Six Major Travesties in the World of Sports

Notre Dame getting into bowl games is just wrong. Then, there's "INVESCO" Field at Mile High. And synchronized swimming? Really?
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There are few things in life as satisfying as the thrill of sports. We fans live and die by our teams of choice, rooting through thick and thin and relishing every moment.

But not everything is perfect in the world of athletic competition. In fact, there are major travesties occurring in the sports world all the time. Here are six of them.

1. Synchronized Swimming

Raise your hand if you know who took home the gold medal in this event in the 2004 Olympics. OK, the three of you who just raised your hands are in for a ribbing now.

Don't get me wrong, I have tremendous respect for the abilities of those that take part in this activity. Anything that involves carefully choreographed movements in water while not touching the bottom of the pool is way out of my league unless I'm allowed to wear water wings, so I'm not about to debate whether it's a sport or not. I just don't want to have it mixed in with the rest of the Olympic programming.

Yes, this activity is sort of oddly impressive, but no, that does not make it more exciting than watching paint dry. Maybe one day, networks will take notice and stop subjecting my eyeballs to this spectacle every four years, but I won't hold my breath. (Ha!)

2. Notre Dame football

As an avid college football fan, I have no problem recognizing historical significance, but anyone who still finds the Fighting Irish relevant in today's college football landscape needs to take their Lou Holtz poster off the wall and pop "Rudy" out of the DVD player.

The fact is, Notre Dame has lost nine straight bowl games dating back to 1995, almost none of them even coming close to being an Irish victory. The school fired Coach Tyrone Willingham after one excellent and two mediocre seasons in order to hire "offensive guru" Charlie Weiss, who then had two great seasons with Willingham's recruits before last year's 3-9 debacle that will go down as one of Notre Dame's worst seasons ever. And yet, the school still remains a media darling.

I, on the other hand, remain dumbfounded.

The program is the only one in the country to have every home game televised nationally, as well as to have every home game broadcast on national radio. Because when I think can't-miss football, I think of a 3-9 team taking on Navy in the hopes of making it just far enough to get embarrassed in another undeserved bowl game. Yeah, right!

The only place where Notre Dame is relevant at this stage is in talk of college football's storied past.

3. ESPN

The love-hate relationship that I have with the Worldwide Leader in Sports is one that many a sports fan has endured over the past several years.

ESPN

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has gone from a premier source of sports news and coverage to a tolerable source of it mixed in with shameless self-promotion and a decreasing stock of on-air talent.

Once the headliners of the channel's biggest shows, Stuart Scott and Chris Berman now seem to be stuck in a time warp where they forget they've been doing the same jokes for the past 10 years, and some other talking heads think that the only way to make a point is to scream it, as opposed to backing it up with actual reasoning.

That, of course, is to say nothing of the station's utterly horrendous "Who's Now" or "Titletown USA" segments (make that "time-fillers") on Sportscenter, the attempt at wooing the reality-show crowd with "Dream Job." How about those celebrity interviewers like Nick Lachey, who has the journalistic qualifications of a moose?

And don't forget fake news conferences with real ESPN reporters asking questions of fake GMs (seriously -- this actually happened -- and if you've forgotten it, I envy you).

4. Stadium Naming Rights

There was a time when a sports franchise's home field was named after the team itself or someone important to the franchise. Lambeau Field, Dolphin Stadium, the Metrodome. These are names that make sense to some degree or another.

What doesn't make sense are The University of Phoenix Stadium or

INVESCO

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Field at Mile High. I can understand that football is about big business these days, and that the best way to help pay for a new stadium is to sell the naming rights, but can't there be a rule about what those naming rights entail? The road signs directing you to "INVESCO Field at Mile High" probably span across eight lanes of traffic in order to fit it all in.

Don't forget, too, that Denver voters approved a bond issue to build a new stadium for the Broncos -- and polls showed they were willing to pay more to keep the "Mile High Stadium" name. But greed won out in the end, and the INVESCO ridiculousness was born.

And the Arizona Cardinals naming their stadium after a university that doesn't even have a football program, nor is relegated solely to the city of Phoenix, is a mind-boggler. If anything, I would've thought the Cardinals could have chosen a school's name that more accurately reflected their level of play, like Clown College.

5. The BCS System

Complaining about a lack of playoffs in college football is almost as big a sports cliché as hating the Yankees, but I'm no less passionate about it and honestly can't understand why anyone who's not a BCS executive would be against a playoff system.

The NCAA claims that it's not acceptable because it would take too long and get in the way of player's schooling. Apparently, the NCAA has also hidden under a rock every March and knows nothing of that little men's basketball tournament that lasts a full month, and captures the attention of most of America for that whole time.

No, the real reason the powers-that-be are loath to do away with the BCS format is because each bowl game pulls in an amount of money that eclipses the gross national product of most small countries.

So, we are forced to deal with computerized rankings that determine who should play for the national championship, leading to the almost yearly (there have been rare exceptions) tradition of a lopsided title game, often at the expense of a school that rhymes with "Ohio State."

Until we switch to a round-robin playoff format instead of the typical lineup of BCS games, we will wonder if the real best school in the nation got the championship trophy, or if they were left out in the cold because the computers didn't get the rankings right again.

6. Meaningless Bowl Games

Besides whining about the lack of a college football playoff, there may be no tradition in sports better than the pastime of "pick the worst bowl name this year."

If you said "the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl," you may be on the right track. "The Meineke Car Care Bowl" would also be an acceptable answer.

I'm pretty sure anyone with a shred of football knowledge and a valid photo ID can get a bowl game created and named after them these days. The downside to college football being such a money machine is that we are now stuck with about 15 bowl games more than any of us could care to watch.

Show me a casual fan who wants to see Cincinnati take on Southern Mississippi in a game in the middle of Alabama, and I'll show you someone who probably lives for televised synchronized swimming as well.

Just because a team has a bowl-eligible record doesn't mean we need to create a game for them. If we can't have a playoff system, then just get rid of the bottom tier of bowl games and leave us with a much more manageable and enjoyable slate of games that we're actually interested in watching.

The five BCS games already make enough money to erase our national debt, no one would miss the extra few dollars from the New Mexico Bowl, anyway.