Musings of Maestro R: Things to Continue, Things to Stop

(By Richard A. Rampello)

Sports and Entertainment is almost like a compound word, rather than nouns buttressed around a conjunction, and there is a reason: sports are a form of entertainment. Yet to assert just that is a shallow and incomplete view.

My point is there are things in both industries I would to stop, others I really want to continue, especially when they coincide. For example, I love the referee’s mic-on commercial for State Farm, although its novelty is slightly worn. In addition to that, I have enjoyed the recycled Lowe’s ads about the existence of football selves, because men react to potential loss, not so much threats to take away. Bo Jackson’s “Strongest of the Strong” I can do without, because “hit me with the smell good” gets “old pretty fast” (totally intentional).

Thing to stop: Celebrations after a play that has not decided anything, specifically in football. A tackle after six yards on a first down is not celebratory. There are potentially two additional plays. A sack on third down is fine. A tackle on special teams is your job. Go back to the sideline.

Thing to continue: Nicknames. Chris Baker had two sacks in replacing Stephen Paea versus Philadelphia. It was fun hearing that “Big Swaggy” had two takedowns. “Pot Roast” speaks for itself, while I enjoyed Floyd “Pork Chop” Womack. It makes me miss Doug a little bit too, although Doug “Muscle Hamster” Martin is not in love with that sobriquet. Chris Berman generated a media interest and fandom like few others, and I do not want to lose that. Even Boobie Dixon has some fun in it, as it is more a testament to Boobie Clark, the old halfback.

Thing to stop: An old one that I thankfully did not have to witness after the Red River Rivalry, one that has requested to be stopped by better known penmen than I, and that is the storming of the field or place of play. An Arizona college basketball player had a stroke years ago as a reaction to a mass mosh.

Thing to continue: The hip hip hooray tossing of Charlie Strong after Texas’s upset. Not the Gatorade bath, that’s a Super Bowl thing (so please stop that), but what a rebound from players tweeting requests and desires to split town. It was genuine, it was an incredible display of coaching and it is a galvanizing moment. I love raw integrity and emotion. Charging the field and cutting down the goal post is hollow. Savor the memory, don’t force the keepsake.

Thing to stop: Acting like you accomplished something that was pure chance and luck. A receiver coming down out of bounds when you gave too much cushion is not a look at me moment. No, it should be a quiet moment of internal serenity and thanksgiving; the same thing after dropped passes. You did nothing. And with that, calling defenders in basketball great for over-physical or questionable tactics, even when creativity is exerted, needs a cease and desist order. Yes, I am talking about Shane Battier’s let us cover their eyes when they shoot move. How is that fundamental? We are bordering on Patriots’ territory here. I’m just saying.

Thing to continue: A return to old. I don’t miss perceived thug play in basketball, or even hockey (Raffi Torres, anyone?). But I love Jim Harbaugh’s style of play. Enough in passing game, minimize mistakes, win the minutiae on special teams, force the ball down the field (you hear Hank Stram, deny it not) behind a full back and play suffocating, smart, heavy hitting, good tackling defense. It is playoff football, it is a game that you hear pundits proclaim “travels well” and it can be continuously dominant. Three straight shutouts had me pausing to ponder.

Thing to stop: Devaluing wins and overvaluing other factors, including losses. How can Alabama theoretically be ranked higher than Florida? The Gators take apart Ole Miss, which has consecutive wins over the Crimson Tide, yet they were 11th in the country, Alabama eighth (since changed). I understand a team ranked just in the Top 25 (literally 25) the prior week should not enter the Top 10, but does Alabama drop after thumping Georgia because they blew a lead to Tennessee, a team that should have beaten Florida two weeks before, you know, when Alabama did lose? This becomes a main argument for not permitting rankings until a certain time in the season, namely when the College Football Playoff Board starts voting. Stop the SEC love fest. We lost Brent Musberger to it. The last two winners of it all are from the ACC and Big Ten, respectively.

Thing to continue: Accepting greatness. Kershaw’s great, Grienke is impressive, Bumgarner incredible. Aaron Rodgers is wonderful. Petersen is the closest thing the league has had to Bo Jackson since his hip did a double check. Even Peyton Manning and Tom Brady receive a hand on the hat, if you will. Forget not Julio Jones, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and those that love LeBron. Women’s soccer needs a shout out, also.

So to end, please fire the following folks: Phil Simms, Kevin Harlan, Kenny Albert, Greg Gumbel, Bill Cowher, Boomer Esaison, Michael Irvin, maybe Daryl Johnston, reassign Marshall Faulk, definitely can Hines Ward and especially Phil Simms, because Phili-Bluster Simms is destroying my will to watch. I’ll end positively, though, because I do like Kurt Warner.

Richard A. Rampello is the author of the column Musings of Maestro R.

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