Thoughts on the Superbowl and Other Bread and Circuses....
“Panem et circenses" (Bread and Circuses) - Juvenal
Well, I am not a professional sports fan at all and I didn't watch the Superbowl. I don't watch things like that excepting if I am drinking with friends and it just so happens to be on TV... I think Professional Sports are boring and a waste of time. Who cares if the San Diego Lakers beat the New York Yankers? Does my life improve if my local team wins? Nope. In fact, my life probably gets worse if there is a local team. For more on that read: How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers
I will, though, gamble on a games outcome because then it becomes interesting as I like to win money (and hate losing it). Gambling makes any sport interesting.
I do, though, greatly enjoy watching children do sports.
But I digress quickly, today.
Today, I am talking about the Superbowl, again. I laugh today when I read all sorts of articles about "Bad calls," "What were they thinking?" etc.
Folks, these things are all fixed... Now before you jump up and down and say "Rogers is crazy" may I give my qualifications? I was a paid professional sports announcer from 2005 ~ 2010.
Were you? No? OK, then please hear me out (because besides being a former professional sports announcer, I am a tad bit crazy!)
In this last Superbowl, I was surprised to find that the last touchdown was with 2 minutes left in the game.... Usually they arrange it so that the final score is within the last 20 or 30 seconds... But then I heard about the interception that everyone is complaining about.
Think about this folks: These big companies at sponsor the Superbowl are paying hundreds of millions of dollars for 4 hours TV ads... They want their 4 hours... They get their 4 hours.
Can't have blow outs in the first quarter...
You know when say, Denver got blown out (maybe thirty years ago) and was behind by 40 some point at the end of the first quarter and 36 million tvs turned off, the sponsors were not happy and that hurt sales at the networks... The networks do everything they can to make damned sure things like that don't happen again. You know the leagues live and eat off revenues, so do the coaches and referees. No big money sponsors? No, big money salaries...
Don't believe me? Please refer to women's NBA or women's soccer. I'll wait.
Yesterday, I chuckled at this article:
What were Seahawks thinking on Russell Wilson's goal-line pass? Explanations make little sense. (They make total and complete sense if you think like me!)
They could have won the game with less than 30 seconds left.... But they threw a pass? Oh, really?
High School Cross Country isn't corrupt(ed too much)... But you can bet your bottom dollar that when Cross Country or Marathon gets to the big money Olympics, there's all sort of Hi-Jinks going on!
Folks, did you know in Orwell's 1984, in one chapter Winston Smith goes to the office restroom and there he sees his boss.
The boss says, "Did you see the big game last night?"
To which Smith answers, "No!"
The boss responds, "Wow! What an exciting game. What an exciting finish... That's the best script we've written in a long time!"
I mentioned that the sponsors pay for 4 hours of advertising, they want their 4 hours of advertising... The leagues does everything in its power to make sure that happens, too. It makes it easier to get even more money from sponsors next year. It's a given.
The laughable part is the next day after the big game.... Americans are outraged that some coach called for a pass in a football game...
Do Americans complain about US troops in Ukraine, bombing dark skinned children in Middle Eat nations 24/7, or massive tax increases?... Nah... Just crickets....
One article stated, "They'll be talking about that call for years!"
Sheesh! Right.... The sad part is that they actually will be talking about it for years.
It's good promotion for the game to have people talking about it for years after.
The guys handling promotion for Sony Pictures, "The Interview" ain't got nuttin' on the guys handling the Superbowl... Heck, for all I know, it's the same Madison Avenue advertising agency....
As an aside, ya, know, everybody says the NFL is run by a bunch of money making geniuses (maybe I won't argue) but it seems to me they are missing a Big Money maker. He'll, if I had a huge platform like the Super Bowl with 110 million drunks watching, I wouldn't pay Katie Perry a dime to perform. I'd tell her, the other artists and their labels, "It's costs $50 million to appear at the superb owl halftime show."
But I digress again...
Most people, upon reading what I have written here will respond, "But it is impossible to cheat because too many players have to be involved." Ha! No they don't. You only need league salaried refs and TV station execs.
It's not necessary to have the players involved.
