FanPost

It’s Not About the Destination: The Case for Football

(I hate to post this during basketball season and the looming last Preston! home game… but here goes)

After finally finishing Mike’s post about the upcoming 2011 Championship Week(s) that is March Madness (I think this post would be funnier if I said that after the spring game or in August), I am compelled to write about my love for the game of football, even the FBS.  Don’t get me wrong, I wish there was a playoff system in FBS and there was a true "champion".  However….

I’ve watched Braveheart and Gladiator (several times).  Those movies are (dare-say?) pioneers in large battle scene movies with excellent music, great detail (except for those poor stuffed horses falling into the pikes… hilarious), and decent drama.  Sometimes when I needed an action-scene fix, I would chapter select to the battles to see the buildup, see the blood, and hear the motivating dialogue.  Yes, Maximus, I AM entertained.  However, I still don’t like watching the end of either movie as both lead characters become martyrs… in fact, is there a true winner?  Rome eventually falls, and Scotland, while it is its own country now, was conquered just four years after it won its independence in 1328 and today shares the same British monarchy.

Unlike Mike’s lack of belief in college football, I believe the regular season is about the journey, even though the destination is not the preferred result.  Do you always have a clear winner in life?  Like any good lawyer would answer… "It depends."  While I’m not a lawyer, and I won’t debate how you measure a winner in life, you can eventually have a BCS winner in college football.  Becoming an FBS football ‘champion’ depends on the season(s) before, it depends if you’ve lost a game or not (Screw you, Mongorians Ito), and it depends on your strength of schedule.  So while one might believe "almost 50% of the games are completely meaningless", they all have meaning if you’re going to eventually be a national champion.  Like some famous coach with a pipe would say, "The only variable is time."

My love for football starts from my days growing up in eastern Kentucky (Martin County) and playing the (only) three sports in elementary school: Tee-ball, basketball, and football.  While I had a decent batting average for base hits, I could never hit a home run (even off a freakin’ tee), and in basketball, I’ve always been an inconsistent shooter.  Once fourth grade hit, we had the opportunity to play football for the first time… and in regards to sports, it was an instant love affair for me.

Like my time in the Army, there’s just something about putting on the uniform that makes you feel great about being part of a team.  Every year I played football (4th - 8th grades), I always looked forward to strapping on the cleats, pads with a jersey, and the helmet, waiting for the chance to make a play with the ball or attacking the play-maker.  We didn’t win championships (thanks to Paintsville), but I loved the game.  I loved being able to light up the QB on a sack and hear the whole crowd go "ooooooh" like they actually felt the hit.  I love the sound of crunching pads, and the sight of someone leaping for a ball or stopping a ball carrier in their tracks.

Maybe it’s because we didn’t win very many games, (I still hated losing) but by God, I loved the journey.  While my end result at the University of Louisville was an engineer, my journey there as a student led to tailgates and watching football games, followed later in the year by basketball season.  I had season tickets in both sports every year as an undergrad, but I found it harder and harder to be at every single basketball game because there were so many.  Now that I’m a grown man, with a couple jobs, couple M.Eng classes, couple of kids, couple of a wife, and give time to community service, it’s damn near impossible to make every basketball game.  Starting last year, I only buy season tickets to football, and count it a blessing if I’m able to get a ticket to a men’s basketball game.  Besides, I found that many games early in basketball season (like more than 50% of the NBA regular season) seem more "meaningless" to me than a regular season football game.

So when I remember the days of camping out for student tickets at PJCS, hoping the Cards would someday break into the Top 25 in football, I can’t believe they were so close to playing for THE game Schnellenberger believed they will eventually win (again, Ito… screw you).  While I respect Mike’s passion about basketball and love the craziness that is March Madness, I must defend the slight at college (FBS) football.  I have loved the journey following the football program since 2000, and will continue to cheer on the Cards every single home game in person as if it depends on their final destination, because eventually, it does.

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