Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Good For the Game" Means "Good for an Article"

I've run into this several times in the sports media: writers making a claim about their personal feelings, then claiming that it's "good for the game". A particularly egregious article cited things that are "good for baseball". Over the last few weeks, I've noticed a real spike in the same bullshit claim about college football's major teams doing well being "good for the game" from Dennis Dodd and HatGuy. Overall, these guys just like to make claims and say that they're somehow good for some kind of abstract notion of "the game".

I think it's some kind of stupid nostalgia for college football as it has been. That way, writers can keep writing about the dynasties that keep the storied traditions alive, instead of actually having to research the emerging traditions at new programs. Plus, articles about Boise State, no matter how many games they win or how blue their turf is, are never going to generate as many hits as articles about Notre Dame. Even when Boise state has won 35 regular-season games and a BCS bowl over the last three years.

Peter Shrager from FoxSports.com has this to say about the resurgent seasons of Notre Dame, Michigan and Miami. Its core point is precisely what's been circling the sportswriting world: that it's good for the game if these three teams have successful seasons. Since the article is pretty long, I've picked out the most annoying parts of it:

Across the board, the three traditional powerhouses are more than just coming around, they're making waves.

Nice writing there. Clever use of idiom.

Love the three programs or hate them, they're good for college football. A relevant, competitive Michigan is better than a scandal-ridden, bottom of the Big Ten Michigan. Even an Ohio State fan would tell you that.

Why? I don't follow. If Michigan were to go bad, couldn't some other team in the B10 rise into the power vacuum? Is a bad Northwestern team good for the Big Ten?

Is the contrapositive to this proposition true as well? If we accept that "powerhouses doing well is good for the game" is true, does that mean that "non-powerhouses doing typically poorly is good for the game"?

And why does it only apply to college football? I can't wait till Peter Schrager's next column about the NCAA Basketball Tournament, where he explains that higher seeds winning every game in the tournament is Good For The Game.

If Notre Dame wasn't "back" after its strong showing in Ann Arbor a week ago, it certainly is knocking on the door after Saturday.

You are an idiot, Mr. Schrager. Notre Dame barely lost to an average Michigan team and almost lost to a below average Michigan State team which, the week before, demonstrated an inability to clear the mighty hurdle of the Central Michigan Chippewas.

The Irish are better than last year but they aren't knocking on any kind of door. Unless it's a new coach's door, hopefully.

Either way, Notre Dame matters again. And that's good.

Both of those statements are presented in short, declarative sentences as though they are indisputable. Both of those sentences are disputable - if not outright false.

Again, like 'em or hate 'em, having Michigan matter is a good thing for the game.

Why? I liked last year when Michigan didn't matter. It was great! Football was still fun to watch!

Regarding Miami's victories over GT and FSU:

The crazy part? They could just be getting started. Up ahead on the schedule, the 'Canes travel to Blacksburg for a 3:30 p.m. EST affair with defending ACC champion Virginia Tech on Saturday. Win that one? Miami's a top-five team. Then, the 'Canes get Oklahoma at home the following Saturday after that. Win that affair and Miami has not only a top-three team in the nation, but also the inside track on a BCS title game berth.

Again, Mr. Schrager, saying something in a short, declarative sentence does not enhance its truth value. Unless they absolultely slaughter VT and a team or two loses, Miami's probably not going to jump into the top 5.

Also, I don't think any of this is logically sound. The ACC champ is still going to get left out if the Big 12 and SEC champs go undefeated, so they don't have any sort of "inside track". Plus, this is the sort of breathless speculation that makes me ill.

Getting ahead of myself?




But don't tell quarterback Jacory Harris and the rest of the young Hurricanes that.

You just did.

Three weeks into the season, the U looks as good as any team in the nation. And yes, that includes their intrastate rivals, the No. 1 Florida Gators.

I don't know how good GT and FSU will turn out to be, but I'm pretty sure the U is not riding the nation's longest winning streak.

And whether you like the three powerhouse programs or not, that's good for college football.


I'm all for the South Floridas and Boise States of the world making runs at BCS titles,

No, you're not. The thesis of your article suggests exactly the opposite! You can't just say this!

but it makes for a better Saturday when the Michigan, Notre Dame and Miami games on TV actually mean something.


There's something right about it. Something natural.


There's something right, something natural about me kicking Peter Schrager in the nuts next time he prints something as stupid as this. It would be good for the game.


Anonymous said...

"If Notre Dame wasn't "back" after its strong showing in Ann Arbor a week ago, it certainly is knocking on the door after Saturday."

Love the circular logic. Michigan is "back" because it beat Notre Dame and Notre Dame is "back" b/c it barely lost to Michigan.

Anonymous said...

It's good for college football because these teams have lucrative tv contracts and bow contracts so they're going to be on tv and in the papers and other print media all the damn time. So, yeah, it probably IS good for the game to have these (over)exposed teams actually be competitive.

Anonymous said...

it wouldn't surprise me if miami jumped to 5. they jumped from 20 to 9 beating a GT team that fell all the way out of the rankings from 13 or 14.

Tonus said...

Silly dan-bob. Don't you get it? No one ever roots for the underdog! Therefore, it's good when the national powerhouses win all the time.

Chris W said...

In their haste to suckle at the teat of Tagliabue, journalists the world over have confused "good for ratings" with "good for the sport"

Chris W said...

Evidently how well a sport can draw casual fans who are only interested in gambling and manufactured storylines reflects the general enjoyment of the actual fans of the game

dan-bob said...

That's what I was going to say, CW.

"Good for the game" is not the same as "good for the business built around the game".

This includes TV ratings, sportswriters' articles, and god knows what other millions of people support themselves off the industries of sports.

Angelo said...

miami has looked better than florida so far this season. I think that's indisputable at this point. I believe miami will lose before florida, no doubt, but let's not use florida's winning streak to suggest they're playing better. Last year doesn't matter and the first two games on their schedule shouldn't even count as real games.

Biggus Rickus said...

I hate Florida more than Miami, so that's my disclaimer. Now, in what world is just getting by an unknown quantity in FSU and handling another unknown quantity in Ga. Tech proof positive that Miami is playing better than Florida, a team who has yet to be in danger of losing a game, albeit against inferior competition?

Angelo said...

I was basing it on watching the Miami games and the Florida highlights. For an (almost) unbiased comparison, see http://www.kiva.net/~jsagarin/sports/cfsend.htm