From the Stands

Playoff mumblings

Choosing from among non-choices

The college football playoff teams have been chosen, and the selection committee made the choice of whom to root for easy.

Oregon.

The other three—Ohio State, Florida State and Alabama—are long-time members of my short list of teams I love to root against. Three of my favorite teams each football Saturday are the teams playing Alabama, Ohio State and FSU. A fourth, though irrelevant to the playoff, is whoever is playing Notre Dame.

Please understand that I am not an Oregon Ducks fan; it’s just that they are the only team I can root for among the choices I have.

Perhaps a brief explanation is in order. I am a sports fan, and college football is my favorite spectator sport. Except for Oklahoma State in football and the St. Louis Cardinals in major league baseball, I am not a strong fan of any particular team. I just enjoy a good game, and basically I derive more pleasure from rooting for underdogs than I do from expending passion on following a particular team.

So, in this first year of the new playoff system, my cheering interest gravitated to Oregon, a relative newcomer to the favorite’s roll long enjoyed by the powerhouses OSU, FSU and Bama. Or, stated more bluntly, the Ducks are the only one I can possibly root for.

Since they are playing FSU in one game, my choice is clear there. In the OSU vs. Alabama game, the outcome I would like most—both of them lose—is not possible. Thus, I am stuck hoping that the winner will be the loser to Oregon in the title game.

What if Oregon is not in the title game? I’ll still watch it, but will settle for rooting for an exciting game with only an interest in the quality of the competition, not in who wins or loses. Believe it not, I can enjoy, and have enjoyed, games in which I have no particular rooting interest.

Though I’ll root for Oregon, my real rooting interest going into the playoff was TCU or Baylor. I was hoping one of them would be selected and give the Big 12 Conference a representative and someone I could cheer for. However, neither was selected, though I think either one was more worthy than Ohio State; but that is a topic not to be addressed at this time.

The only decision

The judge ruled this week, and Douglass High School was denied injunctive relief based on its protest of the recent loss to Locust Grove in the Class 3A state playoffs. As you will recall, officials in the game misapplied a rule and disallowed a touchdown by Douglass that gave it a lead in the game and a likely victory since just over a minute was all the time left in the game.

Although neither fairness nor justice was served, the judge made the only decision he could under the circumstances. It was not fair that Douglass lost because of a mistake by the officials. However, it would not have been fair either to have replayed all or a portion of the game because the circumstances would have been altered. Nor does it seem right that Locust Grove moves on in the playoffs tainted by the knowledge that the victory was not a clear-cut one.

It was a situation in which there was no fair, just, or truly satisfactory way to handle the situation once it had occurred. Though not a totally satisfactory solution, the most workable one seemed to be to just move ahead. It’s no consolation, but life is not always fair, and this is clear example of that.

A similar situation happened in Kentucky, and the solution there was not to allow a protest and, instead, continue the playoffs. The governing body there has a policy, which it enforces, that no protest can be filed once a game is over. Georgia does the same.

Obviously, Oklahoma needs to get its act together. Protests over the outcome of sports events should not be settled in the courts.

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