it is still pure hatred. Shame it is ending this year.

  • ||

    Pisses me off that teams from that far west are joining the SEC. Things are so messed up right now. If we can't have playoffs, I'd rather have things the old way, with reasonably sized conferences, set bowl games if you win, etc. Tradition, if nothing else.

  • ||

    They system we have now is worse than the old bowl system. Screww the BCS. Under the old system, Stanford would have played LSU in the Sugar Bowl and OSU would have played Alabama in the Orange. Then from those two games you could have made a pretty good guess as to who is the best team. It wasn't always perfect. But it had tradition. And it gave you two or even three games on New Years that were relevant to the title.

    And Missouri has no business in the SEC. Missouri belongs in the Big 12 or maybe the Big 10 with Iowa and Nebraska. And what the hell A&M thinks it is going to do besides give LSU and Arkansas a reason to recruit Texas is beyond me.

  • ||

    Agreed. I was okay with Arkansas and South Carolina being added, but I did think Arkansas was as far west as the conference should go (being roughly even with Louisiana, it didn't seem totally outrageous).

    When the talk of expansion started, I was figuring FSU and Georgia Tech. The former is very SEC-like in the first place and has major rivalries with a few SEC teams. The latter was a founding member of the conference. Instead, we go to Missouri and Texas for teams?

  • ||

    It was about money Pro. They figured they already owned Florida and Georgia so GT and FSU didn't add anything. Also, Georgia and Florida were not too keen on their in state rivals leaving a crap conference and coming to the SEC. Joining the ACC killed FSU football. And playing there keeps Tech a junior partner to Georgia. Put those two teams in the SEC and things change. So, I really think Georgia and Florida probably had a few objections to adding those teams.

    But I think they are kidding themselves about TV markets. What will happen is A&M will become less popular in Texas because they won't be playing teams anyone there cares about.

  • robc||

    Lots of Tech fans dont want to be in the SEC. Myself included. We left for a reason, that reason hasnt changed (its just embodied in Saban instead of Bear), and we fit better in the ACC.

    Its an age split. GT alum of my age or younger generally prefer the ACC. The old fogies who remember the SEC days want to go back.

  • UGA Cato||

    Georgia Tech delenda est.

  • T||

    A&M (and Texas, for that matter) have weird cult followings within the state besides alumni & ex-students. A&M will still get lots of viewership in Texas.

  • robc||

    Missouri is even with Arky and LSU.

    TAMU on the other hand....

    And the butthurt between them and UT and not playing the rivalry game going forward is pathetic.

    GT left the SEC in the 60s and it hasnt changed the series with uga (other than we rarely win anymore).

  • kiwi dave||

    The best rivalry in sports is Kansas Missouri

    Not that I'm much of a soccer fan, but you can't go past Rangers v. Celtic.

  • ||

    In the US I guess. There are some soccer rivalries that are even beyond that. Rangers v. Celtics. And the other is Real Madrid v. Barcelona. Spain really is only 70 years removed from a civil war which Barcelona and Madrid were on opposite sides. Imagine if Atlanta and New York had had the two best baseball teams within living memory of the civil war. Now that is a rivalry.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Germany v. Any other country in Europe is a good soccer rivalry on a national stage.

  • robc||

    One World Cup and two World Wars.

  • KDN||

    Germany v. Any other country in Europe is a good soccer rivalry on a national stage.

    I always found it funny that England considers themselves to be Germany's main rival but it's completely not reciprocated. Germans simply view them a respected foe and save all their hate for the Dutch. It's similar to how Penn State and Ohio State see each other.

  • wareagle||

    The best rivalry in sports is Kansas Missouri.
    ------------------
    come on, John. I must protest, if for no other reason than my screen name requires it. There is only one rivalry against which all others are measured. It is often ugly, always passionate, sometimes stupid, and much easier to tolerate the further one lives from it.

    Mizzou and A&M were added for 1) money and 2) TV markets. The football choice would have been Ga Tech and FSU, but the SEC already has Atlanta and Tallahassee adds little. Adding St Louis, KC, and Houston among other TX cities keeps Mike Slive happy.

  • robc||

    Fucking terrorist.

    Yes, Im referring to you wareagle. I was surprised how butthurt yall got over trees when you once sabotaged a train.

    Also, Reggie Ball 2, 'barn 0. Suck it.

  • ||

    As opposed to sexually assaulting rival fans there Rob?

  • ||

    Sorry Rob. I forgot you were form TEch. Auburn and Tech had a rivalry? Wow. I didn't know that.

  • robc||

    Started playing in 1892, played every year from 1906 to 1987 (We didnt play uga a few years in that period).

    Auburn dominated thru 1914 and after 1968. We dominated in between.

    Auburn leads it 47-41-4. So its tight.

