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College football's exciting conclusion isn't

The season used to end on Jan. 1, logically, ideally, with much fanfare. Now it ends on a busy weeknight. He blames the networks.

January 08, 2009|CHRIS ERSKINE

Feet, don't fail me now. I have to run a bootleg to the big chair in the den for yet another college football game. My 30th in several weeks.

But I am moving slowly these days. Never thought I'd say it -- me, who cries Gatorade tears, whose skin is pebbled like pigskin. But I think I have football fatigue, a queasy, flu-like condition caused by way too many bowl games.

Too much college football? No such thing, you say. The college game is our national blast-time. We love it like Dr. Seuss loved funny downspouts or starving starlets love weak-willed tycoons.

Let me just say this: You know your season lasts too long when Al Franken's election result comes in before the Florida-Oklahoma score.

College football has always been the one sport where the season was the ideal length. It didn't linger on way too long, like the NBA, or that nerdy and insufferable "Lost."

No, the college football season ended just right, on Jan. 1, in a glorious love buzz of hangovers, salsa, salty snacks, sardines, intestinal gas, overtime shootouts and, finally, peace. It ended when there were still pine boughs on the mantel and the smell of Santa's cologne in the hallway. Not so long ago, college football ended magnificently, like "Casablanca" or "Rocky."

Now it ends like an episode of "Joanie Loves Chachi." College football, you've jumped the shark.

Me, I blame the networks. Of course, I blame the networks for just about everything these days -- global warming, soggy nachos, tepid martinis. So why not blame them for this fiasco, trying to squeeze every last ounce of confetti out of the season.

Not so long ago, these games were played when the nation had the week off and nothing to do but clean the closet. Now, they're played on a working Thursday, kids juggling homework, Mom rushing dinner.

Tonight, for example, I will race out of the office -- well, I always do that. But tonight is special, the national championship. So I will sissy-sprint to the parking garage, over-grip the wheel while waiting-waiting-waiting for that stoplight on Broadway to change, curse perfectly good people on Hill Street for not getting off the bus faster. Is this any way to run a nation?

Coach Obama, we turn our lonely eyes to you.

And while we're in a political mood, how about a little help for the average fan? The players have unions and agents to represent them. They have shoe companies and marketing firms and mean little men in hard shiny shoes.

What do the fans have? Zippo. Zilch. Zbikowski.

Sports fans need their own Bill of Rights, and they need it right now. We should staple it on Staples Center, like Martin Luther, or directly on some billionaire's forehead. It should be short and to the point, this Bill of Rights. Like me, it should use simple words that even babies know.

In fact, let me throw out the first pitch:

First Amendment: Freedom to park. I don't want to pay 20 bucks for a spot in the cruddy part of town. Sports stadiums should be like Vegas, where parking is free and cocktails are often complimentary. So throw us a bone: free parking. Need the revenue? Stick it to your regional cable network.

Second Amendment: No game lasts more than 2 hours and 30 minutes. Look, I'm no P.T. Barnum, but there is no form of entertainment that should last much more than two hours -- not movies, stage plays, bachelor parties or rodeos. The human attention span is set for two hours. The bladder was built for two hours. After two hours, circulation to our fannies starts to ebb and our backsides begin to die.

Third Amendment: Every day should be "Fan Appreciation Day." Quit treating us like you're doing us all a favor. Dive into the stands after every touchdown. Add 10 minutes to your pregame routine for autographs. Just because that 8-year-old in the second row thinks you're a god doesn't mean you should act like one.

Fourth Amendment: No more computers. I don't care what you do with them. Sell them to NASA. Set them on the curb and smash them with cinder blocks. If BCS computers ran beauty pageants, Rosie O'Donnell would be Miss California.

Fifth Amendment: Let the fans vote off the announcers. That would mean guys like Tony Kornheiser would be thrown out immediately. Swell guy I'm sure, but Korny appears to have learned English from old Buddy Hackett comedy albums.

Oh, what to make of the venerable and once-beloved "Monday Night Football." Here's a half-thought (my specialty): Move it back to a broadcast network. Then team up the dream team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and a third, rotating guest announcer. One week it could be Mike Ditka, the next, Bill Murray ("That's a sack, Jack!").

Other potential guest hosts: David Letterman, Bart Simpson, Tina Fey, Bill Cosby, Charles Barkley ("Mr. Barkley, don't go near that rental. We'll just send over a town car").

What, Bart Simpson isn't real? Well, increasingly, neither are the fans. We don't ask for much. Just a few inalienable rights.

Hey, a boy can dream.


Erskine's Fan of the House column will appear Thursdays in Sports. His Man of the House column appears Saturdays in the Home section.

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