This is the first "official" weekend without any NFL football on TV ( if you count the Pro Bowl) and as such, sports fans have an adjustment to make. What are football fans to do now that their favorite sport is in the offseason?
All I gotta say is life is bad for football fans used to sitting at home or in the sports bars on Sunday, looking at all the NFL games going on. Every game was life and death, and this season in particular ended on a particularly exciting note with the Giants' stunning run in the playoffs. Their upset of the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl pretty much has the NCAA tournament all beat as far as upsets and excitement is concerned.
But now it is over, and now reality sets in for fans at home that there just isn't much out there to watch. None of these sports are a real replacement for football. Here's a look at the options available right now to fans out there.
(1) College basketball. Honestly, who the hell cares about these guys. Sure, college basketball arenas can get pretty loud, and there are some good rivalries and interesting coaches who like to throw things onto the basketball court occasionally (ie. Bobby Knight). But you can watch college basketball any time. And none of the games really count until March, anyway, when the NCAA tournament starts. And so many upsets happen that it renders the whole regular season meaningless anyway. It's not as if people are going to be able to get home-court advantage in the playoffs if they do well in the regular season, because all the tournament games are on neutral courts. This is DEFINITELY not football.
(2) NBA basketball. Now, I love watching the NBA, but regular season basketball isn't exactly spell-binding entertainment. Talk about games that don't count: there are 82 games in the regular season. And the stakes are far lower, because most of the league gets into the playoffs! So who really wants to watch these tall guys sleepwalk through these meaningless regular season games in the afternoon? This is definitely not football.
(3) NASCAR. Now, NASCAR is a sport I love to watch. You've got big, open-air stadiums, anyone can win on any given Sunday, and the sports is loaded with good-old-boys. These races are usually held in the heart of football country in the Deep South. And FOX commentator Darrell Waltrip could fit right in with these NFL guys on the pregame shows any time.
But let's face facts, folks. The Sprint Cup goes on forever and ever, until November. And at the end of the day, all you're watching are cars going around a track. Figuring out pit strategy is no match for figuring out a coach's strategy in a game! There aren't any hot cheerleaders in NASCAR, either. At least in the NBA and college basketball you see young women waving pom-poms on the sidelines and kicking it up. Here, there's NOTHING.
To top it all off, there is rampant commercialism. You think the NFL was bad for commercialism? Check out NASCAR. All these race teams are sponsored to the hilt with ads all over their cars and their team uniforms. Even the championship trophy is named after a sponsor! It's the Sprint Cup you win! At least in the NFL they give you a trophy named after a legendary football coach. In NASCAR, they give you a trophy named after a cellphone company!!! Think about it.
This is definitely not football.
(4) Golf. This is not football. There are no cheerleaders, for one thing. Second of all, the crowds all hush up every time someone is about to tee off. No roar-of-the-crowds, nothing. Some sport this is for excitement. Besides, it goes on for four days, not three hours.
(5) Hockey. Ha ha ha.
I don't know why anyone would even want to watch any hockey game on any Sunday afternoon. This is a sport made for Saturday nights, not Sunday afternoons. And hockey is the sport that invented the meaningless regular season. Have you seen the audiences in these arenas during Sunday afternoon hockey games? They all look bored as all heck! It's worse than the bored NBA audiences in the afternoons. Let's face it, these NHL and NBA crowds look as if they are at these afternoon games only because football season is over and there's nothing better to do. Anyway, hockey is definitely not football, either.
(6) Arena football. Oh, boy. When you talk to fans about the sport that symbolizes all that sucks about the NFL off-season, it's this! Arena football is a second-rate parody of the real game, folks.
First of all, they play it in hockey arenas, so it seems like the game is out of place to begin with. It's like playing a hockey game on a football field (although that Pittsburgh-Buffalo outdoor game was pretty cool to watch).
Second of all, the field is only fifty yards, so the scoring is ridiculous. And nobody cares about these teams. Who cares about the Dallas Desperados or the Columbus Destroyers, or these other teams? Yes, there are cheerleaders, too, but the cheerleaders in the NFL are hotter and do better dance routines. And the players are only in this league because they didn't make it to the NFL and need somewhere to play. Even the CFL is better than this -- at least it's real football.
What a sad state of affairs for everyone involved with this second-class league. This is DEFINITELY not football, either, even if they call themselves a football league.
So those are the main options for people between now and baseball season. Now granted, baseball isn't football either, and that whole sport is in the tank anyway, but it at least looks like a sport that ought to be played on an afternoon. And sure, there are other sports that they show on weekends on TV -- like poker, and championship rodeo, and other junk. I guess there's soccer, but the big soccer games these days are all from outside North America, and usually they are shown early in the day here. Besides, the big day for English Premier League soccer is Saturday, not Sunday. So that's no use, either.
I guess there's championship curling, too, but who wants to see that. Boring.
Fans are in for a tough choice. For me, the best replacement out there is NASCAR, because I'm a big auto racing fan anyway. But it is not at all like the NFL and I know it as well as anyone. It's cars going around a track! If you want to see cars, all you need to do is look out your window at the street!!
College basketball is no good either. Sure, in the month of March the games get pretty important, but the CBS coverage of the NCAA tournament is getting to be a joke. Jim Nantz and the rest of these commentators are just annoying as hell. All of these commentators always act surprised when some team that they ignored all year wins in the NCAA tournament. And then they do the whole "One Shining Moment" thing at the end of the tournament, and it's all cliched and so sappy to watch. And who are these guys playing basketball anyway? Most of them are players you never heard of before and may never hear of again.
And the best players at that age level aren't even playing in the NCAA anyway. Instead, they've already declared NBA eligibility and are hooping it up in the NBA (LeBron James). And lots of emerging NBA talent is developing overseas anyway -- they aren't wasting their time playing in the pathetic NCAA. College basketball is totally overrated.
Let's face it. Nothing on TV these days replaces football - not college hoops, not the NBA, not NASCAR. Nothing.