College football and its fans are in a matrix. But no one seems to care, and most watch and cheer in a drugged-like stupor of acceptance.
Watching Oregon, Michigan and Oklahoma St. players dance off the field after BCS wins, I could see the joy on their faces. Seeing Florida, South Carolina, and Boise State smiling at scoreboards, I could feel their sense of accomplishment. And when Alabama stood under the confetti Monday night I could smell its pride.
But I just felt sorry for them. Downright sad.
Sorry that they thought their games meant something. Sorry that they thought it mattered. Sorry that the conferences, bowl directors and their television partners spent so much cash to perpetuate a lie. A myth that the kids had been a part of something important.
Because these games aren’t important. These participation bowls don’t mean anything.
Even Monday night’s so-called national title game was an embarrassment to competition. A slap to the face of fairness. The centerpiece of a system that uses bowl-games like drugs to hook and daze fans.
Drugs of the worst order. Crack like addictiveness rolled into made-for-TV packages.
Make people temporarily happy—that’s the goal. Let as many teams as possible win their last game. Give everyone a chance to celebrate.
And to those happy people, market goods. Sell them stuff to perpetuate the myth of meaning. Encourage them to want more.
To the zombied fans, sell tickets and bowl T-shirts. To the money hungry sponsors, sell advertisements.
And because they have no money, flat out bribe the players with free stuff.
X-Box 360s, iPods, watches. Throw in a suit to wear on game day. Do anything and everything to hide the plain truth.
These games mean nothing. Tell us nothing.
The joy of the victor always tempered by the fact that no player really finishes a champion.
Sure ESPN, college football coaches and Bill Hancock from the BCS promote a champion. On Monday they crowned the Alabama Crimson Tide. But that’s all part of the matrix—it’s most important task to convince people it’s real.
But it’s not real. None of it.
Two teams from the SEC played in the title game. One was shut out in embarrassing fashion. Supposedly the better one.
Meanwhile Oklahoma State, Stanford and Oregon were at home. Steaming. Boise State and Houston, also at home, relegated to bowls utterly lacking in anything worth talking about.
Controversy. No real champion. No buy-in from everyday folks.
Alabama feels good, and I don’t blame them. But it finishes a one-loss team like so many others. Including LSU.
At the end of the day Alabama won a made-for-TV event that only meant something to those whose job it was to promote it. ESPN, Bill Hancock, and Brent Musburger to name three.
This sad story, however, is punctuated by a sadder one.
People can’t get out of the matrix.
There’s just so much steady happiness to the participatory nature of college football. A game for everyone. Each team six wins from next year’s joy-fest.
It’s simple. It’s sweet. A vanilla happy ending around every corner.
Never real heartbreak. Never national drama.
But there’s a cost to the matrix, and it’s true greatness. The chance for people to enjoy something really high-stakes. The opportunity for something real.
Less winners outside the matrix, maybe. More dramatic and legitimate champions, definitely.
So I say, wake up, sports fans. Sacrifice your team’s participation bowl next year and choose the red pill marked playoff instead.
Get out of the Matrix.
You won’t regret it.