[Masthead] Fair ~ 71°F  
High: 76°F ~ Low: 54°F
Thursday, May 5, 2016

Basic Biittner : This is football?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I guess I must be getting old. I guess I should have suspected as much when it first dawned on me that the only time I listen to "new" music these days is when an old favorite artist of mine, like Van Morrison, Bob Dylan or Neil Young, releases a CD of new material (although, come to think of it, I haven't really listened much to their last 2-3 releases, either).

Another clue should have been this - When I watch a ball game on the tube and see a player's jersey number, my mind identifies the number on that team's jersey with someone who wore it previously, like in '60s or '70s ... I could probably go on and on about these "clues," but I'll spare you that.

The thing I've been noticing lately though, is that, I seem to be talking more and more about how things used to be in the "good old days." A sure sign of one's aging.

In my case, in watching pro football games lately, I can't help but notice how prevalent deliberately knocking the ball out of an offensive player's grasp has become. In the old days, defensive players could maybe knock the ball loose if the ball carrier was carrying it "like a sack of bread." as Coach Hodam used to say, but these days pro teams actually work on stripping the ball from the ball carrier, even if the offensive player has what seems to be a firm grasp on the ball. I'm sorry, but that just doesn't seem like the football game I first came to know and love way back when. It totally wipes out what has often been an outstanding run with some nasty thug bullying. Not good, IMHO.

Another part of the game that I'm not too crazy about - and it happens in both college and professional games - is the frequent occurrence of a quarterback "spiking" the ball deliberately as a means of stopping the clock without "wasting" a timeout.

The first time I saw this happen, my immediate reaction was "intentional grounding!" Of course, that particular penalty, though I believe it still exists, is very, very rarely called by college and pro officials these days. In fact, I believe the "intentional grounding bird" has joined the "traveling" and "3 second rule" birds as extinct creatures in the world of college and professional sports.

Another thing that I have never comprehended is just what constitutes illegal use of hands or holding in these sports these days? Used to be when one blocked in football, he kept his arms close in to his body. And in basketball, if one touched his opponent at all, it was just a light touch on the back to kind of make sure he was there.

What has happened to all these things? They were all there when these sports first became popular. I certainly don't remember anyone complaining about their existence. Yet, they have vanished from the game just as surely as have a good, solid tackle around the upper legs or any other number of former "fundamentals."

I guess what happened is this: players got bigger, stronger and faster; t.v. networks and rich alumni threw increasingly large sums of money at teams. leagues, conferences, et al; ESPN was created, and started showing game highlights 24/7; and all involved profited.

Except the true sports fan, who already loved the sports '"as they were."

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner