Football: Facing Flaws Of America's Game
Teddy Roosevelt once came down hard on football so disturbed was he
by its violence. If it hadn't survived, we can only imagine how
different the face of the American sports landscape would be today.
Perhaps soccer would be king, the United States would be the World
Cup champion several times over, National Soccer League
doubleheaders would be televised every Sunday, and college teams
and fans would be fixated on who's No. 1.
Doubtless, some of the attendant problems associated with big-time
college football would be part of the package. But one has to
wonder, too, if some of the problems would largely drop out.
Two garnering attention at the moment - criminal charges against
three University of Nebraska players and almost embarrassingly
lopsided scores by several teams - logically could occur in any
sport. That they exist in football, as currently constituted,
however, should not seem especially surprising.
Below some of the surface flaws of the sport, perhaps the root
cause of some of its challenges are the excessive number of
athletic scholarships awarded. The number of scholarships any
single program may award has been trimmed from 100 to 85, and still
many coaches howl, claiming that the quality of the game will
But who ever said college football had to look like the
professional game to be entertaining, which shouldn't be the main
Fewer scholarships, for one, would force coaches to be more careful
in what kind of students they recruit for their programs and would
also give them smaller flocks to tend. If this happened, wouldn't
some of the off-field problems diminish? And with a greater
dispersal of quality players, maybe the playing field would be more
level, and fewer scores like 77-17, 77-28, and 66-14 would appear
in Sunday papers, as they did over the weekend.
Touching other bases
*Pop quiz: How many innings must be played before a major-league
baseball game goes in the book? (Answer appears below.)
*Baseball's new, expanded playoff format may hold nightmarish
possibilities for a team like the Boston Red Sox, who are currently
running away with the American League East race. The New York
Yankees, their fiercest rivals, could still qualify for the
playoffs as a wild card and win the American League championship.
Since the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920, the
Yankees have won the World Series 22 times, Boston none. In their
most recent encounter, New York swept Boston in a three-game series.
*Unlike its outdoor progenitor, where goals are hard to come by,
indoor soccer generally produces bushels of them. In fact, until
last month no team in the Continental Indoor Soccer League had ever
been shut out. …