    The game skipped 1905 after the terrorist incident. From 1906 thru 1959 it was played in Atlanta every year (Clemson played us every year in ATL too, having the largest stadium in the SE was an advantage).

    After 1959, alternated between Atlanta and Birmingham before we finally went to Auburn again in 1970.

    Weve only played twice since 1987. The years surrounding Auburns undefeated 2004. The only reason they went undefeated is that Reggie Ball didnt get the chance to stomp them again.

  • wareagle||

    The only reason they went undefeated is that Reggie Ball didnt get the chance to stomp them again.
    --------------------------------
    bullshit squared. No one was going to beat the '04 team, certainly not a club with a QB who threw the ball away against his arch rival. ON FOURTH FREAKING DOWN.

  • robc||

    2-0.

    No reason to think he loses the one in between.

    We cant beat uga for lots of reasons, but havent had a problem with you guys the last 24 years.

  • wareagle||

    no reason beyond teams better than Tech could not beat the '04 team.

  • ||

    One thing about Tech: 222-0. Think that record stands.

  • robc||

    Heisman was a dick, but he was OUR dick.

  • wareagle||

    Auburn 47-41-4 all time. Suck on that. I would be okay with playing you guys annually, like the old days. Easy drive for both sides. Leaving the league was a bad move.

  • robc||

    Leaving the league was a bad move.

    It was the right thing to do. Dodd was right, Bear was wrong.

  • ||

    But Kansas Missouri has a real reason to have a rivalry Wareagle. Alabama Auburn doesn't beyond the fact that there is nothing else to do in Alabama.

  • ||

    What? You're insane. There will be a war between Northern Alabama and Southern Alabama some day.

  • ||

    In all seriousness Wareagle, here is why MU KU is better. Auburn Alabama is a football rivalry. No one gives a crap when they play each other in other sports. I don't see the state gearing up for the yearly basketball or baseball games. MU KU is a rivalry in all sports. Unlike the SEC (minus Kentucky) they play sports besides football. And those games matter.

  • wareagle||

    john,
    the AU/UA rivalry IS about football, true, but it's a 364-day buildup/hangover till game day. To call it an obsession is mild and only after moving out of the state do you realize how out of hand it sometimes gets.

    I would also contend that your analysis of 'nothing else to do' is another reason that elevates the rivalry. No Rams/Chiefs, no Cardinals, no NHL, all of which siphon off fans. Not even a K-State. I believe birth certificates, right after the box indicating M/F have another that requires allegiance to be pledged to one or the other.

  • ||

    The other thing Wareagle is that there is Kansas City which straddles the line between the two states. Here you have a major metropolitan area that is split down the middle and full of alums of both.

    The rivalry is actually a bit tame now. It used to be out of control. One of my uncles played football at KU in the early 60s. My grandparents went to see the KU MU game in Columbia and couldn't get anyone in Missouri to sell them gas because of their Kansas plates. It is crazy shit.

  • wareagle||

    and the KC market is a big reason why Mizzou was courted by the SEC. Didn't know it was that heated; just know what I grew up around with one interesting differentiating factor from KU/MU: the farther removed a fan from the actual institution, the more loony the fan is likely to be.

    I've worked with bama grads; nothing but good-natured ball-busting. The trailer trash, like the infamous tree killer, are much different and invariably pull for the other school. Their entire lives seem to hinge on how the football team performs. I was there last year, different state this year. Out of state is better.

  • ||

    Minus Kentucky? Florida won back-to-back titles not very long ago.

  • Jeremy||

    Unlike the SEC (minus Kentucky), huh?

    Psssst...Arkansas and Florida have the same number of national championships in basketball that Kansas and Missouri have. Arkansas is in the top 5 for total NCAA national championships of all athletic programs.

    No one gives a crap about Mizzou and Kansas in football, outside of Mizzou and Kansas. Mizzou is a third-tier basketball-and-nothing-else school, and Kansas is a first-tier basketball-and-nothing-else school. Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and LSU are all programs that are consistently in the top 10 nationally in multiple sports.

    Also, Kansas and Mizzou are fascist institutions.

  • ||

    Florida had one team that one a couple of titles. Arkansas had one run in the 1990s. To compare those two football Us (and that is being charitable to Arkansas who has sucked for long periods of its existence) to a school like Kansas is a joke. And yes, Mizzou sucks. But that just gives them a reason to hate on Kansas.

    And the only reason Arkansas has a bunch of national titles is because they have a monster track program not because they are any good at any sport anyone cares about.

    And I can't remember the last time Georgia or USC had even passable basketball teams. And LSU had a single run at the final four with Big Baby, and couple of one man teams with Shaq and before that Pete Marivic. And nothing else before or since.

