Coaches are ruining my mojo. This is not a quote from Allan Iverson.
I am becoming more convinced by the day that the only job of a coach is to make sports less fun to watch. As a spectator I wish to be entertained. When I attend sporting events, I would prefer to see feats of strength, agility, and athletic prowess that are fit to impress. You are in the top 1% percent of humans in physical attributes Mr. Athlete – amuse me! I want to see big catches and spin-o-ramas and alley-oops. No one shares YouTube highlights of a linebacker having perfect outside containment on a running back. No one wants to see this. We either want to see the linebacker or the running back detonated in a violent confrontation, a no holds barred physics deathmatch for our own pleasure. Two players enter, but only one must return. Someone about to get run over.
Coaches appear to me to be hell bent on preventing this from happening. Mistakes are ever coaches mortal enemy. Mistakes, however, are what makes sports exciting. This places coaches and excitement in direct opposition to each other. To coaches, sports must be made safe for boredom, because boring games mean no one screws up. When no one screws up, no one gets fired! Mistake free games make for excitement free games.
Let me begin with hockey.
Hockey provides the clearest example of how coaching can murder any semblance of excitement. The mid to late 90’s saw a complete collapse of hockey as a form of entertainment. Players were allowed to tackle one another to prevent scoring. Coaches encouraged no one to forecheck so as to leave as little space as possible for an opponent to work with in the neutral zone. This has been referred to as “the Trap” based on the technical terminology developed by, guess who, the coaches. Coaches were trying to win games by a score of 0-0.
I’ve tried to find some footage of the games from back then. Can’t find any. You know why? Because it gives people malaria. It will kill you without immediate medical attention. Ovechkin highlights? We got ‘em out the wazoo. Gimme a piece of some Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko? Only if they are blowing up peoples faces with their fists. Otherwise no one wants to see them suffocating a sport.
This didn’t develop by accident. This was a deliberate strategy designed to win games. “We can win because we allow 12 shots a night and our goaltender has pads that could protect him from atmospheric reentry.” I cannot begin to describe my utter disdain for those days. I hate everything about them. A league allowed coaches to dictate how a sport would be played, rather than those with all the talent. The attitude was actually hostile to the talent that got people paid. Larry Robinson is famous for a rant about complaining about “prima donna forwards” and their whining about not being able to “score 60 goals.” Yes, because everyone in the building was paying to see Darius Kasparaitis.
It took a lockout and an intense campaign of overreaction to any contact at all to make hockey somewhat like hockey again. For a little while it worked. Then coaches began to figure out how to take the air out of the puck again. The next time a game ends 6-5 and you’ve had the time of your life watching it, make a note to listen to the press conference afterwards. If a coach says “well its the kind of game coaches don’t like” then maybe we need less coaches. The highest evolution of your game cannot be non-entertainment. This is why no one in the United States watches the NHL. Buffalo doesn’t count because most Americans probably consider us part of Canada.
I don’t want to hear anymore of this “tightening up our game” and “taking care of business in our own end” junk. Make a play AthleteMan, or rather, make a mistake.
Some football, but first The Alan Parson Project. What, you would prefer Indie McIndie and the Flannel Shirts newest track “Manic Pixie Dreamboat”? It’s my damn blog post, and no one is forcing you to press play either. Jesus.
You know what? You just earned yourself some Spinners.
How can Republicans and Libertarians possibly watch football? It has to be the most over-regulated affair televised in our nations history. If it isn’t coaches dedicating 24 hours of their daytime to devising plans for a 60 minute game, its officials citing arbitrary, obtuse language when making often glaringly incorrect calls. Football is so minutely controlled; it’s very structure is designed for this. After every instance of action – every one – both teams stop to reassess and organize for the next instance of action. Basketball gets crap for how the end of games can seem to drag on due to the frequency of timeouts. To those, I say watch football with a stopwatch, and keep track of the time stuff actually happens. You will want to blow your brains out.
Ok, so now you might be saying “Hey! What about the coaches on offense? Don’t they get credit for scoring? They can’t be all bad.” Two to tango, Tex. Someone had to screw up in order for someone to take advantage of it. After a 60-yard bomb for a touchdown, the defensive coordinator is not going to be allowed to say “tough break, those guys are pretty good.” Oh no. Lets look at the film. Lets review the photos that were just taken of that play and faxed to the field two seconds ago. Absolute, minute control has to be exercised if teams are going to play mistake free sports.
But its the mistakes we love! The turnovers that lead to breakaways! The fumbles and interceptions that go for six! All of them happen because someone made an error.
Coaches are there to stop mistakes from happening, yet we love mistakes in one form or another, usually just when the other guy makes them. To athletes, I say completely screw up and entertain me.
Real dialog between husband and wife.
Husband: Do you like those slippers you bought?
Wife: Why, do you think I look stupid?
Moral: Wives, this is why your husband ignores you and watches football all Sunday.