Yesterday was an early contender for the best sports day of 2012. There was a fantastic amount of action to be consumed on television, whether it was the surprising amount of close bowl games, outdoor hockey, or even my new-found guiltiest pleasure in life—the free preview of NBA League Pass which lasts until January 8th. I even slipped in a couple of replays of English Premier League soccer for good measure.
As I sat there flipping furiously through the channels yesterday afternoon–somewhere in the time right before the Rose Bowl–it hit me. This is a sports revelation that is going to blow your mind. Read no further if you find yourself unwilling or unable to have your life philosophy completely altered. Ready?
Sports are a hundred thousand times more enjoyable to watch when you have absolutely zero rooting interest in the games.
It struck me some time in between watching a Philadelphia Flyer earn, and eventually miss, a penalty shot with 19 seconds left in the Winter Classic and watching Mark Richt completely bungle a very winnable overtime against Michigan State. I don’t know why I did it, but I tried to imagine putting myself in the shoes of a Rangers fan or a Flyers fan after that very questionable call and the sneaking suspicion that Gary Bettman had ordered it up David Stern-style. And the ensuing nineteen seconds were no doubt among the longest any of those fans has experienced. It couldn’t have possibly been enjoyable to experience that stress. And there I was, smiling on my couch without a single team going in any sport. It was glorious.
Then there was the matter of Georgia intercepting a Michigan State pass to start overtime. You know how this drill works. Your team scores and the ball game is over. You accomplish this by at least trying to get one first down to make life easier on your kicker. Except Mark Richt apparently trusts his quarterback less than the Denver Broncos trust Tim Tebow to throw the football. Georgia called for a run on first down, had their guy center the ball on second down, and then trotted out their kicker on third down to boot a 42-yarder for the win. This kicker was 19 for 31 on the year. He of course missed and Georgia would go on to lose the game in heart-breaking fashion in three overtimes when, and you’re never going to believe this, their kicker had his attempt blocked. I would have died if I was a Georgia fan. I would have immediately taken to facebook to slam Mark Richt and wonder about a season that should have been. For those who have forgotten by now, Georgia was supposed to be a national championship contender this year. Instead I laughed and flipped the channel.
Next up was the Rose Bowl where Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema extended his streak to two consecutive years of losing a Rose Bowl due to Andy Reid-like mental errors. For those who may have forgot, Bielema wasted several time outs last year in the second half against TCU that ultimately cost them, but his biggest blunder by far came when he called for a pass on a two point conversion attempt that would have tied the game. Wisconsin had been gaining at least six yards per attempt during the game against a smaller TCU defense that couldn’t handle the Badgers’ size. Bielema promptly called for a pass that was blocked by TCU linebacker Tank Carder to win the game. This year was no exception. Bielema wasted two timeouts before five minutes had transpired in the third quarter, one of which was especially bad in trying to get the officials to review a touchback. Well wouldn’t you know it, the Badgers could have used a couple of timeouts as they drove the field in the final minute of the game. They ultimately lost when Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson couldn’t spike the ball in time with :02 remaining. Once again, if I’m a Wisconsin fan I would have gone to bed all pissing and moaning about my head coach’s incompetence. Instead I laughed again and waited for the Fiesta Bowl.
And finally there was the Fiesta Bowl, which put the cap on a day of questionable coaching decisions. Let’s say your the head coach of a college football program. Let’s say you find yourself in the Fiesta Bowl. Let’s say you’re in overtime. And finally let’s say you have the greatest talent at quarterback in the last fifteen years on your squad. You let him go out there and win you the game, right? Wrong! If your Stanford coach David Shaw, you hand the ball off twice for no gain and then leave your all-universe QB hung out to dry on third down. How do you not have Andrew Luck throwing there, at least on second down? How do you not trust him to win you the game on a night in which he was 27/31? Ridiculous, all of it. But somehow it was enjoyable because again, I had no rooting interest. I dwelled on the game for approximately zero seconds and read a book until I went to sleep.
This all may sound groundbreaking, or it might not.
I think I’m onto something though.
Generation Y, where I actually think the Broncos are going to win and would like to apologize in advance for the ESPN firestorm that will ensue as a result.