Thursday, June 4, 2009

Where Sports Conspiracies Grow

Every now and then, people ask me: "Do you really believe in sports conspiracies, Czabe?"

Yes. And no. But mostly, "sort of."

How's that for clear?

I believe in "conspiracies" if you will, if only because I see how some leagues go out of their way to "manipulate" their games in the name of marketing or TV ratings.

The NBA is the biggest violator.

Now the NHL seems to be following suit.

Do I think that the NHL instructed the officials in Game 3 to completely IGNORE a 6 on 5 illegal "power play" by the Penquins in order to help extend the series beyond what was looking like a sweep?

No. That would be ridiculous.

But other fans, are not so sure. They blogosphere and talk radio was full of hard core hockey fans that simply couldn't believe that a gaffe of such huge proportions (21 full seconds!) could happen with the so-called "best" referees on the playoff ice.

It's true. How did that happen? In the NFL, the percentage of times a team has 12 men on the field for a single play, results in about a 90% rate of getting caught. And that's with 11 men per side! I don't want to say what happened was "un-precedented" but it was certainly "fan-man rare" for a Cup Finals game.

But why would people believe some "manipulation" was being employed?

Simple. The leagues are sowing these seeds of doubt themselves.

When the NHL so quickly rescinded the automatic instigator suspension for a star player like Malkin, it left itself wide open to the charge that just letting a series play out is not enough.

The rule on the Malkin fight was simple. It reads.. "Any player who gets an instigator major in the final 5 minutes..... "

Shall I repeat: "ANY player...."

Not "Any NON-star player we think would affect the outcome of a game..."

It's the same thing with the NBA removing one of Dwight Howard's technicals so that he doesn't get sat down for a game with his next outburst. Why even have a "rule" that says 7 tech's in the playoffs equals a 1 game suspension?

It's clearly, NOT a "rule." It's like what Jack Sparrow said about the pirate concept of "parlay."

"'Tis more of a guideline, really..."

Both the NBA and NHL have directly intervened and subverted their own "rules" this post season, and both times in a direction that favors star players, and seems to cater to television and marketing concerns.

So... duh. People are going to start smelling a rat.

Like when Seinfeld said: "Anybody can make a reservation. It's the HOLDING of that reservation that's the key part..."

Anybody can MAKE a rule. It's actually FOLLOWING the rules, that means something.

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