micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
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Monday, December 29, 2003
...on the field
What I find interesting is not any of the various proposed remedies but rather that the idea that things should be settled "on the field" is seen as ideal by just about everyone (although some correctly say such a solution may be impractical). What nobody acknowledges is that all "championships" are subjective in that the rules do not have to be that way. What's up with pass interference or facemasks? It is football. If they want to paralyze each other, that's there right. And why shouldn't every player be on the offensive side be an "eligible receiver"? That might make for a more exciting game.
In basketball, why should the college teams have a tournament to decide who the "national champion" is? Such tournaments are full of odd match-ups and flukes that could, and regularly do, throw the whole thing into flux. Why not make each series best two out of three? (But then, if you do that, why not best 3 out of 5? And so on.) Why should any team have the chance to win the "national championship" if they are not the "champion" of their own conference? Seems to me that it is impossible to be the best team amongst all teams in a grouping if you are not the best team in even one sub-grouping? And why the hell is there a shot clock? If a team wants to get a two-point lead and milk it for the rest of the game, why not? I highly doubt any of the world's religious documents forbid that.
The point is not that any of these changes should or shouldn't be made but rather that there is an arbitrary nature to the rules of these games. If these rules had been different in the past (and keep in mind the above examples were just a few that popped into my head while writing this, there are many many many more), large chunks of sports history would be different. But nobody says UCLA really didn't win eight straight championships in men's college basketball. Why? Because those championships happened on the field, which is generally seen followers of and participants in these sports as natural and not something to be questioned. The obvious exception being when a rule has been changed, but even then the change is viewed as having interrupted the "natural" order of things. But, as I've demonstrated here, there is nothing "natural" about that and the only way to believe any championship is "real" is to believe (determine) that the rules under which it happened were legitimate, at least for that time. Once an individual starts arguing for rule changes they are effectively critiquing the validity of the current system to determine “winners.”
While religion and sports appear to be at odds elsewhere, the controversy over the BCS process seems to be an example of an ostensibly secular activity that has a very religious foundation. Amongst other things, Slavoj Zizek argues in his appropriately titled 2001 text On Belief (Routledge) that this is a common phenomenon in the current period.
Henry McDonald makes a compelling argument for keeping church and state separate in a November 2 Observer piece entitled "Secular salvation." On practical grounds I agree with him but on theoretical grounds I have problems with statements such as this:
...nor does the defence of secularism diminish the private beliefs of worshippers today. In fact, by retreating from temporal power religion will no longer be soiled by the messy compromises and dirty dealing of politics.It seems absurd to me to expect people who believe they practice the on true faith -as many, though certainly not all, religious people do- to not want to enter the world of politics because the system isn't perfect. Shouldn't they be trying to correct it? And how could an all-powerful God who wants to be worshipped by all humans (for reasons that relate to low self-esteem or something) accept that there is not something wrong with the primary governing institutions of humans being devoid of his influence?
I often wonder how people can just put up with the dishonesty of Team Bush. Perhaps the "Santa Claus" phenomenon is in effect. I believed in Santa for a number of my younger years and when it occurred to me that the whole story didn't make sense -why would a guy with so much ability limit himself to toys? why didn't he distribute food and medicine to those in need throughout the year?- I wasn't mad at my parents. Now I feel I like I should have been, but I wasn't then and I'm still not now.