Saturday, January 06, 2007

One Good Result of the Rose Bowl

Of all the people I expected to write that college football is much better in person, Bill Simmons is about the last one. On the one hand, I shouldn't really care what the enemy has to say about something that I hold dear. On the other hand, there's no better confirmation for your beliefs than when the enemy admits that you're right. It would be like George Bush having a Rose Garden ceremony on Monday afternoon and admitting that maybe it wasn't such a great idea to expect to occupy Iraq with 140,000 troops. Or maybe it wasn't a terrific idea for the balance sheet to slash taxes while not cutting spending, adding a massive new Medicare benefit, increasing farm subsidies, and funding the War on Terror. I digress. Anyway, here is Bill Simmons coming to the conclusion that most rational people who have attended a major college football game and an NFL game have reached:

Along those same lines, there's really no comparison between attending a big NFL game and attending a big college football game. Between the tailgates, cheerleaders, marching bands and fight songs, the life-or-death mentality of the fan bases, the pace of the games, the purity of the experience itself ... it's just not close. College football crushes pro football as a spectator sport. And it's mainly because of the TV timeouts (endless in the NFL), the canned/predictable songs blaring from the PA system (they're the same in every NFL stadium) and the lifeless, state-of-the-art stadiums that every NFL owner builds now, where they separate the levels with luxury boxes and diehard fans are trapped in the nosebleeds 200-250 feet from the field. Of the newer NFL stadiums, only Seattle's seems to provide a real home-field advantage, and that's only because Paul Allen hired someone to figure out how the layout of a stadium could reflect noise (the answer: through aluminum seats and a specially constructed end zone section). It's just not that fun to go to an NFL game anymore. College? Very fun. And the Rose Bowl was almost surreal. All in all, one of my favorite days in awhile.

And it also bears noting that Simmons saw a game between USC and Michigan, teams with good fan bases, but not on the level of intensity of an Ohio State, a Nebraska, or an SEC team. Simmons is also used to New England games on the NFL level, which I would have to presume are on the upper end of intensity for the NFL. This is one step removed from me going to Falcons games and coming away unimpressed because the Falcons have always taken a back seat to college football in terms of the priorities of most area football fans. The Patriots are pretty much the sole focus of football fans in New England, although I suppose the argument could be made that the Red Sox function to the Patriots the way college football functions for the Falcons.

I think you could see Simmons' progression towards realizing that college games are a more genuine, exciting experience this summer when he lamented the loss of his old Celtics experience. Leaving Boston and coming to Southern California is probably good for him because he never got to experience big-time college football in New England and is now tasting the forbidden fruit for the first time. There is a My Summer of Love parallel here that I'm not quite comfortable making. (Speaking of which, am I a bad football fan for missing part of the Sugar Bowl because My Summer of Love was on HBO? And am I a bad movie fan for watching a quality indie flick solely for prurient reasons?)

No comments: