Friday, December 23, 2016

Please, Just One Tie in the New Year

Which do you root for when two of your favorite sports teams collide? I'm going to have that difficult choice on Jan. 2 when the University of Wisconsin Badgers and Western Michigan University Broncos square off on the Cotton Bowl football field.

I started backing the Badgers in 1953 as a student at UW. The main attraction was watching Alan "The Horse" Ameche run over and around opponents. Contributing to my interest in Wisconsin

football, which continues to this day, was the fact that fraternity brother Bob Gingrass led a lot of the blocking that allowed "The Horse" to set rushing records.

Ameche, the first Wisconsin player to be named  an All American, led the team to its first post-season game, a visit to the historic Rose Bowl. In recent years, bowl appearances have become old-hat for the Badgers. This year's contest will be their 15th consecutive bowl game. About half of them have been "major" bowl contests.

Led by a young, enthusiastic coach, Western Michigan has fired up folks where I live by going undefeated. Two of the 13 victories were against Big Ten teams (Illinois and Northwestern) so nobody can claim the Broncos rolled up all the wins against minor opposition. Western has appeared in eight bowls over the years, but this one will be special because the Cotton Bowl is one of the Big Six. No question, it is a "major."

Why am I unsure about which team to cheer for? I've been rooting for both all year. Since moving to southwest Michigan I've become acquainted with many Western grads and several faculty members. It's been fun joining them in pulling for the Broncos. The team's winning streak has had positive effects on the Kalamazoo community, including people who previously had zero interest in football. A page 1 headline in the local newspaper summed it up: "Cotton Bowl Bid Ties City Together."

I've always been amazed that success in sports, especially following years of mediocrity by local teams, actually could inspire a whole city or area. But it can. The city-wide celebrating in Chicago when the Cubs finally won a baseball pennant is a good example. In my youth, when the Braves arrived in Milwaukee to make the city "major league" business pretty much came to a standstill on game days as everybody was at the ballpark or listening to the radio. That happens nowadays in Green Bay when the Packers play at home.

The same kind of pride on display in those cities has been appearing in Kalamazoo of late. Management of a large movie theater announced yesterday that it will provide free seating for those who want to watch a closed circuit broadcast of the Wisconsin-Western game. Other merchants and organizations are sponsoring similar events or other types of recognition of the importance of the game. A Broncos' win in the Cotton Bowl would be a big deal.

The bottom line is I would like both teams to win on Jan. 2. That is impossible, so I would appreciate a tie. That can't happen either. Although tie games were fairly common throughout the first 125 years of American college football, those players, coaches, and fans who found them unsatisfying finally prevailed. In 1995, the rules were changed and ties became impossible. Teams tied at the end of regulation time must continue to play until one becomes a clear winner.

But, please, football gods, won't you allow just one more tie? It would make this Badger-Bronco backer very happy.

11 comments:

Alan G said...

Dick... Given your concern for the outcome of this anticipated contest, you may indeed get your desired 'tie' but I fear that it may have come in the form of a Christmas present received on Christmas Day and not the turf's battle of your dreams...

Dick Klade said...

Alan . . . since I retired that traditional Christmas tie has morphed into a T-shirt. Cheers.

Rummuser said...

This style of foot ball is not played in India. I don't understand the game, and particularly why it is called foot ball when the ball never touches the foot! We have what you call Soccer and I also follow the European soccer tournaments. I back Manchester United as I once saw a match between them and Manchester city and took a shine for them.

PiedType said...

That's a tough call. You can at least root for a close, good game with both teams doing well. But in the end I think I'd have to "dance with the guy who brung me" and cheer for my old alma mater.

P.S. at least half the country was cheering for the cubs, me among them.

Dick Klade said...

Rummuser. . . When I was a teenager, soccer was almost unheard of in the U.S. Now it is very popular, with youngsters of all ages participating and fairly big audiences for league matches. American football many years ago depended much more on kicks--field goals and punts to set the other team back--than it does today. Still, many games are decided by field goals when a kicker must get the ball between uprights. We now get European soccer matches on television and I enjoy watching occasionally.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Ill pray for you.

Jhawk23 said...

In a way, it's a nice situation to be in, having two of "your" teams wind up the season good enough to get to a major Bowl. Many might wait years for that outcome but never see it. Enjoy the moment!

joared said...

This comes under the category of unacceptable game outcomes whatever happens -- one of life's dilemmas -- or....you could look at it as you can't lose -- you'll have a winner whichever way the game goes.

Dick Klade said...

Good thoughts, Joared. I'll go for starting 2017 on a positive note. Whatever happens, I'll be backing the winner.

Joared said...

Have any thoughts about the NFL -- San Diego Chargers moving to L.A. when St. Louis Rams just got here not long ago? And what about the Rams new young coach. Perhaps you're focused more on Midwest teams if you follow the pro teams.

Dick Klade said...

No problem with appointing a young head coach, although I don't think it is a very savvy move to do so. The Chargers move (and perhaps Raiders soon) is deplorable. I think greedy owners are on the road to destroying pro football. And greedy administrators are following the same path with college ball. Take the money and run may work for corporate leaders, but it is fatal in sports. A dedicated fan base is essential to long-term success and abandoning thousands of fans who have been loyal for decades is not the way to go. Sooner or later, the whole empire will crumble.