Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The End of Fandom

Photo: hoyasmeg, Flickr Creative Commons

Last night marked a shift in my relationship to sports for the next eight months, more or less. From August through the first week of January each year, I'm a football fan addicted to the successes and failures of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL and even more so the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Believe it or not, I consider this to have been a great season overall as a fan for both teams. Sure the Falcons failed to make the playoffs, but they had a winning season. Even better that this winning season came immediately after the previous one, something that's never happened before. Besides, 9-7 in the NFL means something. Going 7-5 in college ball is actually a crappy season for the major schools. Things aren't so unbalanced in the NFL. Besides, 9-7 would have put the Falcons in the playoffs had they been in the AFC. Unfortunately, you had to be an 11-5 team just to earn a wild card in the NFC. Considering that I've been a lifelong fan of Atlanta sports teams with their traditions of mediocrity, I'm satisfied with that. All I ask is for a little hope for next season. I haven't always gotten that from the Falcons.

Georgia Tech may have had its normally high-powered offense manhandled by Iowas' stout D last night, but you know what? After watching Reggie Ball for four years, I'm not complaining about an 11-win team. Plus, in the second year running the triple option, the team only improved. I think this goes to show that Paul Johnson's offense isn't something that just needed to be figured out by opposing defenses before it failed at this level. The only way to really stop it is a very talented and very disciplined defense, the top of the league types. Too bad the Hawkeyes had one of those. Tech would have creamed Cincinnati.

Now that the seasons of those two teams are over, so is my time as a rabid fan. Instead of being an viewer of sports, I will turn for the next few months into more of a participant. I'm playing in two tennis tournaments this month before I have to more or less give up personal competition in exchange for coaching. The girls and boys teams I coach are coming off of region championships and deep playoff trips and, honestly, mid-January through mid-May is my favorite time of the year for my work. I love coaching tennis. It's incredible being able to work with kids who are there because they want to be. It's nice being able to help kids become more able to succeed because of what you can offer them. Of course, I'm more of a glorified cheerleader and sparring partner compared to the former pro player who is the community coach, but I'm okay with that. In two weeks, no matter how bad my day was at work, I'll be able to change into more comfortable clothes and be reminded that life's not as bad as you may start to think when confined in close spaces too long with the apathetic and bored.


Julie said...

I agree with you. While the loss was disappointing, I think this season should be remembered for the record, not for the two losses at the end.

hoyasmeg said...

"The only way to really stop it is a very talented and very disciplined defense, the top of the league types. Too bad the Hawkeyes had one of those."

I don't think even a Georgia fan would say this described the Bulldog defense, but they did a pretty decent job of shutting down GT in the first half and did well enough in the second to hold on for a win.

Jacob said...

No, I wouldn't say Georgia had one of those. I attribute that entirely to the UGA curse that Tech has been under for a very long time.

Also, defenses that get blown up by the pass aren't as likely to get blown up by Tech. Tech almost never passes, so defenses that are better against the run look better while defenses that just look better against the pass look foolish. Look at Miami. Miami couldn't defend a pass to save its life, but they defend the run pretty well and owned Tech.

A pass-happy team like Texas Tech has the opposite problem. Teams that defend the pass really well stomp them into the dirt. Teams that are better against the run just get stomped by that team.

A Free Man said...

Tech's "normally high powered offense" seems to struggle any time they play someone outside the ACC.

Jacob said...

AFM, you'll probably want to modify your statement to "Tech's 'normally high powered offense' seems to struggle any time they play a team with a superior defense and a month to prepare."

They averaged 40.67 points per game against the SEC this year.

But yes, they seem to be unable to find enough tweaks before the bowls to keep a good defensive team from being able to keep the Triple Option in check. Still, if that's the team's only weakness, I'm not going to be calling for any heads.

I would also like to see a better kicker than Blair. He owns Clemson, but that's about it.