7.14.2022 – configurations

fideistic fan devotion
emerged harmlessly

Fideistic got thrown out by spell check and that is sure sign that the word is worthy of being in a haiku.

Today’s haiku is adapted from the line, These teams in their ancient configurations, which emerged through years of slow, organic development, should be the objects of harmlessly fideistic devotion by fans, not subject to the ruthless pseudo-efficient corporate logic of endless acquisition, in the opinion piece, The Big Ten Is Growing, But All I See Is Decline, by Matthew Walther in the New York Times.

You can read it here –

Mr. Walther as might be guessed, was writing about college sports in general and the Big 10 and Pac 12 announcement of either a gain or a loss of two teams.

But it was this statement that expressed my feelings exactly about college sports except for the conclusion.

Like so many of history’s great tragedies — the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, the French Revolution, the end of ashtrays in cars — the decline of college football began with reasonable calls for reform. There really was something odd about the fact that Michigan and Nebraska, two undefeated football teams that had never played each other, were both able to call themselves the 1997 national champions. Surely, fans thought, it should be possible to come up with a system that determines who the real champion is. But it was precisely this uncertainty that once gave college football something of its idiosyncratic charm. To this day, in any dive bar in Michigan or Nebraska you can meet fans who will offer lovingly detailed arguments for why their team would have won 25 years ago if the two schools had faced off. (In 1998, a group of dedicated Nebraska fans went so far as to script and record a mock radio broadcast featuring the hypothetical matchup.)

These conversations were part of the sport’s appeal. They also belonged to a world in which college football was, in ways that are scarcely imaginable today, a regional and somewhat parochial affair. Who cared if a bunch of newspapermen decided (as they did in 1985) that Oklahoma was No. 1 and that a Michigan team with an identical record and its own victory in a major bowl game was No. 2? What mattered was winning rivalry games and conference championships.

Rivalries often involved implicit, class-based rooting interests: urban versus rural, research versus land grant, upper-middle-class professionals and the exurban working classes versus middle-class suburbia. These games were played for ancient, often absurd trophies such as the Old Brass Spittoon, which goes to the winner of the annual Indiana-Michigan State game.

When Mr. Walther wrote, … the decline of college football began with reasonable calls for reform. There really was something odd about the fact that Michigan and Nebraska … I saw this as the silver in the lining, not the sliver in the eye of college sports.

Mr. Walther states that ever since 1997, that season is still a daily presence in the lives of fans just because there was no clear winner.

When the Cubs finally one a World Series, I felt the price, that they won, was too high to give up the 100 years plus memories of trying.

How many teams have won ONE World Series since 1908?

So many dumb teams I tell you.

And how many teams had not won any?


But not anymore.

I can’t even name the year that it was that the Cubs won.

The price was too high

But that 1997 year when Scotty Frost apologized for not being able to pose with a rose in his teeth but please please please vote for my team.

Never ever ever forget.

I have a harmless fideistic devotion to a certain team.

That will not be changed by wins or losses or coaches or player commitments.

That will not change.

That there are folks that do change strikes me as too bad.

That those in charge of the game know there is enough of those people that all the ruthless pseudo-efficient corporate logic of endless acquisition is what makes the changes strikes also as too bad.

But I ain’t going change.

Go Blue!

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