Monday, February 02, 2009


This might be the most burned out on sports I've been in recent memory. Granted, I was pulling for the Cards, so that probably made me even more reluctant to read the game wrap-ups and usual laudatory afterbirth passing through the Web canal. But a greater sense of football weariness is definitely there, Steelers victory or not. Two weeks ago I was lamenting the quick passing of pigskin season. Now I'm fanning myself, a cold compress on my forehead, glad to see it go.

More and more, I think that postseasons are becoming less significant, even anticlimactic, because more time is spent in the 24/7 sports journo universe hyper-analyzing what's already happened and trying to predict what's yet to happen, squeezing out the here and now. When an actual game occurs, it often seems lumpy and imperfect — even boring — given the propaganda surrounding it. Plus, with another week of matches on the horizon, analysts quickly sail off toward what surely, positively will be football perfection next time.

Applied to a full season, it seems network talking heads can't wait for things to end before they can begin next year's predictions. And with 31 of 32 teams out of luck, more viewers have experienced losing seasons and very much want to hear about the future: the draft, the new schedule, off-season concerns. Media coverage feeds into this, so much so that, lately, the actual outcomes of games and seasons seem more inconsequential or, worse, unscripted. With so much energy devoted to speculation about what should/could happen, when that doesn't happen, it seems we've been slighted in some way — at least in the eyes of experts who lament that "the better team lost" or "it's all about who gets hot late." (Conversely, you could celebrate the fact that life rarely goes according to script — and if it did, what a terribly bland life it would be.)

There also is a recent tendency in 24/7 sport culture to immediately crown a just-played championship game "the greatest ever" or a play in that game "the greatest play ever" less than a day after it's occurred. It happened last year with David Tyree and this year with Santonio Holmes. It's almost as if the networks feel their lavish coverage (witness NBC's this year) automatically equals a historic game. "Greatest" talk is admittedly good grist for the mill because it generates strong discussion, but history is something that shakes out over time, and these instant coronations seem to cheapen championships even further, they're applied so liberally.

Well, I'm looking forward to using February to heal up from football overload. I might peek at the NBA and college basketball a little, but I won't strain myself. Maybe there's a reason football season is so brief. For the players, it's because their bodies can't take any more punishment. For the fans, it's because we can't take any more publicity. Phew.

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