    The SEC is a football conference. And it wasn't that great at event that before the last decade. Most of SEC history is Alabama embarrassing the rest.

  • ||

    That's an incredible and ahistorical stretch of the facts. The SEC has been performing well with multiple teams in basketball for a couple of decades.

    There's also baseball, which it does pretty well in, too.

  • ||

    It does do well in baseball. But who besides Kentucky was any good in basketball before the 00s? LSU had one lucky run to the final four. Arkansas was in the SWC when it was good. Georgia has been to the final four once in my lifetime. Auburn and Alabama haven't that I can remember. Neither has old Miss and MSU made one Cinderella run in the 1990s. Who does that leave? Tennessee? Vandy?

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    I'd go Barca and Real madrid for best rivalry. Not that I watch that metric football stuff, but they is some nice hate going on. Franco's troops executing Barca's club president, riots killing dozens in the golpe era, good stuff.

    It'd be like if they Michigan National guard killed Woody Hayes.

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    Pardon the spelling and grammar, I'm trying to post while keeping two kittens from eating my chicken sandwich.

  • ||

    "It'd be like if they Michigan National guard killed Woody Hayes."

    +100 But Woody would have put up a hell of a fight. He wouldn't have gone down alone.

  • robc||

    Anyone who punches a Tigger cant be a bad man.

  • MNG||

    Once I past the age of 8 I stopped picking teams by geographical accident. I pick them now based on style of play and/or some player(s) I respect for whatever reason.

  • ||

    I'm mostly geography bound, because I've lived in Tampa for so long. There's something to be said for being a fan of the same team for an extended period. When I was in exile in the Midwest during most of the 90s, I retained my allegiances down here.

    Growing up, I did have non-geographical allegiances--I was a Lakers fan from the Chamberlain years (I was a wee lad then) and a Braves fan from as early as I can remember. The Braves were the only team in the South, so I suppose that was quasi-geographical. While I've drifted to the local teams in both of those sports, the Braves are still my NL team, and my ultimate World Series is Atlanta-Tampa Bay.

  • ||

    The Astros and the Rangers. Or is Texas considered the Southwest?

  • Brett L||

    I don't know, but living in Houston for 12 years, I don't think one of those teams is anything but a farm team for actual MLB teams.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    One thing I find a little odd about professional sports in particular is the idea that the geographical location somehow "wins" when a local team wins a championship.

    You may find it intellectually curious, but on an emotional level, you understand it.

  • ||

    To some extent, yes, but if the Bucs were to go on a three-Super Bowl run, it would be the team, not the community, that was having the success. "Our" team, yes, but it just seems a little weird when you think about it.

    I remember when the Bucs won the Super Bowl, though. It was nuts here, especially given the rough time the team had in the 80s and the early 90s (bad owners are a curse).

  • The Washington Redskins||

    (bad owners are a curse).

    Tell me about it.

  • ||

    I was thinking about them. I always laugh when people criticize Washington coaches--Turner, Spurrier, Gibbs (Mark II), Schottenheimer, Shanahan. All good coaches with one little thing in common.

  • ||

    Try having a bad owner who is also one of the most (if not THE most) hated man in football.

  • ||

    He's awful, but not as totally awful as Snyder.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Think of other regional rivalries - CA vs. NV, MA vs. NH, OH vs. MI. It makes as much sense as they do.

  • ||

    Go Blue you fucking commie.

  • Ted S.||

    Those Packer fans act like they own the... oh wait, they do.

  • sarcasmic||

    Ever notice when someone is talking about a team that they like, that when the team wins it's "We won" and when the team loses it's "They lost"?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.
  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Forgot the attribution: "Some Guy Who Lost to Dallas"

  • ||

    Rent-seeking is the True American sport.

  • ||

    Jay Nordlinger talks about how there ought to be "safe zones" in society. That is areas that are totally politics free. He is a music critic and talks about how much he hates going to the symphony or opera only to be treated to some half wit polemic by the conductor. And he is right. Society needs to have areas that are apolitical. It allows people to have something to talk about and be involved in without being at each other's throats.

  • MNG||

    "It allows people to have something to talk about and be involved in without being at each other's throats."

    If more people realized that people they disagree with have a point, though one they ultimately don't buy, and are not evil "statist fucks" or "monocole wearing, heartless libertarians" then people need not be at each other's throats even in politics...

    I think politics can be infused into sports in absurd and pain in the ass ways, but to the extent that sports represent big business and cultural events some political overtones are going to be inevitable.

  • ||

    Some. But that is not quite the kind I am talking about. If the local symphony wants a sales tax to support it, then that is definitely political and is inevitable. But I am talking more about people using the forums to make irrelevant political points or politicians latching onto a sporting event to promote themselves.

