Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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Monday, September 03, 2007


Why Not?

Stuck in the airport on the way back from Branson. Bored bored bored. Mrs. Tremendous is re-reading The Secret, so I break out the ol' laptop and see that we just hit 1000 posts! Nice work, us. Then I lope around the internets and do some reading, and I think to myself: For FJM Post #1001, instead of attacking another old hack who still thinks it's inexplicable that the White Sox are playing .440 ball, how about breaking down a jokey, Page 2 Scoop Jackson article on why Tennis is better than College Football?

Nice little change of pace. No facts to analyze, no stats -- just Scoop's good old fashioned weird opinions, and the bloggers who love them.

Let me first say that I like both college football and tennis. I have never thought to compare the two, mainly because why would you ever compare the two? Clearly Scoop has a bee in his bonnet, though, so let's take a look-see at some of his reasons.

Despite what everyone else may tell you, here are 25 reasons why tennis is better than college football:

I'm glad he's doing this. Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- has been talking my ear off recently about how college football is better than tennis. I can't get people to fucking shut up about how college football is better than tennis. Even in Branson, I couldn't swing a cat at a Kirby Vanburch show without hitting some dude who was prattling on about "Oh, college football is so great" and "college football is soooo much better than tennis," and whatnot. I can't wait to send this article to everyone I know, so they will all stop talking about how college football is better than tennis.

Because even though she lost this weekend, Maria Sharapova didn't go out like Notre Dame.

We are already in trouble in terms of variable comparison here. I think for a Page 2 article, it would have actually been a good opening gambit to just write: 1. Maria Sharapova. That would have been...something. A cheap, appeal-to-idiot-dudes something, but something. Comparing Sharapova's U.S. open loss to Notre Dame's a reason tennis is better than college football...?...?...?

Because, right now, Ohio State versus Michigan cannot come close to Federer versus Nadal.

Perhaps not. But you should have used like Florida-Florida State, since bringing up Michigan reminds one that one might counter this point by saying that nothing in tennis comes close to Appalachian State beating Michigan in the Big House on a blocked field goal after a 46-yard hail mary to get Michigan into field goal range with 6 seconds left.

4. Ana Ivanovic.

And see now you go ahead and do the thing where you just type the name of a hot lady. Sigh.

No player in college football has fathers like Venus and Serena Williams or Marion Bartoli.

I don't know what Marion Bartoli's father is like, but do you really want to celebrate Richard Williams? He did a lot of amazing things for his daughters, but he's also a little loopy, I think. Remember when Venus was booed at Indian Wells for bailing on a match with Serena, and Richard Williams said: "It's the worst act of prejudice I've seen since they killed Martin Luther King"? I'm positive that the Williams family has encountered their share of racism, but that seems insulting to a lot of people who have suffered actual brutal acts of racism.

Although, what do I know -- maybe a mild smattering of boos at a tennis tournament is the second-worst act of racism in the last 40 or so years, next to that horrifying murder. Whatever. The point is, tennis is better than college football.

6. Because no coach is bigger than the player or the program.

Why is this good or bad for either sport?

7. Because as cute as Ian Johnson and Chrissy Popadics' story is, they'll never match Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf's.

Here I'm just going to have to straight-up call bullshit. Johnson and Popadics, you'll remember, are the Boise State football player and cheerleader, respectively, who got engaged on national TV when Johnson, basking in the glow of his winning score in the Broncos' insane overtime fumblerooski-laden Statue-of-Liberty-Play riddled 43-42 victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, dropped to one knee and popped the question. It was the most hilariously wonderful and American and college-y thing I have ever seen. (They later received death threats due to the fact that Johnson is black and Popadics is white, and persevered, ["You take it for what it is — the less educated, the less willing to change," said Johnson, level-headedly] which makes me love them even more.)

Anyway, that's their story.

Graf and Agassi were two famous multi-millionaire tennis players who met after they both won a tournament and got married, and they have cute kids, and it's very nice. That's their story. How is that better than proposing on TV right after you score a touchdown to upset a massive powerhouse and win the Fiesta Bowl and finish a 13-0 season?

8. Because they don't name college football stadiums after jazz icons (Louis Armstrong), AIDS and human rights activists (Arthur Ashe) or world-class, world-changing feminists (Billie Jean King).

It maybe should be noted that Ashe and King were players. Which maybe is also a reason they named tennis stadiums after them. And Armstrong lived near the site of the stadium. It's not like when they build a new Centre Court at Wimbledon they'll name it "John Lennon Stadium" just because he was a cool dude who was pro-peace. And I'm not the guy to ask -- and too lazy to research -- but I'd bet some of the people that college football stadiums were named after were decent people.

9. Because the NCAA would never invite eight "wild card" teams to play in their "tournament" the way the USTA did with players like John Isner and Donald Young at the Open.

