Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Mud Bowl

In about half an hour from the time I start this post, Oregon State and University of Oregon will kick off their annual football faceoff. Those of us who regard this as a waste of our time and an unnecessary aggravation (puke, broken glass, and noise) refer to this annual tradition as either the mud bowl or the toilet bowl. This is often the most anticipated game of the year in Oregon, and is traditionally held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year they're holding it on the Thursday after Thanksgiving.

Why? Because ESPN paid them off.

See, whoever wins this year's game goes to the Rosebowl... and I guess that's a big deal.

So people will take off work early (or call in sick), and drive from all over the state to attend a three-hour game that starts at six (sunset was at 4:33), and probably won't end until after nine, then drive home. 'Cause tomorrow's also a work day, don'cha know. Or a school day, if you're an OSU student. Now that may sound fairly innocuous, but this is one of the busiest events of the year for Oregon's highways. OregonLive had a piece yesterday, "Before Thursday's big game, expect a Civil War in traffic." The traffic jams associated with Oregon College football, especially the Civil War game, are legendary.

Oh, yeah... then there's the tailgating. Add in the weather that's typical at this time of year- drizzly rain and fog- and you have a recipe for disaster. The majority of the attendees do not have the option of spending the night; they need to be back home tomorrow morning.

Now the positive news is that the last couple of days have been chilly, but mostly clear, so the pavement is dry. NOAA is not predicting rain until late Sunday. So precipitation will not be an issue... but we've had a lot of fog this week, and the I-5 corridor is fog alley.

In short, my opinion is that underfunded Oregon Universities have been pushed by economic starvation into accepting bribes from a sports network to change a scheduled event. And that change is likely, to an utterly unacceptable degree, to put the lives of their alumni and current students at risk.

I hope I can't say "I told you so" tomorrow. I honestly do. Football is obnoxious and stupid from my perspective, but that is what it is: my perspective and my opinion. It's worth exactly what you paid for it. Other people have the right to choose whatever entertainment they want to engage in. It just pisses me off that lives are being put in jeopardy for a goddamn cable company's corporate bottom line.

Followup, Fri. December 4: Yay! I can't say "I told you so."
OSP said there were no major traffic incidents besides a rear-end, non-injury crash on I-5 south of Salem at 3:25 p.m. and the one-car accident on I-5 north after the game.
There were, however, 14 DUI's; 12 of these are implied to be related to the game.

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