  • MNG||

    I think for example it's appropriate to have a conversation about why male sports are so much bigger than female sports and the impact of that on boys and girls or why 70% of NFL players are black but a much smaller percentage of announcers or coaches are black. As long as it is not over done to do otherwise would amount to burying one's head over such things.

  • ||

    But that is politics related to the sport. So I can kind of see that.

  • Tony||

    There's a good reason etiquette requires that politics (and religion) not be discussed in social situations.

    And that's why I think manners should be rigorously taught to young children at taxpayers' expense, between Maoist indoctrination class and vegan lunch.

  • ||

    Ooooo so close. If you had said "at school." and left it there it would have been pretty believable.

  • ||

    Damn, I really need to pay better attention when doing other handles.

  • wareagle||

    -10 for the fake Tony trolling effort. "Maoist indoctrination classes"? As the ESPN guys would say, come on man.

  • Ultimate Frisbee||

    Yo, I welcome everyone. As long as you refuse to shower afterwards.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    How is soccer collectivist? Other than basic suggestions like "try to show player x onto his weaker foot" or "try to attack down the left wing", the manager in soccer doesn't have much control in how things go on the pitch. The movement and passing is pretty much up to the players themselves as they read the game. Also, even though there are defined positions such as fullback, central midfielder, winger, and striker, it's not that uncommon to see defenders coming up to join in attacking movements and forwards coming back to help defend. Compared to football where every player's role is specifically defined and every play is drawn up by a coach with specific instructions for each player, soccer is positively individualistic.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Kim du Toit made the argument several years ago that soccer is actually one of the most conservative sports around. The rules haven't really changed in decades, there's no draft to promote parity, teams can spend as much money as they want on the best players, and the bad teams drop to the junior league if they don't perform.

  • NotSure||

    "draft to promote parity" what does that mean ? that they can force players to play for a team ? Definitely not very conservative.

  • lurker||

    I think that is Red Rock's point - soccer doesn't have a draft; therefore soccer is a conservative sport.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    It just means that the worst teams in soccer aren't granted exclusive rights to negotiate with the top players coming out of college. There's actual free agency, not the bastardized version that American sports teams have.

  • Pete||

    teams can spend as much money as they want on the best players

    I'm guessing the big clubs won't be bothered too much by the new financial fair play rules.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    As we always point out, since when do large corporate entities give a shit about taxes and regulations, when they have the resources to find ways to get around them?

  • Rhywun||

    > teams can spend as much money as they want on the best players

    That's changing soon in Europe - but I think only to the extent that the hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that every major team carries will be frowned upon. The top teams will remain unstoppable as always.

  • NotSure||

    I don't see how this could ever be implemented, even if the Eurocrats make an explicit decree that there is salary cap, the clubs will have a million ways to funnel the extra cash to the best players.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The top teams will remain unstoppable as always.

    Yup. Only 3 teams have won the English Premier League since 1995.

  • robc||

    Thats better than the Scottish Premier League.

    When's the last time a non-Glasgow team won the league?

  • NotSure||

    When William of Wallace was still alive.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    I think when Ferguson was at Aberdeen. So like 1984 maybe.

  • Brett L||

    I miss KdT, apropos of nothing.

  • Rhywun||

    Because it's European - duh.

  • Apatheist||

    I agree with you except for the effect of the manager. First, a good manager with can make a huge difference through tactics, formations, substitutions and motivation. Secondly, in Europe the manager isn't just a coach but is also what in America we call the General Manager. A good manager not only knows how to set up a good system but also how to pick players within their budget to fit into that system.

  • Apatheist||

    I should add that the NFL is probably the most similar here (definitely setting up a system and the most famous coaches have a lot of control over the business side as well) and baseball is the least similar (General Managers are often more important than the head coach).

  • Ted S.||

    Why else has Jose Mourinho been a success everywhere he's gone?

    If Abramovich hadn't driven Anders Frisk out of the game, Mourinho would have won a CL at Chelsea. But thanks to Abarmaovich, Chelsea deserves to get screwed by the refs every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

  • ||

    The "manager" as you describe him is only really universally true in the Home Nations, maybe France to some degree. Even then, at a lot of clubs, the assistant runs the technical day-to-day shit like practices and a lot of the tactics, while the manager does more GM-like stuff and takes all the camera time and credit on matchday.

    Most other leagues have a bunch of personnel to cover those roles in varying ways. Latin teams (incl. the New World) tend to have a head guy who is more focused on technical stuff (DT). Still others are Jose Mourinho-style geniuses who (try to) do absolutely everything.

  • NotSure||

    In most countries soccer is most definitely not associated with being gay, often, like the recent Egypt soccer tradegy, it attracts the unruly and petty thugs.

    I like cricket, which I imagine in America would make me beyond even gay though.