Again, I hate to rewrite your article for you, but the fact that you put "tournament" in quotes indicates that you know that there is no championship "tournament" in college football, and that this is a sore spot for a lot of people, and maybe you could have just said: "Tennis has tournaments to decide its champions," and maybe that would be a stronger argument, since: who the hell are John Isner and Donald Young?

10. Because even though more people will watch Virginia Tech at LSU on Saturday, nothing in that game will match what will happen in the three matches on Super Saturday.

So, the #10 reason that tennis is better than college football, is that the theoretical like "goodness" of three future tennis matches will outweigh the theoretical "goodness" of a future college football game.

Strong. Strong argument.

12. Roger Federer plays tennis and no one in college football is close to being that good.

How might one person playing a team sport display the same talents as one person playing an individual sport? How might one do that, Mr. Scoop, sir, if you please? You know why eggs are better than lucite? Because eggs can be made into omelets and there's nothing involving lucite that is as good as omelets.

13. The on-the-court postmatch interview between Andy Roddick and Justin Gimelstob.

Didn't see it. It sounds amazing, though. Thanks for the excellent description.

15. Because Dick Enberg, John McEnroe and Mary Carillo are better than anyone except the GameDay crew.

So: tennis is better than college football because tennis's announcing A-team is better than any college football booth team except for college football's studio A-team. Take that, college football!

18. Of the next superstars in both sports (Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina and Brian Brohm of Louisville), even if or when Brohm gets picked No. 1 in the 2008 NFL draft, del Potro will have a better career.

Let's count the number of weird assumptions made here in #18.

1. Brian Brohm is the "next superstar" in football.
2. Juan Martin del Potro is the "next superstar" in tennis.
3. There is a logical method one can use to compare the as-yet unplayed careers of football QBs and male tennis players.
4. When that method is applied to Brohm and Juan Martin del Potro, at some point in the future, no matter what happens, it will show that del Potro's career will have been "better" than Brohm's career.

21. No boosters.

Yes. Thank you. Tennis is notoriously calm and nurturing and "move at your own pace"-ish and "whatever's best for you, dear"-ish when it comes to the young people who show world-class promise. No one ever puts undue pressure on young tennis stars. No kids are ever rushed, nor is money ever dangled in front of 12 year-olds, nor are there any like companies or anything who attack barely-pubescent kids with $$$. Huge ad-in, for tennis, here.

22. Because you won't get four football games this season as drama-filled and intense as Ferrer/Nalbandian, Peer/Vaidisova, Santoro/Blake or Wawrinka/Korolev have already played in the first week of this year's Open.

I will take that bet.

23. Because women receive equal pay. (Oops, there are no women in college football.)

Oops! Equal pay was just instituted, like this year, I think, in the slams. Until last year, 2006, the top prize for men at Wimbledon was higher than the top prize for women. Isn't that kind of lazy sexism in 2006 -- in a sport that has been played by both men and women forever -- a worse mark against that sport than the fact that football is a sport played only by men?

That is one tortured, long-ass sentence, but you get what I mean.

24. Because challenging calls and instant replay is less corrupt. (I mean, it's more accurate, more cost-efficient, requires fewer cameras, is less time-consuming and leaves less room for human, alum, corporate, Vegas, referee error.)

There is one thing a replay has to show, in tennis: was the ball in or out? One thing. That's why they can have like lasers that announce it instantly. There are many many other things that refs have to look for in football. Feet in? Possession? Ball over goal line? Guy out of bounds and then came back in? Knee down? Mascot interference? Cheerleaders hot? Mascot hot? Did coach come off sidelines and punch player in face?

25. There may be B.S. in tennis, but not BCS.

Weird. Weird ending.

Post 1002, coming tomorrow: Junior breaks down: Michael Ventre on why Steely Dan's career path is a good metaphor for the rules changes in international basketball.

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posted by Unknown  # 7:49 PM
By the way, here are some other things that are true:

Dinosaurs are better than breakfast.

Peter, Paul, and Mary were better than jurisprudence.

Zac Efron is better than "Wheel of Fortune."

Imagination is better than the circus.

Charcoal is better than ants.
Some kudos to hand out:

First, to Cristian, who cheered me up with this excellent Yakov Smirnov joke:

In Soviet Russia, Joe Morgan fires you!

He does indeed, my friend. He does indeed.

And second to Josh, who answers Scoop's weird dumb claim that tennis is better because women get equal pay. Ignoring the fact that no one gets paid in college...

Scoop is apparently unaware of Title IX which, for all its problems, did enshrine UNDER THE LAW the idea of equality in education waaay back in 1972. The effects of Title IX have mainly been felt in athletics, so for the sake of this discussion let's say that Scoop Jackson is apparently unaware of the fact that, sans pay, college athletes all receive an equal amount of funding regardless of gender.

While that's hardly as sexy as "tennis gives the same prize purse to of 2006," an immeasurably greater number of women have benefited from Title IX than from pay equity in an elite professional sport.

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