January. A month for those of us in the northern hemisphere that is pretty much in the middle of winter. That’s winter, when you would expect to meet wintry weather, you know the sort of thing. Cold, fog, ice, maybe even some snow.
It’s also a month that provides Sky, ITN and BBC News with a great money-generating scheme. The chance to supply overseas TV stations with a years worth of slapstick comedy. Once again, the great nation of Britain has been brought to it’s knees by a little bit of winter weather, in winter, well who’d-a-thunk-it!
Aircraft, which can happily fly at night, when it’s dark, can’t fly in fog. Trains can’t run when it’s cold, even those that run underground in tunnels protected from the elements. As for drivers! I live on a street that winds down a slight incline in an ess shape. It’s not overly onerous to get out of, even with 6 inches of snow, but it is almost impossible at the moment, given the number of abandoned cars. It would appear that 90% of drivers feel that the best way to counter act the fact that their wheels are spinning is by pressing harder on the accelerator pedal. Yes, more gas is always the answer. When it doesn’t work, they reverse, try to start over with more power! Once they fail for the tenth time, it’s get out the car, slam the door shut and stomp home in a huff.
All across England, news reporters are falling over themselves to describe the apocalyptic conditions. Telling us of “blankets of snow”. Err, GRASS IS STILL CLEARLY VISIBLE!!!. People have been spending the night in department stores because they couldn’t get home!
Meanwhile, in parts of the world where a couple of inches of snow is a summers day, they tune to Sky News and lap up the comedy as we slip, slide, skid and complain about the place grinding to a halt.
“The Day After Tomorrow” this isn’t, and yet it’s only a matter of time before there’s a charity appeal for blankets for the south of England.
It may be closer than you think though. The BBC are currently running a special program dealing with the snow outbreak as I type.
I think we already have a winner for best sport headline of 2010.
Speaks for itself really!
The NFL’s regular season ground to a halt on Sunday night, with the final playoff positions being sorted out and, in a surprising development, the Jets have snuck in there. Much to the chagrin of commentators and pundits alike in the States, who seem to think that by resting star players last week, the Colts handed it all to the Jets on a plate. This does kind of over look the previous 15 weeks of play where teams had a chance to arrange themselves a playoff berth.
America is a strange nation when it comes to sports. It’s a country built on capitalist ideals of free market economies and deserving everything you earn through hard work. Where the poorest members of society are expected to haul themselves up with no help, support or healthcare. Where the most exalted members of society tend to have inherited their money rather than earned it. Fair play is to be expected of others, but you should use any means necessary to gain an edge. And yet, the sports leagues exist in a bubble of communism. The worst teams get first pick of the best young players in an effort to allow them to become better. Revenues are centrally pooled and shared equally throughout the league. Can you see Manchester United allowing Liverpool to benefit from their shirt sales? Salaries are capped so that the teams with the richest owners can’t just hoover up the best players. That won’t fly in the UK. Apart from anything else, European Employment law wouldn’t allow it.
For a couple of weeks now, people have been up in arms because the Colts decided that having a couple of players fit for the playoffs outweighed a couple of extra wins, and this allowed the Jets a slightly easier passage. Bollocks. It shows a lack of depth in the squad if the so-called back up players are so poor that the team stops performing when they come in to the game. Perhaps if the administrators of the teams managed their finances better they’d have more able reserves. Perhaps if the teams who were relying on one or two teams beating other teams had actually taken care of their own business in preceding weeks and won games the situation wouldn’t have arisen.
Sport is big business. There are large amounts of money to be had by the winners. While that remains the case, teams are not going to “look out for the good of the league”, they are going to look out for the good of themselves.
Another argument that has been linked in to the discussion is the possibility of moving to a 17 or 18 game season. This, the nay-sayers argue would see yet more meaningless end of season games and increase the risk of player injuries. Well, boo-hoo. Again, teams that are managed properly will be able to field a decent level of back up player. It’s called building a squad. Besides which, if a team does well enough through the season to be in a position where it has things wrapped up with a couple of weeks to spare, they’ve earned the right. The rest of them need to look at themselves and improve.
The records themselves are fairly moot anyway. There are 32 teams in the NFL, split into two conferences of 16, which are in turn split into four divisions of four. Each team play the other teams in its division home and away. They then play one of the other divisions from their conference and one division from the other conference, on a rotating basis. The last two games are defined by finishing position the previous season. In effect, teams may only have a handful of opponents in common over the season, yet they are compared as if they’ve played the same schedule.
It’s impractical to play a season where everyone plays everyone else, the shear physical toll on the players would be too great, however, this pretence that everyone is equal and should be treated as such is downright un-American!
The big pre-season talking point as I recall, was the height of the new scoreboard at the new Dallas stadium. How it was going to be peppered by punters and make a mockery of the game. Well, after 8 regular season games, it seems to have been hit less than once. At least, it’s gone unreported and there would surely have been an avalanche of “I told you so” valedictory pieces from the various talking heads predicting football Armageddon.