NFL labor dispute

One effect of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s successful effort to limit collective bargaining by the state employee’s union is that labor unions are once again in the national spotlight.  Unions consider this to be a good thing, after years of neglect, since much of the public seems to be taking their side.  And now a labor issue of even greater concern to the general public has emerged:  The National Football League is headed for a work stoppage.  After negotiations over a new contract fell apart, the players decertified their union, a tactic that allowed for court action, and the players essentially locked out the players.  Next year’s season is in jeopardy.  See  NFL talks collapse, shutdown of pro football expected – The Washington Post.

Unions for sweatshops, casualties of the industrial revolution paid subsistence wages, and other cases of the exploited proletariat are one thing.  It’s harder to be sympathetic to white collar unions and–what do we call them?–spandex collar unions, especially professional sports laborers who make untold millions and are in a dispute about how to share in additional billions.

Still, some may argue that the principles are the same?  Going from a 16-game season to an 18-game season would surely mean a greater chance for career-ending injuries.  Can’t millionaire athletes be exploited too?  Or is there a difference of kind as well as magnitude here?

And what would be the real effects of a work stoppage?  When the garbage collectors’ union goes on strike, the trash does not get picked up.  But who is hurt if professional athletes don’t go to work, other than themselves and the owners?  I have heard it said that “this only hurts the fans,” but I would contend that fans are not hurt at all, not really.  Missing a few hours of entertainment on Sunday afternoon will not hurt anyone.  Fans can always read a book, play video games, spend time with the family, or take a nap.

What do you think about all of this?

SuperBowl had most TV viewers in history

There was a time when there were only four networks and the whole country came together to watch programs, like the last episode of MASH, in a vast communal experience.  Now with cable, satellite, and scores of narrowcasting networks, that time is over.  Except that the nation DID come together to watch the Super Bowl.  These two small market teams attracted the most viewers ever to a TV show:

History was made last night on FOX when Super Bowl XLV became the most-watched U.S. television program ever, and FOX became the first network ever to exceed 100 million viewers (100.9 million) for a night in prime time, according to fast-national ratings released today by Nielsen Media Research. The game, the outcome of which was in doubt until the final seconds, saw the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to capture the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl Championship.

FOX Sports’ broadcast of Super Bowl XLV averaged 111 million viewers and is the most-watched television program in U.S. history, obliterating the prior record of 106.5 set last year during Super Bowl XLIV by 4.5 million viewers and the 106.0 million for the series finale of M*A*S*H, which held the viewership record from 1983 to 2010.

via Super Bowl XLV Breaks Viewing Record, Averages 111 Million Viewers.

Why do you think the game scored such huge numbers?

Green Bay’s strange way of celebrating

By all accounts, the citizens of Green Bay, Wisconsin, celebrated the Packers’ Super Bowl victory by flooding out of their houses to embrace each other in jubilation.  Also by honking their horns.  And by flocking to Lambeau Field with snow shovels to dig out the stadium in preparation for a big welcome home to the team.

But the fans didn’t overturn cars, set fires, fight each other, or smash store windows.  What’s with that?  Don’t they know how cities are supposed to celebrate?

Packers rule!

It wasn’t pretty, but it sure was exciting.  The Packers won the Super Bowl, beating the Steelrs 31-25.

That means Rich Shipe won our contest with an amazing prediction of 31-24.  (Who could have guessed that the Steelers would go for two?)  He has a great future in Vegas, if the church he is pastoring will give him a leave of absence.  (Rich, how did you get so close?  What was your reasoning?)

So Rich wins 15 minutes of fame.  Think about him today for 15 minutes.  No more than that!

Dennis Peskey was close too, 38-24, but I think Cindy R. would come in second with her guess of 27-24.  (Cindy Ramos is always winning or coming close in my prediction contests!  She’s a former student, so I must have taught her well.  You other former students must not have paid attention.)

Use this space for post-game analysis, commercial critiques, and half-time show complaints.

Your forum for the Super Bowl

This is the place for Super Bowl predictions, analysis, and trash talk between Packer and Steeler fans.

I’ll start: We’ve got two storied teams from blue-collar towns that are actually very much alike, especially when it comes to their awesome defenses. Therefore the Packers will smelt the Steelers! 17-14.

Anyone who predicts the correct score will win 15 minutes of fame on this blog.

Zone Blitz

The two coaches who together developed the zone blitz will coach against each other in the Super Bowl:

It has been nearly 20 years since Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau worked together on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but their collaborative efforts so dramatically influenced the way the sport is played that the results will remain on vivid display during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

LeBeau and Capers teamed up to bring the zone blitz to the NFL, designing a tactic that the Steelers could use to confuse opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen by keeping them guessing about which defenders would be rushing the passer and which would be dropping into pass coverage on any given play.

The two men will be on opposite sides Sunday, LeBeau as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator, Capers in the same role for the Green Bay Packers. Coming up with ever-more-creative variations of the zone blitz remains a key element in each coach’s successful defensive formula. . . .

The zone blitz is associated with a 3-4 defensive alignment – three linemen and four linebackers. A non-lineman – either a linebacker or a defensive back – rushes the quarterback, while a lineman drops into pass coverage.

“It used to be that you either got one or the other: You used to face either a zone coverage in the secondary or a blitz,” former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann said. “So you set up your pass routes accordingly.”. . .

“You don’t just see defensive ends dropping into coverage and outside linebackers blitzing,” Theismann said. “You see nose tackles dropping into coverage. You see safeties blitzing. To me, the area where football has undergone the most change is the complexity with which defensive coordinators bring pressure.”. . .

The Steelers and Packers surrendered the fewest points in the league this season, making a case for the continued importance of defense even in the highest-scoring NFL season in 45 years. The Steelers led the league in sacks, while the Packers were tied for second.

via Super Bowl: Packers’ Dom Capers, Steelers’ Dick LeBeau pioneered the zone blitz while on same Pittsburgh staff.