The leagues learned their lessons the hard way doing that with the 1919 World Series Black Sox scandal when the players WERE involved with game fixing...
Dear reader might also find this tidbit interesting, from Playboy Magazine in November 1983...
"Joe Namath backed up his famous guarantee with the New York Jets upsetting the Baltimore Colts, 16–7, in Super Bowl III. But since “Broadway Joe” trotted off the field pointing No. 1 to the sky, there have been more than a few rumblings that the Colts took a dive against the Jets.
The legitimacy of the NFL-AFL merger of 1970 was greatly aided by the AFL’s win in Super Bowl III on Jan. 12, 1969. The fact that the game was won by New York — a massive media market with a coverboy quarterback — was icing on the cake.
In hindsight, it could be argued that the Jets’ win over the Colts was a triumph worth not just millions but billions of dollars for the league.
Bubba Smith said, “That Super Bowl game, which we lost by nine points, was the critical year (for the AFL). The game just seemed odd to me. Everything was out of place. I tried to rationalize that our coach, Don Shula, got out-coached, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t know if any of my teammates were in on the fix.”
Money talks... Bubba Smith would go on to claim years later that the story wasn't true and, after he recants, he would be elected to the NFL Hall of Fame. Nobody said that football players were rocket scientists, but money talks.
There's a litany of this sort of thing all throughout sports history and it happens every year in every major sport. I can run off a huge list off the top of my head: Sonny Liston going down against Muhammed Ali on a phantom punch (Gerry Cooney against Larry Holmes too)...
George Foreman is famously quoted as saying, "Professional Boxing? It's one big joke."
Dear reader, ever heard of Tim Donaghy?
"Tim Donaghy was an NBA referee from 1994 to 2007, officiating in 772 regular season games and 20 playoff contests. But rumors of fixing games caused Donaghy to resign in July 2007. Concrete evidence presented by the FBI resulted in Donaghy pleading guilty to federal charges and being sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. After being released, Donaghy began telling tales of NBA officiating, gambling and controlling the outcome of games. His legal team even filed loosely veiled allegations against the NBA in U.S. District Court.
Although he does not name team or referee names, it is clear that Donaghy’s attorney is referring to Game 6 of the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers.
“Referees A, F and G were officiating a playoff series between Teams 5 and 6 in May of 2002. It was the sixth game of a seven-game series, and a Team 5 victory that night would have ended the series.
“However, Tim learned from Referee A that Referees A and F wanted to extend the series to seven games. Tim knew Referees A and F to be ‘company men,’ always acting in the interest of the NBA, and that night, it was in the NBA’s interest to add another game to the series. Referees A and F heavily favored Team 6.
“Personal fouls (resulting in obviously injured players) were ignored even when they occurred in full view of the Referees. Conversely, the Referees called made-up fouls on Team 5 in order to give additional free throw opportunities for Team 6. Their foul-calling also led to the ejection of two Team 5 players.
“The referees’ favoring of Team 6 led to that team’s victory that night, and Team 6 came back from behind to win that series.”
These sorts of things are not isolated incidents...
All pro sports are big entertainment. They are big money. The bigger the sport, the bigger the money and, therefore, the bigger the "entertainment."
Seriously, to think otherwise is, really naive and just plain foolish.
If you want to watch true sports that aren't fixed where the players play to win and play their hearts out and cry when they lose... Go to the playground and watch little children play....
Oh, but, don't let me leave you on a happy note... Sorry, but as a former coach of kid's little league soccer, I can also tell you that those leagues are not completely on the up and up either; the dads who start the leagues pick all the best players for their teams and guys like me - who are recruited by the local government recreation department - to coach a bunch of kids from broken families, get kids with basically poor skills. Of course they have poor skills! They can't kick or throw a ball as well as the other kids because they don't live with dad.
The kids who do live with dad are the best ones, with the best skills, and so they were taken long ago by the dads when the leagues were first set up. So, even in that case, the playing field is not level nor fair...
But, at least, in that case, the kids try their hardest for their family, moms and dads, friends and team mates and themselves. They don't think about anything else.
That's the true spirit of sports.
Am I wrong?
Thanks to James Santagata