  • Most of America||

    We can't really consider it gay if we don't know it exists.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    As they say in England: Soccer is a sport for gentlemen played by thugs. Rugby is a sport for thugs played by gentlemen.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The sweaters they wear in the 4 day game don't help, but any game where hurling a ball 90 mph at someone's head is an accepted tactic isn't going to attract many sissies.

  • NotSure||

    The sweaters are not mandatory, if you are fielding the whole day, which is not normally overly exerting, it can get cold.

  • robc||

    Of course, the Aussies got bodyline bowling banned in the 30s (20s?).

  • robc||

    With that statement, I used up approximately 50% of my cricket knowledge.

    But the bodyline incident is pretty interesting.

  • BakedPenguin||

    IIRC, it's limited to 1 or 2 in 6 deliveries.

  • kiwi dave||

    IIRC, it's limited to 1 or 2 in 6 deliveries

    The limit is for short-pitched bowling (also known as bouncers). Actual bodyline bowling -- directing non-bouncing deliveries intentionally at the body, is not allowed per se.

  • Brett L||

    Right. Just like baseball. Nolan Ryan could put his fastball anywhere he wanted 99 times out of 100. That other one time always seemed to be directed at someone's earhole. It was uncanny.

  • KDN||

    Nolan Ryan could put his fastball anywhere he wanted 99 times out of 100

    More like 40% of the time. If Ryan had any semblance of control he would have been the greatest pitcher of all time.

  • NotSure||

    Actually the bowling of bouncers is still allowed, it was shocking for the day because it was seen as unsporting. The Australians were just grumpy because the English refused to simply let them dominate them in the batting.

  • robc||

    Its allowed, but not as a strategy.

    You can bounce the occassional ball into a batters head, but not repeatedly.

  • NotSure||

    One per over, and even then the bowler will ocassionly bowl the second, conceding the no ball but intimidating the batsman. It certainly is a strategy, which Australia today also happily utilises.

  • robc||

    On a related note, I wonder how a cricket bowler would do on acid.

  • Jumbie||

    Former cricket bowler/acid user here.

    Anything specific you want to know?

    Acid was fun, but was not conducive to athletic pursuits, so I doubt I would've played a good game.

    Also, deliveries to the head are getting the press, but we bowlers always get more mileage out of the ones to the ribs. Harder for the batter to counter and just as painful without the guilt of possibly inflicting brain damage.

  • robc||

    I was making a Dock Ellis reference.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I think he was referring specifically to Dock Ellis' electric no-hitter.

  • Jumbie||

    Holy fuck!

    I haven't laughed that hard in months.

  • kiwi dave||

    The sweaters they wear in the 4 day game don't help.

    Test matches are five days. At one point, they did not have fixed limits; they gave up on that after a 12-day match in Durban in 1939, when England and SA called it quits because otherwise the English would miss their boat home.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I was thinking of the domestic league matches. At least in the UK, they're 4 days.

  • kiwi dave||

    This is true -- English County Championship games are four days. First class domestic matches in most countries are either three or four.

  • Ted S.||

    Why do they call the five-day games Test matches, but they don't call the one-day games Quiz matches?

    And don't get me started on TweNtytWenTy, or whatever bizarre combination of letters and numbers they call the ultra-quick game.

  • Tony||

    So there's like some sporting event happening during Madonna's performance this weekend?

  • MNG||

    I actually like some of MAdonna's music but I have little desire to see her perform live. She doesn't play any instruments or anything, it's just a choreography number.

    Now when Prince performs live, that's worth seeing.

  • el Commentariosa||

    Madonna with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica maybe?

  • Brother Grimm||

    And a tricked out walker.

  • ||

    ""Seeing your favorite sport through political filters is no way to while away your weekends, Gillespie writes, and it is a real buzz kill when it comes to enjoying athletics.""

    Partisan politics is all the rage. Some people live for it. They leave their TV on their favorite 24 hour news channel and listen to their favorite political talk show(s) in the car. It consumes them.

  • ¢||

    We politicize just about everything these days, which is surely one of the reasons why

    liber(al)tarian claims that we're freer than EVAR are "thin" and stupid.

    pro wrestling is teh truz conservative sport.

    Its audience appears to be tied for second most Democrat-leaning, after the WNBA, which only David Stern watches.

    I blame Morrissey-loving cholos.

  • Almanian||

    Morrissey-loving cholos

    Surely that's an oxymoron?

  • T||

    I'll have to poll the cholo contingent among my coworkers and get back to you. I can't imagine many, but you never know.

  • MANGO PUNCH||

    As a teenage, mostly non-practicing heterosexual libertarian regularly accused of being gay and communist simply for playing soccer in the 1970s, Nick Gillespie...

    ...So Gillespie wouldn't be a libertarian if anti-bullying laws had been around in the 1970s?

