Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday Morning Excitement

It's always a long, long wait on conference championship Sunday for that 2:00 start time. Either sleep in or keep yourself busy. I'm here to help you get through this wait period.

Speaking of waiting, it is an underrated concept in life. Think about how much of your life is spent waiting? Standing in line, waiting for a show to start, for a meal to come, for a day to come, for a commute to end. A definition of humanity could be "the animal that waits." We spend a large portion of our lives waiting for a different portion of our lives. Twentieth-century writers like Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, and John Fowles, among others, have picked up on this. So, learn to enjoy or at least tolerate waiting.

Circumstantial evidence against "Parity"
A lot of people talk about NFL "parity" without thought or analysis; they've heard about it so much they just assume it exists.

I'm not going to do a systematic statistical study to debunk parity here, but I would like to provide some circumstantial evidence against parity.

First, here are the top three regular season records of the last six years.
2001: 14-2, 13-3, 13-3
2002: 12-4, 12-4, 12-4
2003: 14-2, 13-3, 12-4
2004: 15-1, 14-2, 13-3
2005: 14-2, 13-3, 12-4
2006: 14-2, 13-3, 13-3
Do you see parity? I see dominant teams each year.

Second, here are the 2006 playoff teams, and the number of playoff appearances each has made since 1999 (I feel the Bronco titles were a transition from the dominant mode of the 90s into a new "era," so I like to start there). In those eight seasons, the 2006 playoff teams have made several playoff appearances.
Baltimore: 4
Chicago: 3
Dallas: 3
Indianapolis: 7
Kansas City: 2
New Orleans: 2
Giants: 4
New England: 5
Philadelphia: 6
Jets: 4
Seattle: 5

Like I said, this isn't irrefutable, but merely circumstantial evidence. Certainly the "any given Sunday" mentality is real.

A few other observations here: Philadelphia has made the playoffs 6 of 7 years, New England 5 of 6 (4 straight), and Indianapolis 7 of 8 (5 straight), and Seattle 4 straight times. Despite free agency and the salary cap, in today's NFL a team can still maintain success. And further, one reason that people have Peyton Manning's playoff failures to talk about is that he keeps getting his teams to the playoffs.

As always, is the best source to go to for historical data to give us perspective. I use the site all the time, including for gathering parts of this data.

Rooting in the playoffs

Bill Simmons thinks something is wrong with society because people don't like the Patriots. I can see why he would be vexed that the rest of the world isn't in love with his favorite teams, but I think the answer is much simpler. First of all, going into the season approximately 31 out of 32 fans wanted to see a different team come out champion. At this point, 28 out of 32 fans have already been disappointed. Of the teams left, approximately 3 fans for every 1 Patriot fan want a different team to win. Does this make sense?

And for those of us not rooting for our favorite team today, we at least want to see a good story, and a good story isn't the same champion winning again.

If other long-suffering fans are like me, we also want to see Fortune spread her fickle love around a bit more. If I can't ever see a Viking team win a championship, that doesn't mean I want to see another fanbase get to witness FOUR championships; it means I root for other long-suffering fans to finally see their teams winning a title.

The Colts have never won in Indy. The Saints have never won at all. The Bears haven't won in 21 years. And the Patriots won...two years ago. Frankly, the only non-Patriot fans who want the Patriots to win must either be bullies or front-runners, the kind of people who sympathize with the British royal family or enjoy watching the rich get richer. OF COURSE we want to see somebody else win. We know what it is to suffer as a sports fan. Why would we ROOT to see another fanbase monopolize the joy? I'd like to see you, long-time Saint, Bear, or Colt fan get to have some happiness that you've either never had or not had in a long time. I don't want to see you, Patriot fan, get the same joy you got two, three, and five years ago.

So I'm rooting for 1. Indianapolis 2. Chicago 3. New Orleans 4. New England. I suppose strict adherence to my sympathy for long-suffering fans should make me root for the Saints over the Bears, but for some reasons, it doesn't.

Enjoy the games today, people. You might not have this kind of fun again for months.

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