Too Close To Call
by Josh Spence

I spent Sunday morning trying to help a friend of mine place some friendly (legal) wagers on the slate of NFL games that day.  What I quickly realized is that this is really hard!  Parity in football and especially the NFL has reached the point where just about any team can win just about any game.  Who would have thought the Patriots would beat the Bengals 38-13?  Or that Chicago would manhandle the defending NFC champion Seahawks 37-6?  Sure there are upsets every year, but the level of parity in football today makes these games harder to predict than ever. 

In fact I would even go as far as saying that the game of football we see today is better than it has ever been before.  From college to pro, or any level, today’s players and coaches are more in tune physically and mentally than the ones before them.  This is no discredit to past players.  It is more a further evolution of the sport.  With the increase in importance of strength and endurance, we have seen athletes take off season work outs to a whole different level.  Sometimes I wonder if the term off-season is even appropriate anymore.  Even coaches have stepped it up.  These days to be a full time coach, even at the high school level, it means sacrificing your personal life for the good of the team.  Those not willing to spend the time are often left in the dust. 

To us it’s a game, to the players and coaches, managers, and owners, it’s a business and a lifestyle.  Football like all sports is driven by money.  It would be nice to think that these guys just enjoy beating each others faces in for our shear viewing pleasure, but without the mighty dollar, football would have never become the game it is today. 

The NFL is the best example as far as parity but the same is true to some extent in college football.   More and more teams are consistently competing at the highest level.  Unfortunately college football is hampered by the BCS system which limits the access to big games for smaller schools like East Carolina.  If the NCAA would go to a playoff system I guarantee you would see the playing field leveled bringing further parity nationwide.   My guess is that it would take less than five years of a playoff system before you would see a team currently in a non-BCS league win the national title. 

The football business is booming stronger than ever, and why not?  It’s the most entertaining of the spectator sports and right now it’s better than ever.  Close games, upsets, underdogs, in today’s football world it’s too close to call. 

Josh Spence