Monday, November 7, 2011

The Annual Game of the Century

The term "Game of the Century" conjures up strong images, doesn't it? Grandeur, splendor, and excitement all come with the name. But, it seems that the so called "Game of the Century" doesn't really take on that meaning anymore, especially with college football, where the term caught fire. Even though #1 vs. #2 happens rarely during the regular season, that term doesn't really capture the meaning of what it's supposed to anymore. I know that the term is pretty much a farce now amongst fans and sportswriters, but if that's the case, then why do we still use it?

A simple trip to Wikipedia shows that when "Game of the Century" is typed in for college football, 12 games come up. 12! Compare this to college basketball, and you only get one option. Of course, that one is pretty famous on its own, but that's not for this discussion. 12 separate "Games of the Century", and since some of them happen in the same decade, you can't really call it a "Game of the Decade", or maybe even a game of the year. Some of the games live up to the hype, like the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, or the 1991 installment of Florida State vs. Miami, but the novelty of the term has worn thin by now. So, when the "Game of the Century" was being played on November 4, many joked about about it being a crappy game. If you truly wanted a "Game of the Century" connotation, you could look to the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game earlier this year. You never know about a game before it's played, as that is one of the novelties of sports. But, it still doesn't excuse the banal term.

The real test of the term is this: How many of you will remember this LSU vs. Alabama game 10 years from now? I'd guess not many. Most fans choose to remember the high moments, and forget the bad ones (tell that one to Florida State fans), so the "Game of the Century" term doesn't really qualify if it doesn't stick in your mind for a long time. I know the regular season is very different from the playoffs, and especially with the regular season in college football holding so much grout, I can understand the importance of games like these. But, there are simply more memorable games from a season to throw a term at than a simple #1 vs. #2, which could be a blowout.

If you could pick one game from any sport that defined the sport permanently, what would you pick? There are plenty of options, but for college football, would you pick LSU vs. Alabama? Probably not. Would you pick one of the "Games of the Century" as you choice? Some would, some wouldn't. It's all subjective, and especially to the losers in these games, it's surely not a "Game of the Century". So, why is it still used? The media hype machine, and whatever will drive up ratings. Oversimplification, probably. But it's one explanation.

As a media term, "Game of the Century" is about as fresh and new as the social media craze. But as a sports term, "Game of the Century" has lost all its luster, and therefore, should not be used, until a real "Game of the Century" comes along, and you never know when that will.

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