When you’re desperate to produce an article right before your deadline, it’s a good idea to reach into the fan mail you have received and answer fan questions from your fans.
When you have no fans of your column, it’s best to make up fan mail and answer your imaginary fans’ questions. (Then it’s usually best to assume the fetal position, have a good cry and take seven melatonin pills to help you sleep it off). Regardless, below are a few questions I have totally made up from totally made up people…
1. Dear Luke, is poker really a sport?
—Ceasar Rack, Pelham
To quote Reverend Lovejoy of “The Simpsons” fame, “Long answer yes with an if; short answer no with a but….” See, Webster’s defines the word “sport” as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Poker definitely covers the “skill” criterion, but the “physical exertion” portion seems sketchy at best. Having played a good bit of poker myself, I can confidently say it’s less suitable for “athletes” than “sit-on-you-ass-letes.” However, if you are a really good player (and I am not…according to my ATM receipts), you definitely need stamina, as it takes beaucoup patience and instinct to know how to read opponents and when to react with the right push of the chips. So, to answer your question, I will say poker is a sport, but just barely.
2. Dear Luke, what is your least favorite sports cliché? —Peter Fitzer, Sipsey
Good Lord, there are soooo many I hate, beginning with “They have to pound it on the ground” (where the hell else would they pound it???) and ending with “They can’t cough up the ball here” (because coughing it up somewhere else is much better…). However, my least favorite cliché is when announcers say, “(Team X) didn’t lose; they just ran out of time.”
If this made any sense, failing students everywhere could tell their disappointed parents, “Hey guys, I didn’t flunk algebra. I just ran out of questions I knew the answer to.”
3. Dear Luke, why don’t you like the idea of expanding the College Football Playoff past
four teams? —Jack Mehoff, West Sipsey
This answer is simple: Any playoff beyond four teams ruins college football. Our beloved sport has flaws. There are scheduling and conference disparities throughout the country. However, college football undeniably has the best regular season in all of sports. It’s what makes every fall Saturday unique. If college football tried mimicking the NFL or (God forbid) the bloated NCAA basketball tournament, it would cheapen the essence of the sport. Not all competitions have to determine champions the exact same way to be valid. Basketball is a tournament sport. The NFL is pay-for-play. Meanwhile, college football is built on tradition and pageantry. It’s why I still like having post-season bowls; not all teams deserve a shot at a national title, but many teams deserve some type of reward for a good (or even mediocre) season. Four teams is perfect. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You dig?
4. Dear Luke, is it ever OK to leave your team’s game as a fan if they are losing badly, or should you feel obligated to stay and suffer with them?
——Sharon D. Eases
In the end, sporting events are entertainment, right? I have no issue leaving a movie if it is extraordinarily bad (see: Bridget Jones’ Baby), and I have no issue beating traffic if my squad failed to show up. Case in point, the Iron Bowl in 2005 (which is also known as the “Honk if You Sacked Brodie” game). When Kenny Irons scored Auburn’s second touchdown fewer than eight minutes into the first quarter, my brother and I bolted immediately. We drove all the way back to Alex City, stopped for lunch, and watched the rest of the game from my Lake Martin cabin. We were 200 percent positive there was a 0 percent chance a Mike Shula-led team would come back from a 14-point deficit. Soooooo… Why suffer through that in person with $5 Cokes when there was free beer in my fridge?
Thank you all for writing in to me.… It means so much to me and my multiple personalities that you care!•