Pre-ramble: I want to branch-out with my storytelling, go beyond the climbing world and into more mainstream markets. I think I could touch more people that way. As with my last post, for example. And I’ve been dabbling with filmmaking, although my latest offering didn’t make it into Sundance. I had my all-black outfit and hipster haircut ready, and practiced wearing my sunglasses inside after dark, but they never called (whatever, their loss). It makes me realize that working in steps – mainstream sports first, perhaps – might be a wise strategy. As such, unveiling a solution to a serious problem could propel me to the next level. I think the college football season just ended, and though I didn’t hear of any controversy this year, in general their Bowl Championship Series sucks. Even I know that. But unlike all those sportswriter pundits, I have a solution. I’m coming for their jobs – unless Sundance calls me first.
“We made a mistake,” Mike Tranghese told an Associated Press writer a few years ago. Tranghese, then the Big East conference commissioner, was that year’s—I can’t remember which, but pick a year—head of college football’s Bowl Championship Series. The system was designed to ensure an undisputed champion while maintaining the tradition-steeped post-season bowl-game system, but it repeatedly fails, leaving fans and hard-working athletes who also go to college toiling with the unknown until the next year when, maybe, the BCS will work.
The solution, however, is so obvious that I’m surprised nobody’s thought of it sooner. Everyone knows that the real way to determine a true champion is through a playoff system, like college basketball does with their 64-team championship tournament (I think it starts soon). But in football, colleges fear damage to tradition, the bowl game folks fear the loss of money, and there is, of course, the issue of football’s physicality. Following the regular season—which can not and should not be eliminated because of economic stimulus to the towns hosting the games and the need to keep college athletes in classes all fall—an 8- or 16-team playoff would drag on far too long, naysayers say, because players need at least a week to recover between the physically punishing games. But a 64-team playoff tournament, if approached properly, would juke all of these issues and, finally, give us an undisputed champion.
Simple: flag football.
For one, a full-contact regular season followed by a flag football post-season would introduce an exciting new strategic element for coaching staffs. Once a team knows they’ll receive a playoff invitation they might opt to pull some of their best players, to keep them fresh and injury free for the Flag Season (which the playoffs will certainly, eventually, be called).
It’ll also help solve our country’s growing obesity problem. Currently, most football fans are clearly overweight. But what are they to do? Nobody could expect them to go out and actually play football because, without the expensive pads, they would get hurt. Health experts say that “lifetime activities”—games or sports in which people can participate throughout their lifespan—are crucial in the obesity war. The flag football players would be tremendous role models, spokesmen for lifetime physical activity. After a hearty session of cheering, the fans would imitate their on-field heroes and play their own games of flag rather than dive into alcohol- and food-binge depression (when their team loses) or alcohol- and food-binge celebrations (when their team wins).
Though politicians and Real ‘Mericans alike would surely admonish the lack of violence as a means of settling disputes, we might find solace in kinder and gentler ways. Replace the post-hit smack talking: “Take that bitch, booyaaa!” with a perky, “Got your flag!”
The flag solution is also non-discriminatory, a big bonus in these politically correct times. Size discrimination has long run rampant in football, and eliminating post-season tackling helps level the playing field. Only the most talented athletes, free from sizism’s bias, would emerge victorious.
Finally, the economic impact—because it’s all about the economy, stupid. Flag Season could return our economy to the PBD (Pre-Bush-Disaster) years. It would create additional jobs for commoners selling peanuts, beer, and chamomile tea during the games, and help justify tax cuts for billionaire stadium owners—a true bipartisan solution. Equipment manufacturers would still get their money from the regular season, as would medical providers and insurance jackals. Factories in Asia would sew the flag belts, therefore bringing money to impoverished nations and instilling a valuable work ethic in their youth.
The 63 games wouldn’t take long because, as we remember from high school gym class and college intramurals, you can play a couple of flag football games in a single day. No “week off” sissification necessary. Greater productivity. The games could be hosted by the current 34 (or whatever it’s up to now) bowl games, keeping them happy, while creating opportunities for 29 new bowl games. Again, good for the economy.
The harshest critics, the fundamentalists, surely think such a proposal absurd because, they’ll say, you gotta have tackling to have real football. But there’s no tackling allowed in basketball, and their playoff works fine.