  • Almanian||

    Anti-bullying laws are gay

  • ||

    Sounds like a rock solid plan to me dude.
    www.surfing-anon.tk

  • Almanian||

    Anono-surfing is the TRUE man's sport

  • ||

    I like to point out to people that I think the officiating in NBA playoff games is rigged, but that I understand if they don't come to the same conclusion. The number of arguments I've been in where people refuse to concede that I even have a legitimate argument, much less whether I'm actually right, reinforces to me the inevitability of the "Go Team Red/Go Team Blue/Screw The Facts" death spiral we're in.

  • ||

    You will never convince me that Donogee or whatever his name was was acting alone. They have cell phone records that show he would call this one other ref immediately after the games he admitted to fixing and no other times.

    There were so many fishy games in the early 00s. The 2002 Lakers Kings series, the 2001 Bucks 76ers just to name two of the more obvious ones. Basketball is so easy to fix with a referee. Just a few calls either way and that is it.

    The NBA totally covered that up. I don't believe anything that happened from about 96 to about 06 was legit.

  • ||

    Not sure if you remember, but that was only about the 5th-worst call in that game. There was three-minute stretch early in the fourth where a Hornacek 3-pointer was waved off for a shot clock violation when the ball was in fact on the downward arc when the buzzer went off, then a few possessions later, Ron Harper shot a three where his feet hadn't even left the court when the buzzer sounded, but they called it good (and no, it wasn't one of his famous set-shots.)

  • ||

    Grr. Responded to wrong John post. See below.

  • ||

    The whole game was a joke. They knew the strike was coming. They knew Jordan was probably going to retire. So the fix was in. Make sure Chicago wins this series. Chicago was really old by then. They were on their last legs. They probably didn't have enough left to win a 7th Game. They had been taken to 7 games by the Pacers in the series before that. IT was win game 6 or else.

  • ||

    Especially since Stern took over, years ago. Something just hasn't smelled right about the league since then, whether it's the star-player system (along with star-player officiating) or oddly called penalties.

  • el Commentariosa||

    or over-ruled trades.

  • ||

    Yes, that sort of thing.

  • robc||

    That might be worth it just to watch the Lakers be the 2nd team in their building for a while.

  • ||

    To me the NBA died when Michael Jordan blatantly pushed off to hit the shot to win the finals against Utah. It wasn't so much that it was a bad call. Bad calls happen. It was that it was a bad call and no one cared. I was neither a Chicago nor a Utah fan. So it didn't matter to me who one. But it drove me crazy to see how no one cared that Jordan just cheated to win.

    In a real sport that no call would have been a scandal. If the Patriots win the weekend on some terrible no call, no one but die hard Patriot fans are going to go "but Tom Brady so great and isn't it wonderful that he threw the game winning pass on the Super Bowl?" Hell no. Such a play would go down in infamy and be an embarrassment to the league.

    But not in the NBA. In the NBA a guy winning a game on a bad call was not an embarrassing mistake but a great thing. The rules, the game's integrity didn't matter. What mattered was the star hit the shot that won the game. That is not sports, that is professional wrestling. Fuck the NBA.

  • robc||

    The Immaculate Reception is celebrated.

    Your point is invalid.

  • Fluffy||

    What's wrong with the Immaculate Reception?

  • ||

    That is different. That is a disputed call. Lots of people, most in fact, think it was a legit reception. No one claims Jordan didn't push off.

  • robc||

    Its not even remotely disputed, under the rules at the time it was not a catch.

  • ||

    I've never heard a single person say they thought that was a legit catch, including franco harris. That was a blatantly blown call, and one that was far more of a factor in a sport where you play one game rather than a seven game series.

  • ||

    Nobody cared because everyone pushes off to get open for shots in the NBA. That wasn't something new, that had been going on since the late '60s, and it's almost never called.

    People would have cared more if it had been the deciding moment of the series, but it wasn't. All it did was end the series one game early rathe than having the series head back to chicago where the bulls had thouroughly dominated the jazz in the series.

  • ||

    No. Not true. That shot was in Game 6. Game seven would have been played in Utah not Chicago.

    And it was more than your average push off. It was a mugging. It was the kind of foul that in earlier times would have been called. It was too blatant not to be called. But sometime in the late 1980s, the NBA became about stars not the game. So it wasn't called.

  • ||

    I agree that it should have been called. It was a pushoff. You're also correct about the league becoming about it's stars and actively allowing them to get away with things.

    I just find it odd that that moment is when that all came home to roost for you. That pushoff had not been being called for decades at that point.

  • ||

    It was called the 80s. I think the system started to come apart in the late 1980s when they let Pistons commit so many fouls that they just stopped calling them because if they officiated the game the Pistons wouldn't have any players who didn't foul out.

