I try to avoid all curmudgeonly topics because there’s nothing I hate more than a sports writer who seems to hate sports.
Alright, that’s not exactly true. There are many things I hate more than that, but still, it’s pretty annoying.
We’re right in the middle of college football bowl season and the Rainbow Warriors finished off their 2016 campaign in the Hawaii Bowl, Saturday at Aloha Stadium. As I type this sentence, Hawaii has stormed back to a 28-14 lead after a disastrous start. It’s good to see them not fold after some early adversity.
Hawaii had a pretty good year, but finished with a 6-7 record that was aided by narrow wins over low-quality opponents UMass and UT Martin. Context is important, so this was a better season than Hawaii has had in years, finishing 4-4 in Mountain West play. Coach Nick Rolovich should be proud of his team’s performance and fight throughout a year that included a gutsy quarterback switch, a ton of travel and some untimely difficulty holding on to the football.
That being said, I can’t really come up with a good definition for bowl season anymore. There are 80 teams playing bowl games, 20 of them with non-winning records. The games can be fun trips for schools that aren’t in the national championship picture and they can provide some added exposure for kids who may otherwise go unseen on a national stage. In that regard, they serve a purpose that doesn’t really have any negatives.
But was anyone really excited for this Hawaii Bowl? Will the result really influence anyone’s opinion of what the ‘Bows have or haven’t accomplished this season? If anyone who knew nothing about football asked why these teams were playing this game, I’d have a tough time putting together a coherent response.
Are they both good teams?
Well, Middle Tennessee went 8-4 and Hawaii went 6-7, so they’re both sort of good, but not really.
Are they rivals?
Well, no, they’ve actually played just once before, 23 years ago.
Did they have to do anything to earn a spot in this game?
Well, teams used to have to have a winning season, then they could have a .500 season, now they can sometimes get invited with a losing record.
Does anything happen if they win?
Well, no, they’re just able to say they won a bowl game, which is now basically just like any other non-conference game.
I’m supposed to know about this stuff and I sound like a kid giving a book report after only reading the cover jacket.
Look, more football is always fine. More chances for college athletes to play is always fine. Most players aren’t going to the NFL, so one more opportunity to put on the uniform and run out of the tunnel is fine.
It’s all just fine.
But there really isn’t any tangible consequence for 90 percent of the bowl games. There are fewer repercussions for the Hawaii Bowl than for a random Indians-Tigers baseball game in May.
I don’t see the need to do away with any of the bowl games because their only negative impact is on my fleeting sense of why they should exist, which doesn’t have any real value. But it’s become increasingly difficult for me to feel the need to invest any time watching or devoting additional brain power.
In the movie “Ocean’s Eleven,” when hearing about the planned heist, Brad Pitt asks “Why do this?”
George Clooney’s quick response is “Why not do it?”
That’s sort of where I feel we are with bowl games. I’m not sure there is a fix or if one is necessary. There are just these games that exist for a few weeks before we crown a national champion. They’re played just to be played and maybe that should be enough. Maybe that’s the purest form of sport there is. I just wish there was a little more at stake.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.