A Dog in the Manger on Football's Big Day

My hometown team, the Kansas City Chiefs, flirted with "greatness" this year. Through the first nine games of the season, the Chiefs were on top; they alone were undefeated. Then the team fell apart, winning but two more games in the regular season, and only as a wildcard making the playoffs, where the Colts bested them by one point in the first round.

Well, if you can't be champs, at least you can be loud. So, Chiefs fans endeavored to distinguish themselves by making Arrowhead the loudest stadium in the land. But it's unsportsmanlike to addle the visiting team with the decibels of a jet engine, making it impossible for them to hear their quarterback. Do you just want to win, or do you want a game?

But fans need to have something to point to, some claim to fame, and if noise is all that's left, then noise it's going to be. But it is interference. You can't have fans interfering with the game. Such interference would never be tolerated in the more civilized sports, like golf and power croquet.

Football fans have lost their sense of proportionality. Football has taken over their lives; they're obsessed with it. As evidence, I refer you to the Ultimate Chiefs Fan contest conducted by the Kansas City Star:

Tell us in 100 words or less --- keep it brief, people! --- how you are the biggest Chiefs fan in town. Is it because of that killer Chiefs tattoo on your neck? Your conversion van tricked out in red and gold? A man cave stuffed with Chiefs stuff?

The Star announced the winner in November. To judge the entries for yourself, go here and start clicking on the photos. (Could America's newspapers stay in business if they ended their coverage of sports?)

Some might contend because of the closeness of the score that the Chief's post-season showdown with the Colts was a great game. But the Chiefs had been way out front with a 21-point advantage at halftime. A great game is when teams are evenly matched; when it's a brawl throughout the entire hour. But the Colts-Chiefs playoff game was a case of each taking turns dominating the other. How great a match-up can that be?

If you're a real sportsman you want to play against the best, and you want the best playing at their best. Only then can there be any honor in winning. So it grieves me that we must be reminded of the true nature of sport by a girl, a "silly Caucasian girl." I refer to Kill Bill: Vol. 1, in which The Bride (Beatrix Kiddo), after receiving a grievous cut from O-ren Ishii in their climactic sword fight, struggles to her feet and in Japanese tells her opponent: "Attack me with everything you have."

Only if your opponent attacks you with everything he has can you take any pride in beating him. So the ugliest thing in football is deliberately injuring opposing players so that they can't attack you at all. If you can't outplay your opponent, maim him and take him out of the game. I'll be damned if I can see the sport in winning by such means. Coaches who set bounties on key players should be banned from sports in perpetuity.

Sports and athletics have a natural, undeniable attraction. A perfectly swatted golf ball has a most uplifting sound to it, and a beautifully passed football that falls into the hands of a galloping receiver is a sight to behold. Because many of us have tried our hand at sports and failed to make much of an impression, we lionize those whose natural abilities and dogged discipline have taken them to the heights.

But at the risk of being the proverbial dog in the manger on football's biggest day, I put it to you: What is a sports contest supposed to prove?

What will be demonstrated today is which team is better at getting the pigskin into the end zone. While I appreciate the tremendous difficulties involved in that, I fail to see the importance of where the pigskin is, be it in the end zone or anywhere else. Let's just put the pigskin someplace we can all agree on.

With 300-pound linemen crashing into each other, American football is becoming much too violent, even without bounties. It makes little sense to spend years building up your body only to have it torn down through injury in a single game. America needs a kinder, gentler, more genteel national sport, but it's doubtful that diehard fans would tolerate professional football wussified into a "touch" version of the sport.

So Congress should just outlaw football and recognize power croquet as the one true national sport. Football hasn't been the same since they installed the designated hitter rule, anyway. With power croquet, there would be no need to continually test for steroids and other substances as they can't really improve play. Croquet players are already barred from taking anything stronger than India Pale Ale until the final chukker. In any event, because Congress hasn't acted on this important issue, I say: Go Broncos!

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. The opinions expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of American Thinker.

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