Yet another football-related post.
Unfortunately, this past sunday, the Patriots beat the Colts 24-20, keeping their perfect season alive and allowing everyone at ESPN to open up a little bit wider and take the Patriots collective cock a bit further down their throat. Recently there was a good critique at the A/V Club about the problem with ESPN is that while it used to be a sympathetic yet good and critical outsider approach to sports (a la the New York Times) it has become a sycophantic sports-worship machine with posts filled by former athletes who will never question the game (a la the Wall Street Journal).
The current Patriots are a good case in point. The NFL is the un-disputed king of major league sports in America, but it jealously gaurds its place atop the sports mountain and is always clawing for new markets. And let us not forget the spectacular failure that has been their attempt to branch out into foreign markets, especially when compared with the success of baseball and basektball internationally. As such, the NFL, and it's underling ESPN, needs the Patriots. They need a team that's dominant, fun to watch, and yet ever-so-humble.
The problem is, the cracks are starting to show. For example, the Patriots are the most class-less team in all of professional sports, constantly running up the score. Two weeks ago, they even went for it on 4th and 1 with a 28 point lead in the 4th quarter, jsut to run up the score. What has the response been from the commentators at the major sports network? The consensus seems to be that if other teams have a problem with it, they should stop them. Much like the way I'm sure they would look at their mother getting raped on the street and say that if she has a problem with it, she should stop the guy, but that's fodder for a whole different post on the conservtaive individualism of sports broadcasting.
What no one seems to be pointing out (possibly because they've gotten a bit too cozy with each other) is the reason why the Patriots are so good:
Because they cheat.
They were caught illegally filming other team's practices to know their plays ahead of time. When they were caught, the league issued a fine and tried to bury the story, because as we've covered, they need the Patriots. But this does complicate the "if you don't like, play better" response: maybe the other teams (like the Colts) are playing well, but they aren't cheating.
And maybe we could cut out the praise of Bill Belicheck, the asshole who everyone thinks is a genius but already been proven to be nothing but a cheater with a bunch of good players. I think any coach could look like a genius if they knew what plays the other team was going to run.
For example, look at the coaches who have left. Remember how Charlie Weiss was an offensive genius? Well, now he's in charge of some of the greatest college football players in the nation, and yet cant score points to save his life, while the Fightin' Irish are en route to their worst season ever. Maybe it turns out that he's not so much as genius as it's really easy to look like one when you have the other guy's plays ahead of time.
All of which you think would make fodder for a great story, but not when the media needs this to go away just as much as the league does. Then there is no story. But the bigger problem is that when this happens with sports, it's annoying at worst. But the exact same process is going on with things that really matter (such as the impending war with Iran), and nobody's getting upset about that either. I guess it just goes to show that no one ever wants to question the motives of a Patriot, even when they're clearly lying.
UPDATE: Turns out Don Shula agrees with me.