Conference Championship Hype Machine
Posted Jan. 15 at 10:34 AM
I have to admit that I’m something of a political junkie. I look forward to election results almost as much as I look forward to playoff football games (am I allowed to say that and still keep my job)? And if it wasn’t for presidential primaries and NFL football, I don’t think there would be anything to watch on television these days. Not because of the actual events themselves: The games only take a few hours each, and election results are tabulated in about the same timeframe. It’s the absurd hype that ruins the drama of both contests.
In short, there’s no way to live up to expectations that build up hour after hour, and day after day. If you don’t follow politics, all you have to do is watch ESPN discuss upcoming playoff games to get an idea of what news channels are like right now. Talking heads are yapping about all sorts of irrelevant minutiae, potential match-ups are hashed and rehashed to the point of absurdity. They are a few arguments, a little agreement, and predictions that often turn out to be wrong.
And for what? Half the games last weekend featured teams that definitely won’t be in the Super Bowl. The Jaguars and Seahawks are happy to have had good years, but they’re just a footnote in the story of the 2007-2008 season. All the talk about Romo and the Cowboys, or Marvin Harrison and the Colts basically just killed time until kickoff. None of it matters now.
It’s not so different on the political side. The two states that have had major voting events—Iowa and New Hampshire—have produced four winners across two political parties. At least half of those candidates won’t be running for President in November, and it’s possible that a candidate will emerge that didn’t win either of them. In fact, some guys (Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards, for example) are banking on just that scenario. So again, what was the point of all the discussion? To fill time? To create artificial drama that the results can never match?
I think trying to follow both at the same time has really hit the point home for me. We’re talking football here, so let me go with that example: Pre-game analysis throughout the week is hurting the games themselves. If fans are obsessed over Jessica Simpson and Mike Holmgren’s return to Green Bay, they’re missing out on the real issues and contests that make the game great. Sure, those are interesting stories, and they have a place in a pre-game show. But that show should be 30 minutes before kickoff, not three days.
Do we really need to see video of Colts’ standout Bob Sanders entering the stadium on gameday…twice? Do we really need the details of Tony Romo’s vacation? They don’t even get the right story most of the time. In Green Bay, the story was and will always be Brett Favre, but Ryan Grant deserved a lot of the credit for that victory. Most of the talk in New England centered on how effective the Jaguars’ running game would be…but it was David Garrard that kept the team in the game. And while I didn’t see all the pre-game shows, I don’t think anyone was saying much about Vincent Jackson or Amani Toomer on Sunday.
This weekend it will be more of the same. We’ll hear endless analysis about the four teams remaining (and how great a Green Bay- New England Super Bowl would be) but the actual games themselves will probably reveal different drama and compelling storylines. I just hope that the actual contests live up to the hype we have to endure.
Oh, and while there won’t be any Monday Night Football…there will be a Presidential debate that evening. Getcha popcorn ready.
Feel free to predict the winners and losers (in football and politics) below. You can also reach Michael Murillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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