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3/18/09

Top 5...

Back in the day, I had a regular feature on the blog of presenting my Top 5 lists in various categories of stuff. It's harder than you might think to pick out a category worth the effort of identifying its top 5 members. (For instance, I suppose it's up for debate whether breakfast cereals is a category worth naming its top 5.) So, after a while, I quit that feature--but I still like the idea.

Let me preface the following list with some context. I'm a sports fan, in the original sense of the word--"fanatic." I play all kinds of sports, when I have the opportunity (although, not so much lately, which partly explains why I'm a few [dozen] pounds over optimum). I watch sports on television. I read about sports online, in magazines, and in newspapers (well, really, who reads anything in newspapers anymore?). And, most telling of all, I listen to sports radio all day long.

I don't recommend doing that. It's rather exhausting to hear the same things discussed/argued day after day. But, you know, they don't call us "fanatics" because we're a super rational group. So, as I'm filing receipts, paying bills, and ordering books at the bookstore, I'm also listening to a constantly repeating cycle of discussion about the various controversies brewing in the sports and sports-entertainment world. Of course, talk about the previous day's or week's games can be ever changing. But for the most part, there are standard, "go-to" topics that are the staple of sports talk radio discussion.

With that said--for any who are still reading--I present my Top 5 Tiresome/Annoying Sports Talk Radio Discussion Topics:

1.) NCAA Basketball Tournament selections/seeding - Yes of course, the upcoming March Madness has inspired this list. But, I don't think I'm suffering from myopia here. This is definitely the most pointless ongoing sports discussion. Don't get me wrong: I love the Tourney. It's one of the great sporting events each year. But, if your team doesn't get in, or doesn't get the seeding you think it deserves, well, it should have won more games. How can it be worth the breath arguing over which teams should be considered the 50th through 64th best in order to participate in a tournament in which they will certainly be knocked out after only a game or two?

2.) NFL overtime - This is pointless on several accounts. First, not that many games in the NFL go into overtime. Yet, invariably, when a game does go into overtime, the entire next week will be taken up with frequent discussions about the merit (or lack thereof) of the overtime rules and possible changes/solutions. Second, the main source of outrage is that the first possession in the overtime period is determined by a coin flip, and the overtime is a sudden death period. The argument goes that possession of the ball should not be left to random chance, when the team that wins a simple coin flip can simply take the ball down the field, score, and win the game, without allowing the other team a chance to try for a score. Now, there are a multitude of flaws in the logic of that argument. But really, all that needs to be pointed out is that--based upon actual statistics--the team that wins the coin flip ends up winning the game only a little more than 50% of the time (I don't remember the actual stat, but I'm sure it is less than 55%). That means that the coin flip really is not having much of an effect on the outcome of the game. Now, I actually do have a relatively simple proposal for how football overtimes (at all levels) should be structured to provide both actual and perceived fairness. But I'll save that for another time.

3.) Steroids in baseball - It's not that this topic is not worth discussing. It's just that there is so much emotion and hyperbole that is so often a part of the discussion, that common sense and perspective are usually left out. Now, I intend to write another post (or series of posts) that will present my magnum opus on the steroids in baseball issue. So I won't say much more about it now.

4.) Regular season NBA basketball - Do I really have to say more? Who wants to talk about this? Ever?

5.) College football BCS - This is only #5 (rather than 1 or 2) on the list because there is an actual problem. The BCS system is screwed up; it's unfair; it's got all kinds of problems. I concede that. But geez! From the time that spring practices start on campuses across the country, through the powder-puff pre-conference games of the early season, and on through the conference title games in December, the talk about the issue for week after week, month after month, and year after year is both non-stop and unchanging. There is no new information brought to the issue. No idea can be proposed that hasn't been proposed before. And no idea that will be proposed will change the current system. Can we please just let this one drop for a year? If not, I might have to turn off the sports talk radio, and turn over to NPR and listen to some political discussion. (Well, maybe not...)

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G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."