Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Arbiter of Rivalries

From a Friday World Wide Lemur chat...

Mike (Indianapolis)

Is Green Bay and Chicago really a huge rivalry as everyone is making it out to be? The last time they played each other in the playoffs was in the 1940s. Aren't they really just bitter divisional rivals in a crappy division.

Bill Simmons (12:58 PM)

Glad someone brought this up. I feel like I'm in the top 1% of diehard football fans and can't remember a single meaningful Bears-Packers game. I'm sure there have been a couple, I just can't remember any. Am I wrong on this?

* * * * *

Oh, dear God in heaven. Where to start?

1) So nice that Little Prince Billy is now the arbiter of what is a rivalry, and what isn't. And here I thought that two teams that were less than 100 miles away from each other, that have played each other since the dawn of pro football time, with a won-loss record that's damn near close to even, and a team that defines itself with its new coach hire as to success coming from beating the other... well, that's not a rivalry, because Billy doesn't remember any of their games.

2) Is there an online test so that I can determine where I am in the percentage of diehard football fans? It's something like the Purity Test, only with an all-powerful myopia around your own laundry, with a rooting interest that closely relates to years when that team is good. Oh, and if I make enough money to gamble on lots of games, that gets me higher in the rankings too, right? We just need some ground rules here.

3) The NFC North is a crappy division. Really? Let's see... they had two teams play for the right to go to the Super Bowl this year. Last year, they sent two teams to the playoffs, with the division champion being a play or two away from going. Their games feature two out of four outdoor stadiums, with four franchises that routinely sell out games, most of the time, regardless of weather. But it's crappy, you see, because the teams tend to alternate times of ascendance.

Look, I get that your team's rivalries matter more to you. Eagles-Cowboys isn't the Cowboys' biggest game of the year; that's the Redskins for them. But if you were to tell me that the Eagles could only win two games next year, there's no doubt in my mind which I'd choose.

This does not mean, however, that someone else's rivalry isn't valid. And to offer that opinion is, at best, mean-spirited, and at worst, breathtakingly ignorant. You'd think that the World Wide Lemur could do better, wouldn't you?

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