27 November 2007

Are There Any Stewards of the Game?

Monday's Steelers-Dolphins game was just another reminder of how the last bastion of sports/competitive integrity (the NFL) has fallen by the wayside. There was a time where the NFL was the model of how to run a sports league, how to stay true to the game while driving a business and marketing juggernaut. While other leagues invented moronic gimmicks to theoretically pull in viewers (e.g., NASCAR's Chase, small parks and steroids in baseball), the NFL understood that it had the best game in town if it continued to protect the game and the fans.

On the heels of the NFL Network's exclusionary stance toward the American public, the NFL/Steelers/ESPN/Vegas/whomever decided to play a football game on what Steve Young continually called "...a bog." I only caught the last quarter of the game, but it was a farce. In European soccer, it is commonplace for the pitch (field) to be deemed unplayable due to a variety of factors, and a game is then postponed to the following day or a future date. It is so rare that a situation like last night's occurs in the NFL, but they did a huge disservice to everyone involved by forcing the players to take the field. If Hines Ward or Jason Taylor had torn an ACL on consecutive plays with their foot stuck in the muck, would that have been enough to abandon play? Was the Machine that sacred that the game could not have been rescheduled? Was it fine since the Dolphins are winless and the Steelers boring down on the playoffs? Would it have been just as well if the Jaguars had been in Pittsburgh or the Chargers or Browns?

NFL, you are better than this. You owe the Steelers and Dolphins an apology, as well as the rest of the teams in the league.

Pittsburgh-Gazette story on the field
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