Saturday, January 07, 2006

USC vs. Texas Revisited

The reason I say revisited is because by now, everyone knows and has discussed the fact USC lost to Vince You-err-the University of Texas 38-41. I thought about writing this that night, but I was upset and thought it unwise. But I was upset for two reasons that most Trojan fans probably were not. I am not, for full disclosure, a Trojan fan even though I was pulling for their victory. And it is not that I am somehow anti-Texas. My father was a Texan (or still is?) and he has told me stories about the importance of football in that state. I am one to appreciate tradition and have a personal passion for football, so I have nothing but respect for such storied programs.

My frustration has less to do with the outcome (even though I predicted to many a 24 point win by USC) as with the system that surrounds college football. First, I have an utter disdain for the replay system. Secondly, the entrenched East Coast Bias that dominates all sports.

The replay system is the antithesis of all sports. However, it is even more detrimental to scholastic competition. The concept of being a student athlete is twofold:

  1. Character building
  2. Possibility of opening up future doors; be it for college or professional

I want to focus solely on the first concept. Part of becoming a man (or woman) is learning about life. One of the most difficult, but most rewarding lessons concerning life is how unfair it can be. It can deal out the greatest events one can experience (such as the recent birth of my nephew!), but can also be cruel and punishing. There will be a time in everyone's life when they are right, but told they are wrong by those in authority. This will happen when interacting with their parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, and more specifically, referees. How is instituting replay going to teach young men this harsh reality? The only way I see that happening is when the "gods" in the press box decide not to review a touchdown that will hurt the West Coast team.

Sports should also be about human achievement and error. The game, whatever that may be, will never be perfect and nor should it. It is a game played by imperfect vehicles, attempting to maximize their abilities and prove their dominance over their opponent. There is simply nothing more glorious than this human passion. Yet, we want to take error completely out of the game. Adversity? Nonexistent. Unfair calls? Make it a thing of the past. Life lesson? Becoming a better person cannot compete with winning.

The other thing I cannot get past is the East Coast Bias that is obvious in most walks of American life, but really shows during sporting events. Los Angeles dealt with a Northern California bias throughout most of California history, so Southern Californians know what it feels like to be neglected politically and socially. But my more conspiratorial side wonders if Texas was given that touchdown where Vince Young's knee clearly was down before he pitched the football because the officials simply wanted to see USC lose. Although that is probably a bit of a stretch, I really do believe the West Coast will always be neglected from serious talk in college football, as well as all sports. My hope was to see a third straight national championship title break this bias up.

Outside of my petty frustrations, it was one of the best contests I have ever seen. Both teams really proved they were the two best in the nation and both teams could easily have won the game. Vince Young proved he was the MVP of Division IA college football, and possibly even the man who should have won the Heisman. I believe football is one of the great products of American culture. It builds character and helps young men become physically and mentally tough individuals. It is a product that is worth defending and worth agonizing over. So, cheers to the Longhorns. They deserve the great national spotlight.


Blogger Mike said...

When I saw that the game was going to be officiated by Big Ten officials, I knew we were in for some controversy. They are the worst in the NCAA. Being a Penn State fan, I should know. ABC showed a statistic on instant replay once and it showed the Big Ten officials get overuled by instant replay more than any other conference. Beyond that, they commonly exhibit indecision and poor organization on the field. So I was not one bit surprised when they allowed the play to continue after Young's knee hit the ground. And I was not one bit surprised when they stood around looking at themselves instead of calling for a replay.

Having got that rant out of the way, I think it is more important they get the call right rather than teach the kids that life isn't always fair. There are other areas in football where kids can learn that lesson. The emphasis should be on keeping the attention off the officials and getting the call correct.

6:27 AM  

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