February 17, 2007

Two More Things I Just Don't Get

These are strange times.

The Huskers haven’t run an option play in about 4 years. The Kansas State Wildcats are suddenly pretty good at basketball. George Mason made a Final Four. The Detroit freaking Tigers made it to the World Series. T he NHL is shown exclusively on a TV network called “Versus”. Howard Stern makes 800 million dollars a year and is married to a super model.


Well this week, I found a couple more things to add to the list; two things that I find not only uninteresting, but so incredibly boring that I’d rather clean all the toilets in the Civic Auditorium with my tongue than watch either of them. Of course, I’m talking about everybody’s favorite niche sports: NASCAR and amateur wrestling. Both of which have dominated the front page of the sports sections this week.

I’ve said it several times in this space about music, and it’s no different really in sports. I don’t care what you like or what you don’t like. I don’t care who you follow or who you obsess over. I don’t care if you’re reading this while wearing a $1,000 Dale Junior jacket, or if you just got done rolling around on a mat in a puddle of sweat with one of your closest teammate, you can’t make me find either one of these sports interesting.

Trust me on this, I’ve tried to like NASCAR. Seriously, it looks great on TV, and the season lasts pretty much all year round. There is absolutely no reason that a person shouldn’t think it is at the very least, interesting. However, despite several attempts, I just can't get that far.
First off, if you get lapped, you should be forced to leave the track. It’s hard enough to follow an object going 200mph, let alone weaving in and out of a bunch of losers who can’t cheat well enough to be on the lead lap. Second, lose the southern influence. Yes, I understand it blossomed in the south and the odds of doing so are infinity. But the fact that Skoal, Wrangler and Red Man ads are abound, as well interviews with drivers that make Larry the Cable Guy sound like George Plimpton is a real turnoff to normal people.

They say you need to actually be at a race to appreciate it so you can “feel the experience.” Again, I have no problem with modern machinery being able to propel rednecks around an asphalt track at 220mph, but to me, I can sit on the side of the Kennedy Freeway and see the same thing. (With fewer ads) And stop acting like I “don’t get it”. Stop trying to push forward your agenda, your skoal bandits, your Richard Petty, your Winston smokes, your Johhny Walker and your constant references to what a great sport it is. It’s not a sport, it’s a spectacle, and there’s a big difference. Rest assured this will be the last time you ever hear me comment on NASCAR. I nearly fell asleep just writing five paragraphs on it.

I look at wrestling the same way. And no, I’m not talking about WWE and all that crap, because to me that’s not even in the same stratosphere as what I’m talking about. No, I’m talking about high school and college kids, rolling around with each other for 9 minutes at a time, all in the name of competition.

Look, I’m not about to tell you that these guys aren’t athletes, because they certainly are. Anybody who played high school sports, knew some of these guys, and they literally kill themselves to get in outstanding shape. They’re tougher as nails and stronger than probably 99% of their athletic counterparts in other sports. However, being pressed against another dude in a unitard, and trying to spin him around or push him to the ground isn’t exactly something I want to watch or participate in. And no, that’s not homophobic, it’s a matter of personal preference. I don’t really care if two dudes roll around in sweat in the privacy of their own apartment, but to actually sit and watch it? I think I’ll pass.

Like NASCAR, wrestling fan/athlete is extremely defensive. Almost to the point of being downright indignant about it. They’ll quickly tell you that you don’t understand the sport, couldn’t possibly appreciate the raw beauty of it blah blah blah.

The bottom line is this: In an age of 800 ESPN networks showing dog show, paintball and various other events that make NASCAR and wrestling look appealing, we are bound to find niche audiences. However, when the front page of CNN.com for three days is NASCAR related, and 17,000 people fill a giant arena in Omaha…I think we’ve reached a point where we need to call this what it is. The world is simply going to hell, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Enjoy the ride.

* I had a Mike Kemp rant all ready to go, but I simply lost the stomach for it. In keeping with the theme of the day, with up being down, black being white, and NASCAR being huge news, the Mavs decided to go the opposite of retro last night in their visit to the Civic. With it’s rat-infested interior and snot-coated walls, the Civic once hosted a gritty hockey team with little talent but tons of heart. Guys with no business being on division one ice, used to bust their ass up and down the rink, at least giving their multitudes of fans something to cheer about in defeat. The current team is in fact, very much the exact opposite of those days.

Lazy passing, little-if-any movement without the puck and horrible horrible coaching adjustments have turned this team into one of the most underachieving squads in the country. I’m well aware of the fact that UNO cannot do anything about the program until they at least get an Athletic Director. However, the fact remains that I was right all along for the past few years. Players simply aren’t listening to what the current coaching staff is telling them.

I could be wrong, and this team could go on some run during the playoffs, because they certainly have the talent. But if they hold serve and play the way they have all year, you can expect yet another first round exit and another year of “wait til next year.”

Perhaps there’s a hockey version of the NIT they can get into?


* Big 12 hoops are coming down to the wire in one of the strangest seasons I can remember. Teams that appear to be pulling away from the pack, suddenly lose to teams they have no business losing to. K-State beats Texas on the road, and then gets beat by Nebraska…who was crushed the week before by KU, who got upset by Texas Tech who was thumped by Missouri who lost to Iowa State at home.

Got that?

Point is, you really can’t count on anything as we roll into March. As you know I’m terrible at predictions, but I’d think this is the year we’re going to see some serious upset runs both in Oklahoma City, as well as the NCAA’s. When you look at the standings, any of the top 7-8 teams have a shot of coming out on top.

You think I hate everything? Not true. March Madness is one of the best times of the year, bar none…especially with all of the games in HD and free online. Why the hell can’t the guys who write the Big 12 football TV contract take note? Idiots.


Blogger Husker Mike said...

Two takes on the Mavs last night; they mailed in the first 50 minutes. Kemp deserves part of the blame for it for sure. But I do give Kemp credit for having the balls to pull Dupont with 4 minutes to go to set up a 5 on 3 power play. A lot of coaches would have played it safe in that situation...

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only reason the Qwest is getting filled for wrestling is because the state tournament is happening this weekend. All those people are mainly friends and family and outside of that I doubt there are a ton of "neutral" pure wrestling fans. Regarding NASCAR though I totally agree. If I was driving I would find it more appealing but who wants to sit in the stands and watch cars drive around in a circle for 500 miles.

About the Big 12 I find it promising that the conference is so diverse and competitive. That spells good news for Nebraska (and possibly Missouri) for the conference tournament and maybe beyond.

1:18 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

True and true.

And I hear ya on Kemp's 5 on 3 Mike. That was a very Crazy Frank thing to do. But when you look at it..he didn't have much choice.

Very dissapointing season.

PS - But good win for Mizzou today. What the hell happened to Okie State?

3:03 PM  
Anonymous tb said...

so aj, are we going to get another "i'll take total humiliation for $400" after that stellar performance by doc's boys today?

6:24 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

I got bashed when I did that earlier...and the reason I did it was because I expected a better showing by NU at home. (Not a 43-8 defecit).

Losing to KU by 53 on the road..however extremely funny...isn't really that shocking. KU is very very good, but can be beat. (Mizzou only lost by 3 at KU) However, I'm not exactly shocked by the outcome.

It is damn funny though. (Especially since Creighton lost as well.)

9:57 AM  

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