I am a person who understands and accepts the concept of deferred gratification. I am a long-term investor in the stock market. I do not suffer from Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. I am capable of focusing on a single task at any given time; I am not compulsively drawn to “multi-tasking.” I do not need to have my every whim catered to in an instant. Nonetheless, there are sports happenings and things surrounding sporting events that just take too damned long and need to be eliminated in their entirety of shortened very significantly. Let me mention just a few…
The Super Bowl Halftime Show lasts so long that it changes the amount of time that the teams are in the clubhouse between halves of that game as compared to every other NFL football game. That alone says that the Super Bowl Halftime Show is too long. Then, when you add the fact that most of the programs are less than entertaining and the throngs of mouth-breathers, who are crowding around the stage in either a real or feigned frenzy, distract one’s attention from the marginal entertainment value of the production, this activity needs to be eliminated in its entirety.
But the Super Bowl Halftime Show is only the second-worst time waster on that fateful day on the calendar. That’s because the Super Bowl Pre-Game Show has grown in duration to exceed the Presidential Election Coverage that we get every four years. The game starts just after 6:00 PM in the Eastern Time Zone; therefore, there is no need to begin the pre-game coverage at 11:00 AM – particularly since there have been two weeks leading up to the game where there has been massive coverage for every aspect of the game itself. Thus, the Pre-Game Show is a repetition – for the umpteenth time – of the sports aspect of the game diluted to a huge extent by up close and personal feature items about game participants and/or their parents and/or their maternal grand aunt’s college roommate’s middle daughter’s medical problems. It would not be even marginally difficult to cut this program from seven hours to two hours without losing even a soupçon of the sports content.
Just in case anyone might think I’ve gone off the deep end here, FOX says that Ryan Seacrest will be working as the host of the “entertainment portions” of the programming on Super Bowl Sunday. Ignoring the fact that American Idol will launch its new assault on the sensibilities of America a couple of weeks after the Super Bowl, the fact that anyone would think that Ryan Seacrest could possibly add anything of interest to a purely sporting presentation is frightening. But if you cut the whole Pre-Game Show to two hours – - or even better to one hour – - we would not have to endure Ryan Seacrest and/or any of his cohorts as part of the nonsensical build up to what ought to be a big football game.
And while I’m mentioning things related to NFL activities, dare I remind you of the hours and hours of TV coverage devoted to the NFL Draft? I’m just talking about the coverage of the draft itself on the weekend of the event. I’m not adding in the fact that we already are being told about Mel Kiper’s top ten talents for next April’s NFL Draft. This can all be made a lot shorter by cutting back the time allotted to the teams for making their selections. If in fact they have been doing all the studying and evaluating that they assure their fans that they do, then it cannot possibly take them 15 more minutes to decide to take the guy that they ought to be prepared to take when their turn comes up. The entire first round of the draft should be compressed into 3 hours; the second round should take no more than 2 hours; rounds three through seven should take no longer than 75 minutes each. Maybe one way to make that happen is to forbid the teams to have chairs in the arena holding the draft or in their “war rooms”. That would get people motivated to get things done quickly. If that doesn’t work, forbid potty stops for everyone involved and ban the use of “adult diapers”…
Commissioner Goodell has already taken steps to shorten the period between draft picks in the first round. He can go further in assuring that the teams pick up the pace by having teams lose their pick entirely if the selection is not in his hand by the time the clock runs out. There is still time to be cut from this happening.
In previous years, the coverage devoted to the protracted decision making related to whether or not Brett Favre might or might not retire was more than excessive. But the NFL is off the hook at the moment on this count because MLB has taken center stage on this front. We never again need to have Roger Clemens hijack our sports coverage with his protracted negotiations for being a part-time pitcher. Absent any change, when he’s 55 he might wait until mid-August to sign a contract with a team in first place just so he has the best chance to be in the playoffs and to be officially on the post-season roster that has to be “solidified” on 1 September. It has taken too damned long to resolve this less-than-important issue over the past couple of years; so maybe MLB needs to change the rule for free agents. If a free agent has not signed with some major league team – or a minor league team – by Opening Day, then he won’t be eligible for post-season play. I’m 200% sure that would get Roger Clemens to make up his mind a whole lot sooner regarding how much he’d rather watch his kids play baseball as compared to signing a contract that will pay him almost a million dollars every time he starts a game…
And since I’m talking about baseball for a moment, one of the things that is just too damned long is Ken Burns’ “Ode To Baseball” which re-runs on PBS every once in a while. The reason PBS doesn’t dare run it more often is that it would overlap with itself if they did so. Maybe the FCC should decree that the full version may only be sold to individuals who want to watch it in the privacy of their homes and that televised versions have to be ones edited back to two hours at the most? That would not offend me.
With the new scheduling for the playoffs and the World Series, it is entirely possible that the MLB playoffs will last until the early days of November. I hope I don’t have to work too hard to try to convince you that means the playoffs take too damned long. Spring training begins in February in warm weather cities because it is too cold to play meaningful baseball outdoors in most of the cities with MLB teams. The same is true of the weather in early November in those cities; nevertheless, MLB will play the most important games of the season under conditions that would cause a postponement for early season games. This makes no sense; the playoffs need to be shortened.
And speaking of playoffs that last too long, the NBA needs to take a long and hard look at the time it takes them to crown a champion. Their season begins in November and after 82 games, they eliminate less than half of the teams from playoff spots. Then they begin a playoff odyssey that can take as much as 10 weeks because they drag out the opening rounds to ridiculous lengths. The playoff games in the NBA are really the only ones that exhibit sufficient intensity from the players to make them worth careful watching; but if it takes almost two weeks for one team to eliminate another one in a sweep in the early rounds, I’ve already lost interest.
Anything and everything associated with the PGA Tour takes too long. There are way too many events; 90% of the top players don’t even consider the possibility of playing in more than half of the events. There is a “buzz” associated with only five or six tournaments a year and the folks involved in promoting the game continue to have to concoct ways to try to keep fans’ attention. Why else would there be Skins Games pairing men and women teams? Why do you think there is a FedEx Cup in the first place? Cut the season in half so that the best players play just about every time there’s a tournament and there will be plenty of interest and coverage.
The baseball season, the NBA season, and the PGA Tour all take more than half of a year. The Parade of Nations in the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympic Games only seems as if it takes more than half a year. There is video evidence that it does not take six months from start to finish – unless you count the idiotic worldwide torch relay to get the Olympic torch into the stadium for the grand crescendo of the Opening Ceremonies. But the Parade of Nations takes hours upon hours upon hours. Why? These are premiere athletes from everywhere in the world. Can’t they move along a little faster?
Every one of the things that I’ve talked about here takes too long but they are all but brief interludes compared to the final event I want to point out. That seven hour Super Bowl Pre-Game show is but a brief moment in time compared to this next one. The two days of the NFL Draft fly by in comparison. Consider the time spent and the snail’s pace associated with any study commissioned by the NCAA wherein Dr. Myles Brand is sitting and waiting for the results and recommendations so that he can ponder the depths of the analysis and the impact of the recommendations. It took less time for the Roman Empire to fall than it takes for the NCAA to figure out what to do about anything more complicated than where to go for lunch tomorrow. If there are any problems related to collegiate athletics – - and there are – -, I can only hope that my soon to be born first grandson will be around to witness the NCAA’s implemented actions to resolve those problems. I sure won’t be around then.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…