Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The BCS Dumb Ox Trophy

The BCS Dumb Ox Trophy

 After its victory last night, Alabama is now ranked number one in football. It is also number one among the fifty states in one other category: alphabetically. It always comes first there. Those are about the only things in which the state is number one. In almost every other respect it ranks low to bottom. On a scale from 1 to 50, with 1 being the highest (good) and 50 the lowest (bad), Alabama ranks as follows:

·         Homelessness                         50th
·         Strokes                                   50th
·         Economic Opportunity             47th
·         Obesity                                   46th
·         Diabetes                                  46th
·         Education                                45th
·         Smoking                                  45th
·         Health Care                              45th
·         Taxes on cigarettes                  42nd
·         Personal income                      40th
·         Crime                                     39th
·         Teen pregnancy                       39th
·         Violent crimes                         23rd

     Is it just coincidental that Alabama is ranked so high in football and so low in these other categories? I don’t think so. In what I will call the Dumb Ox Law, a state is ranked in the other categories in inverse ratio to its ranking—or at least the ranking of its state university—in football. But the Dumb Ox Law is not infallible. Guess which state is ranked lower than Alabama in categories related to health, education, etc? You’re right if you guessed the neighboring state of Louisiana. If the Dumb Ox Law was infallible, Louisiana State University should have defeated Alabama last night in New Orleans, especially since it also had the home field advantage. I could speculate on why LSU lost the game last night—because I have a theory—but the game was boring enough without my making this analysis more complicated and as boring as the battle of college football titans was. Just let me say this. It is the most economically and culturally disadvantaged states that try hardest through football to compensate for their disadvantages, states that will go to extraordinary, even unethical and criminal lengths to achieve number one status.

     Ohio State and Penn State are reminders that it is not just in the historically disadvantaged southern states that football is almost a religious (or at least a bread and circus) diversion from the unpleasant facts and harsh realities of life. The pieties, the religiosity, that both Ohio State and Penn State used to cover up their immorality and criminality have now been exposed for the hypocrisies that they were, though it probably won’t be long before the worshippers, the fans, are once more as fanatical about their teams as they were in the past. That will happen once the ghosts of the once holy Tressel and Parterno are exorcised. Two-time Heisman winner Tim Tebow, who is still playing and praying like a college quarterback at the professional level, may be the avatar of the religious revival underway in football.
     Ohio is not just a northern state, it is also a border state, sharing important characteristics with  the South.  The Midwest, just like the South, is out to prove something to the Northeast, the home  of the pointy headed Ivy League “elites.” Call it the F. Scott Fitzgerald or Great Gatsby Complex. Among the hundred-and-thirty-pound Fitzgerald’s fantasies were being a war hero or a football star. That may be one reason he was such a poor student. It surprised me when I learned how low Ohio is ranked educationally. But I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering how insanely determined Ohio State is to be number one in football. The Dumb Ox Law may not be fool proof, but it proves there are still a lot of fools when it comes to college football.

     Let me close with a question. What do you make of the fact that Mike Mearan is one of the most die-hard Buckeye fans in the state?