South By Southwest: That’s Why They Play the Games

It was a long night at Rupp arena for Tennessee last month, filled with the boorish behavior of an increasingly frustrated crowd of Wildcat fans. But, perhaps a humbling experience is what some title-contenders need to regain focused and get a hard-knuckle grip on reality. A big road game is intimidating in a sport where home field advantage is as influential as it is in NCAA basketball. In light of the spanking of Georgia that followed in Knoxville, I think Tennessee learned a good lesson in one of college basketball’s toughest arenas; despite what the pundits say, you still have to actually play the game.

Perhaps Rudy Giuliani should have received some advice that echoed that message. Giuliani, once an American hero who cleaned up the nation’s greatest city and led the nation through the aftermath of 9/11, has become a laughingstock. His legacy is likely to be one that involves the use of pejoratives rather than laudatory praise. He took his frontrunner status with him to Florida and decided not to play early, now his career as a public servant is over.

Though skipping pre-season games, training camps, and golf tournaments works for the likes of Michael Strahan, Plaxico Burress and Tiger Woods, it is not a suggested winning strategy for the majority of people in any realm of competition.

Of course, when you play you should at least attempt to do so with some dignity. Obama and Clinton took the gloves in the final three-way bout for the Democrats, and they took some heat until coming out and playing nice in the first one-on-one debate Jan. 31. But, they played hard and well and now they are where we all expected them to be.

On the other hand, the Republicans are beginning to mirror the collage of temporary No. 1 ranked college football teams this past season. It is as if every week we have a new champion of the Republican Party. Do you remember that Huckabee guy? What about Fred Thompson . . . “Law and Order” will be able to count him in the future.

And now there’s this new No. 1, John McCain. I see him and I think about Boston College that one week. The problem is there is no LSU or USC laying around the Republican field that we all know would kick the crap out of this supposed numero uno.

The Republicans seem to have run dry, whereas the Democrats have fought it out and whittled down the race to their best available people. The Republican’s starters have simply left the game due to a series of incredibly bad decisions. Giuliani and Thompson represent a classic case of “think long, think wrong.”

Now we are down the stretch, and Tuesday could bring anything out of a discombobulated Republican organization. Conversely, and surprisingly, the Democrats have galvanized and have two very good candidates to pick from. I expect that by the time you read this they will still be talking about the shocking results of Super Tuesday.

But what many Americans might consider to be a more important event took place two days earlier?the Super Bowl. This game delivered, the Patriots have played the games, as have the Giants, and as fans we got what we deserved; a game between the two best teams.

Thank God for the NFL, it delivers the truth. In the NFL, you play for it every single week and the result is an excellent product. College Basketball is much the same in that everything is earned on the court. And that is how it should be in life; you should have to play to win. And the electorate has enforced this rule as of late.


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