Monday, July 13, 2009

ON SPORTS ~ Stuffing the Ballot...

Here in the U.S. we love competitions. We especially love them when they involve underdogs. Maybe that goes back to our country's roots struggling to break free and claim our own spot in the world with little support against an established rival. Yet we are also in love with popularity, fame, fortune, the draw of the bright lights. We like to build up the beautiful people and make them think they are better than everyone else - oh so deserving of our accolades.

So how do you find an underdog to root for when you've filled your competitions with all the popular kids?

Not having been one of the popular kids, I was always a big fan of competitions which rewarded based on merit and hard work. Like the Olympics. Or Jeopardy. But now I am surrounded by subjective contests like American Idol. The judges are looking for the full package. They don't want people with mousy hair or big bellies. They want good looks, thin bodies - AND talent. They have to concede every now and then to the Susan Boyles of the world, by fawning over how extraordinary these people are. Aren't we lucky they gave us a hand picked underdog?

Professional sports are no different. Major League Baseball has it's All-Star extravaganza Tuesday evening. I used to look forward to filling out my ballot at the ball park each year. This was especially exciting when I was too young to cast any other sort of vote. Then, as now, I would ponder my choices, mull it over, look to player stats, and vote for those I felt had the best numbers - which is how their performance is gauged.

Then I realized that nobody seems to give a crap anymore about putting deserving players in there. My brother one year voted for the entire Mets lineup simply because they stunk and he knew that the likelihood of an all-Mets team was as slim as a team filled with the most deserving players.

If you play for a big market team or a winning organization you are going to get the votes. Manny Ramirez, while suspended for violating the performance enhancing drug rules, was legitimately in the running for being voted into this year's All-Star game for a period of time. He didn't make the team because I guess fans do draw the line somewhere - but it was closer than it ever should have been.

It is easier to vote for the people you've always known to be good, rather than looking around to find out who is actually performing well. In fact, this year the Oscars decided to expand the nominees for Best Picture from 5 to 10 slots. Talk about lazy. It's thinning out the waters. Now undeserving films can call themselves Oscar nominees just because the Oscar voters don't want to leave any pretty movies out. It doesn't work in hockey and it won't work with Oscar. Too many options water down the talent pool and make the event all about parity rather than merit.

So I don't care anymore. I decide who my own Oscar winners are and watch those films. I get to buy the albums of any performer I feel should be my Idol. But in order to watch an MLB All-Star game of the players I vote for, I'll have to do it on a video game. Because left to our own devices, it just ends up reminding me of the prom king & queen.


Sandy Nawrot said...

You know, today Cardiogirl was talking about the monologue...this was a great one! Or a great article for an editorial page! I like your thoughts! I agree with the Oscar change. Also, I could have a chance at seeing all the contenders before Oscar night, now there is really no way...its an easy way out!

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about the NFL Pro-Bowl at the end of the season.

~Bry~ said...

I agree! Here is to the underdog! We recently went through this with my son. He should of been picked for all stars! And this is not just his mamma talking. But NOPE, we are new in town. In a small town, USA. Oh well. He is my allstar!

PennyLane said...

ha ha..this is very true. I am guilty of this when it comes to the All Star game.
Jacoby is bad ass..but he's not the best (*wince*).
Now American Idol....I don't even vote but usually I look at talent over all the b.s. others get into :)

The Gal Herself said...

Apparently when other fans vote for the All-Stars, they DO NOT make their selections based on looks. (How else can you explain no Ryan Theriot?) This year's telecast will just be the worse for it. I'm not watching.

The Oscar thing is less concerning to me, as they had 10 nominees in the 1930s and they usually turned out to be deserving (at least in retrospect). Maybe the Academy will surprise you and include smaller, less successful films at the top.