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Soap Opera in Helmets


SOMETHING ought to be done about football on television. It is too much to hope that it can be eliminated altogether because there are a lot of people who still take it seriously even though college players have a lot to do with money and not much to do with education.

One problem with modern television football is that a team, physically, or maybe mentally, isn't able to play an entire game. They play only half a game or less. As soon as one team ``loses'' the ball to their opponents they are summoned off the field and a new team, which is less tired, is put in for defense. In the meantime individual players are constantly exchanged, depending on their specialized ability or uninjured condition. For instance, one person is sent in just to kick a field goal. I think they keep his foot warm while on the bench.

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I wonder when other sports will learn to specialize. Maybe tennis players could send someone else in to serve.

Another phenomenon is that a play can take only four or five seconds, then the clock is stopped to allow the players to stand around giving ``high fives,'' slapping backsides, or hugging each other. This is also a time when referees do a lot of talking back and forth, making a date for dinner, or whatever. Then they blow a whistle and play is resumed for another five or six seconds.

It is a sad day for anyone waiting to see a program that follows a football game because the posturing goes on ad infinitum in 10 second interludes. Each performance is milked to death. Not only is every play shown twice but most of the players get a chance on camera to do a specialty number: dance, pray, pose, or jog around with hand aloft.

The teams have colorful, if misleading, names, like Gators, Panthers, Tigers, and the like. One of the names born out of fantasy is Fighting Irish - since it can be hard to find an Irishman anywhere in the Notre Dame lineup. Taking TV football as a whole it seems a lot of colleges have drafted players merely for their ability to run the entire length of a football field. Also many oversize, Sumo-types are enlisted who apparently wear the same size collar as hat.

Somewhere I hope college football is played just for fun and not as a Soap Opera.

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