  • ||

    I think there's some truth to this. And Stern definitely allowed the already-incredibly-great Jordan to play under special rules (lots and lots and lots of walking in particular) that quickly evolved into "Let the marquee players play!"

  • ||

    The real point at which the NBA became a joke and an embarrasement was when they started allowing Shaq to elbow guys in the face to knock them out of the way to dunk, and then call fouls on the guys elbowed in the face.

    Without officials not only not calling his offensive fouls, but actually calling them fouls on the defense on EVERY SINGLE PLAY shaq wouldn't have lasted a week in the league. And he ushered in the era of the garbage player with no skills whatsoever that can be a superstar simply by running over and knocking down anyone in thier way and dunking.

  • ||

    I heartily agree Dan. Shaq could have never played in the 1960s and 70s. I want to vomit every time I hear some NBA hack talk about how Shaq was so hard to officiate. No he wasn't. It was only hard because the NBA didn't want him playing by the rules.

  • ||

    But..but..Shaq Attack!

  • ||

    So Kareem didn't just lower his shoulder, knock the defender over, and dunk over his corpse? Next thing you know, you'll tell me he could hit a one-handed shot from 8 feet out.

  • ||

    He was amazing. Especially in Airplane!

  • ||

    Hey you tell your old man to drag Walton and Linear up and down the court for 40 minutes a night.

  • ||

    The "star player system" is the result of expansion. There are too many teams to have teams full of great players like they used to.

    So everything gets focused on the one or two great players a team has. And since it's a union driven business just like all sports leagues, contracting teams isn't really an option.

  • ||

    Yes, Stern really screwed up the NBA. They over expanded and diluted and devalued their product.

  • Daniel||

    Bravo Mr. Cavanaugh,

    But why no reference to George F. Will's sports machine?

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/3519.....ts-machine

  • ||

    43-Man Squamish is the only sport for real men.

  • Almanian||

    Ya know, I hate to say this, but, Shorter Nicky:

    1) WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!

    2) Teh Jocks SZUCKZ!

    3) Truly I am protesting too much.

    My DAUGHTER plays rugby, ya pansy! Put The Jacket back on and resume your normal dominance, please!

  • ||

    Your daughter is a badass Almanian.

  • Almanian||

    OK, just one more:

    To paraphrase Dean Wormer, Awkward, gay and soccer-playing is no way to go through life, son.

    And I totally respect your toughness for opening yourself up for these kinds of gratuitous beatings.

  • Almanian||

    Last - you know who else liked soccer...

  • ||

    Wow that was a pretty awful article.

    First off you barely touch on what you claim the article is about in the title. It's mostly just a rant about how you don't feel soccer gets the respect it deserves.

    Secondly being faggy or boring or whatever else has nothing to do with politics.

    I'm not buying that people were calling you a commie because you played soccer as a kid. Sure they might have called you a queer, but that has nothing to do with politics.

    Overall...stupid article.

  • Fluffy||

    Shut up, Nazi.

  • ||

    I was called a communist for turning down the football coaches in high school and playing the game I had played since I was 3 years old. Grown men resorting to stupid, nonsensical insults...where have I seen that before?

  • ||

    Gillespie played soccer in the '70s? Now I know what the leather jacket is overcompensating for...

  • Fluffy||

    When I build a space station and use it to house my future master race, I am totally inviting Brady and Gisele.

    Also, the only league where the officiating is worth a damn is the NFL. In baseball the officiating is honest, but way, way too idiosyncratic. Umpires should not have personal strike zones. The NBA and NHL officials pretty openly play franchise favorites, player favorites, and change their officiating style based on the game situation, and that sucks.

  • KDN||

    Also, the only league where the officiating is worth a damn is the NFL.

    Low bar. There's still some outrageously terrible performances out there, though they do tend to be non-biased (the Jets / Eagles game this year was one of the worst refereed affairs I've ever seen, but since it had no impact on the final score and went both ways nobody cared).

    The NHL has gotten worlds better since Bill McCreary retired, he might have been responsible for 50% of all mentioned issues on his own. Hell, his shenanigans damn near cost the juggernaut 2001 Devils their series against Toronto.

  • ||

    I have to agree. That's a pretty low bar if you're using the NFL as your example of excellent officiating.

    They are very good at calling out of bounds plays, completions vs incompletions, etc. But that's only because those things are reviewable with replay. They still make tons of bad penalty calls and no calls.

    How many times have you seen a DE coming around the corner and grasping at the QB while being bent backwards by the arm around his neck, no call. How many times are offensive linemen blocking ten yards downfield before the ball is thrown on screen passes, no penalty there.

  • Fluffy||

    In the NHL a play that is a penalty in the 1st period is not a penalty in the third period, and a play that is a penalty when you are up two men is not a penalty at even strength.

