I don’t like having to claim I know more about sports than people think I do, but I do. Sorry.
I know I look like a nerd or a hippie or a long-haired slacker — someone who wouldn’t know the first thing about football blocking schemes or power-play strategies in hockey. But, in reality, I do.
For instance, you could name any Major League Baseball team, and I could name at least five pitchers who have started a game for them this season. Give it a whirl, if you want, but don’t be surprised if I erroneously name drop relief pitcher Arquimedes Caminero, just to see if you’re paying attention. (Best name in sports, perhaps.)
My point? It’s that I like sports to be discussed in an intelligent and informed manner, which is why I became motivated to write this piece when I read former colleague (and generally good guy) Jason Kersey’s NewsOK.com piece about the OU football team’s “Air Raid” offense:
Part of what makes the Air Raid unique is the way it is practiced — at blazing speed to rack up as many repetitions as possible. That forces the quarterbacks to get used to making decisions on the fly, with little time to scope out the defense’s look.
“They rep it so much that they’re able to get instinctive about it,” said Chris Brown, who runs SmartFootball.com, a website devoted to dissecting and studying football strategy.
Ah yes, a great site I had sort of forgotten: SmartFootball.com. It’s a blog — despite NewsOK’s baffling inability to hyperlink to it online — for people who want to read and watch breakdowns of actual American football strategy.
I love smart football, and I was thrilled when the National Football League began offering (for a price) their “All-22” game footage in 2012. Previously, the camera angles showing every player on the field had been embargoed from the public. For years, football fans watching on TV were intentionally prevented from seeing defensive coverages or receiver routes beyond about 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Still, television viewers of live games today are only able to see the All-22 footage in rare replay situations. This applies to both collegiate and professional broadcasts.
Frankly, I think many football fans could benefit from it, and if you think an inordinate number of football linebackers are named Mike, Sam and Will, you probably could too.
The last sanctioned game of football I attended was OU v. Texas Tech in 2011. My oldest childhood friend and I will never — NEVER — forget the cheers to which we were subjected by our fellow Sooner fans.
All. Game. Long.
“Pick out a number and hit somebody!” a skinny man bellowed repeatedly.
“Talk to each other!” a slightly larger fellow implored. Over and over. And over.
Too many times, this is what being a sports fan becomes: screaming fanatical catchphrases at on-field athletes who can’t hear a word of what you’re saying and who wouldn’t want to if they could. Believe me, I’ve done my fair share.
“Play together! Play as a team! Talk to each other!”
So if you check out the aforementioned “smart football” blog, I guarantee you’ll have something more intelligent to “talk to each other” about the next time you watch football.
If nothing else, maybe you can learn to pick out the Mike linebacker before the ball is snapped.
If you can, this hippie thinks it will lend credibility the next time you demand a quarterback change.