Friday, November 16, 2012

Five Sports Things We Will Not Be Able To Explain To Our Kids

Well, I Guess These Things Happen
5) Tim Tebow.

I've seen the future of football. It's Johnny Manziel.

Manziel, for those of you who do not college indentured servant manchild football, is the 6'-1" 200-pound sophomore QB from Texas A&M. He's thrown for 2,780 yards as I write this, ran for another 1,014, and has accounted for 33 touchdowns in 10 games. And he is, in all likelihood, one of dozens of guys with the skill set of Run and Throw at an NFL caliber level, because the time-honored tradition of QB Does Not Have To Run will die in the next 5 to 10 years.

Here's the thing about Manziel; he can actually throw the football. Tim Tebow can not. That's all there is to say about it.

Which, of course, will not explain how we've endured several years of back and forth ESPN fappery and New York media overdrive.

Anyway... the statistics will end this. Fairly soon.

4) ESPN's domination of sports.

Think about it: every major league, every significant college sport, every event... all goes through the Mouse filter. Watching any sport without getting well and truly complicit with the network is close to impossible.

It's also not going to last.

Every household in America that has cable pays the Lemur up to $60 a year for the privilege of not watching the channel. Eventually, you are going to pay that money directly to the league, through their own broadband and dedicated channels, and get exactly what you want -- expert-level coverage that avoids most of the major timewaste and eyegougery.

Oh, and perhaps there might be a class-action lawsuit amongst those 60%+ of the audience that have been ponying up for air...

3) Rooting for teams.

Think about how sports have changed in your lifetime -- how tabloid coverage of individual athletes has exploded, how gambling on the outcomes have become something close to mainstream, and how fantasy sports has gone from seeming geek niche act to predominance.

Next, think about how short our collective attention span has gotten. Then, add in the increasingly weak sauce experience that is the in-stadium moment, the Road Fan phenomenon, and the general need to prioritize commitments...

And well, I'm just not seeing the long-term commitment of team over league, team over players, or team over bets.

It will take a long time -- decades, really -- and some dramatic moments of how things are no longer what they used to be (I'm seeing, say, an 80/20 road/home split for a playoff team playing an also-ran late in the year), but this is where we are going. Whether we like it or not...

2) Number Hate and/or Love.

In the past 10-20 years of sabermetrics and advanced stats, we've seen two movements. The first is a widespread push towards as many acronyms as you can stand, and the second is a knee-jerk reaction that anyone who might like such a thing is a  world-class dweeb.

Both, actually, have their merits.

But what's really going to happen over time is that the good stats will rise, the weak ones will fail, and we're all going to learn to get along. Or, at least, find something new to freak out about...

1) Boxing.

Not bloody enough, often enough or interesting enough in a world with actual options like MMA and other extreme sports, this sport is graying fast and failing to attract anything in the way of new customers. Add to that the inevitable concussion backlash, health overreaction to get concussions out of the game, then public distaste for the new safer game... and we'll see what's been a pretty dramatic slide turn into a step into an elevator shaft.

Add yours in the comments, if you are so moved...

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