    It's better than it was ten years ago, but the calls still depend on the game situation. Refs "give both teams a chance". That's not what the officials are supposed to do.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Nick, if you would ever take your nose out of Playgirl (and Shep Messing's jock), you'd know that the Rosenberg's HEART the Dodgers because of Jackie Robinson.*

    *The first black guy to play in the majors, of course.

  • Fluffy||

    Oh, I guess tennis officiating is pretty good, too.

    If only because just about any call that means anything can be overruled by the computer.

  • robc||

    I want balls and strikes in baseball to be called by computer.

  • Fluffy||

    This would go a long way towards making baseball's officiating perfect.

    Once that's done, all we really need is to get the umps to properly call safe and out at second base on steals and on double plays. Middle infielders get a lot of area calls that they shouldn't get. I'm not sure how to get the computer to call that, though, so we're stuck with humans for the time being.

  • wareagle||

    I would settle one a single strike zone, not one that varies from ump to ump or from league to league.

  • ||

    The baseball strike zones are ridiculous. They radically changed the game without anyone having a say but lazy ass union umpires.

  • Fluffy||

    My only real question is how accurate the strike zone meter used in some TV broadcasts is. If that shit is actually working, turn balls and strikes over to the computer NOW.

  • robc||

    They are using a more advanced version to JUDGE officials now. It is deadly accurate (at least compared to humans).

    I say put it in rookie league this year and move it up a level every year, so that it reaches the majors in about 5 years.

    That will get a lot of players and umps used to working with it and let any minor kinks get worked out down on the farm.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Tennis officiating blows. You have 20 seconds between serves! 20 fucking seconds. Not 30, not 40, 20! Fucking Nadal and Djokovic toweling off, picking ass, bouncing ball 80 times between every point. AGHHH RAGE! Oh, and no on court coaching allowed. Do you hear that Uncle Toni?

  • robc||

    That seems pretty minor. Thats like complaining about umps not calling catchers for blocking the plate without the ball.

  • ||

    I don't know I find the tennis "shot spot" thing kind of sketchy. It's never felt right to me since they've started using it.

    Why are they giving me a CGI movie? How do I know the CGI representation is accurate of if it's just some guy up in the booth flipping a coin.

  • Ted S.||

    It isn't right.

    If you watch clay court tennis, you'll know the ball leaves a mark when it hits the ground. Several times during the course of the match, the chair umpire will come down from the chair and inspect the mark to determine whether the ball landed in or out. 99% of the time this will mollify both players.

    Sometimes, the call the umpire makes doesn't agree with what Shit Spit claims the ball did (but it's not used on clay courts because of the mark). However, I've heard idiot announcers (Pat McEnroe, I'm talking to you) claim when the computer guess disagrees with the umpire's call that the umpire called the wrong mark. Because the computer guess could never possibly be wrong.

    There's actually a case where the pretty picture disagreed with the in or out call [pauses to look it up]: Vaidisova v. Kudryavtseva, US Open 2007.

  • Jumbie||

    I figured adolescent Gillespie for a gay commie before I found out he played soccer.

  • ||

    Is it just me or is Giselle Budchen just not all that? She is not unattractive. But I see two or three Washington Coeds a day who look just as good or better. I really don't see why people think she is some raving beauty. She kind of has funky eyes and facial structure.

  • Brett L||

    She is definitely a hardbody. I saw some lingere photo of her the other day where you could see all of abs, but not all of her ribs.

  • ||

    I'm with you on that John. There are way hotter models out there.

  • ||

    I would take the T-Mobile girl all day over Budchen.

  • ||

    Oh, yeah, baby.

  • ||

    I would take Kate Upton over every. single. model. on. earth.

  • ||

    Revealing. A pouty, leather jacket wearing, effeminate wanna-be that desparately wants to be like the bigger boys.

    Suspicions confirmed, you are free to vote Obama again.

  • ||

    Nonpracticing heterosexual - pretty damn funny. Except, it's not that funny for married guys like me.

  • ||

    I practiced constantly as a teenager. Doesn't everyone?

  • ||

    At last, we have a long needed, fresh perspective on the nature of soccer!

    For a new century, I think we should break thru the stereotypes, and re-access the sport.

    And I have come to the conclusion, upon further review, that soccer is STILL faggy and Communist!

  • Not a Yank||

    The fact is, association football is 100% more capitalist than the socialist crap you yanks call sports.

    The NBA/NFL/MLB/NHL/NGDSwhatever are collectivist organizations with massive regulations

    International (association) football, has freer and more capitalist contracts and associations.

  • Tucci78||

    Mr. Gillespie, I would never accuse you "of being gay and communist simply for playing soccer".

    Guatemalan, maybe, but never "gay and communist".

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