Since when did we start caring so much about the length of sporting events? MLB’s rush to shorten games seems like a direct response to society’s inability to be bored for any length of time. My favorite thing to do on the train in the morning is tally the people who aren’t looking at their phones and/or aren’t listening to earbuds. There’s what like 20-25 candidates that I can see, and usually, there’s one, maybe two commuters also enjoying the sound of silence. [Editor’s note: Hello darkness, my old friend]
Those are my people, and I bet they’re not concerned about the increasing length of college football games. As reported by The Athletic, the battle lines have been drawn, and everyone, including (and primarily) TV, wants to fix the problem that is a three-and-a-half-hour college football game. They’re really trying to acquiesce to viewers’ diminishing attention spans, and the only way to do that is to run TikTok videos instead of commercials, or simply split screen it and someone splat a pie into an unsuspecting schmuck’s face every 10 minutes.
I would like to know who is complaining about the length of a leisure activity lasting longer. What the fuck do you gotta do? Get back to your house so you can hit the sofa and social media? Maybe you wouldn’t be so busy if you weren’t constantly trying to think of a witty retort for that troll. The energy exerted staring at a phone is insane, and it warped people into thinking there are not enough hours in the day for downtime.
The culprit is the incompletions, not refs’ incompetence
So if games are taking longer, what’s the reason? According to numbers, the influx of pass-heavy offenses — and their clock-stopping incompletions — are extending games, and the proposed fix is to run the clock even after a pass hits the turf. College football used to stop the clock after first downs, and still does that until the ball is spotted and set, but it runs after that.
If the length of games really is an epidemic and ruining more lives than just those of bloated TV execs, then by all means adopt a running clock. Make this high school or pee wee rules, and add the football equivalent of a 10-run rule. Fuck it, just run EA Sports College Football 2014 simulations in lieu of the actual contests so we don’t have to watch at all.
What’s crazy to me is the 50,000 reviews that take place every Saturday. The challenges are called in from the booth, and one can only assume the guys upstairs are every bit as worthless as the zebras on the field. Refs stare at that little screen for eons, with a headset on that might as well be piping in Enya, because after a commercial break to get it right, it takes another examination to account for the clock.
Gary Danielson is 71 years old, and he’s consistently ahead of the officials by a good five minutes on the CBS call. The NCAA generates billions of dollars in revenue, and it can’t expand the resources of the replay employees beyond (I’m assuming) three retired refs and a video operator for 15,000 games?
If a call is so terrible and outcome-altering that we need another round of ads from Jake from State Farm, a coach should have to initiate the review and risk blowing a timeout to look at the spot of a third-and-six catch that would’ve been a first down, had the receiver ran the route to the sticks.
There are ideally 14 days a year that college football fans get to watch their team, and because some money-hungry loaf wishes the run-time better fit into a TV window of his design, we have to shorten the amount of time we get to spend with said team. Screw that.
Football games should be an afternoon-long affair. The pregame snacks should be sitting out to such a degree that one weighs the odds of food poisoning after three-plus hours on the buffet. The best kind of Tostitos cheese dip is the lukewarm, half-crusted over not-quite-liquid-but-not-quite-solid salsa con queso that you have to scrape off with a chip. It’s a scientific process to get there, and it requires three to three-and-a-half hours for the fermentation to take place.
I understand the concern with baseball because not having a defined run time, or a pitch clock, for a 162-game season can turn a nine-inning game into a cricket match, and lead to guys sandbagging it to recoup their arm for the next pitch. Football is modern-day gladiators though. Players are putting their livelihoods on the line and sprinting full speed into each other. This shouldn’t be some easily digestible content with a perfectly tied bow at the three-hour and 15-minute mark.
It’s only fair that there’s a toll exacted on spectators as well, and whether it’s blocking off a four-hour window on a Saturday, or the physical tax felt by an endless procession of beer and bar food, it can’t be rushed. Stop meddling with my sports because technology has made mankind fearful of boredom.
If you have somewhere else better to be, fine. I don’t. I got all day. Now pass me a pillow. I need a 20-, 30-minute siesta to have enough zest for the evening slate.