You know that kid on your T-ball team. The one who couldn’t throw. The one who never made a catch. The one who repeatedly ran to third base instead of first each and every time he managed to softly hit the ball, causing it to tumble off its perch and roll a few inches away from home plate like it was a timid grade schooler boarding the bus for the first time. The one that took a green magic marker to his arm and began coloring his skin, only to get up to his elbow, all because he wanted to be the Incredible Hulk. Yeah, that kid.
And didn’t it really tick you off at the end of the season when he received a trophy solely because he couldn’t throw a ball, never made a catch, ran to third instead of first, and thought he was the Incredible Hulk? And to make matters worse, his two-foot-tall trophy was bigger than the half-footer you received for being the team MVP.
The 2010 Clemson football team is that kid — that is if the 6-6 Tigers receive and then accept a bowl bid. They simply don’t deserve it, especially after their embarrassing defeat at the hands of the South Carolina Gamecocks. They won as many games as they lost, and, well, bowl games — even in this misguided all-inclusive age when seemingly every school that fields a team gets a bid — should be limited to teams with a winning record, something the Tigers don’t have.
Now everyone knows that Clemson fans will turn out for a bowl game. They will buy up those tickets with the same fervor that Congress gives itself a pay raise. The faithful can’t help themselves. So it’s perfectly understandable that a D-list bowl, like say the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, would want a 6-6 Tiger team and all of its fans to show up on game day.
But here’s the thing: If you’re a team with an equal number of losses and wins and you accept a bowl bid, you have a 50-50 chance of ending the season with a losing record, or in Clemson’s case a 6-7 record. Frankly, I can’t think of anything more embarrassing in college football than for a team to go to a bowl and end the season with more Ls than Ws. As a diehard Tiger fan, I hope that Clemson University will see that accepting a bowl invitation that they clearly do not deserve is a disgrace.
That said, I doubt that the bean counters in the athletic department see it that way. If for instance the Kid with the Green Arm Bowl offers Clemson a chance to play in December, CU Athletic Director Terry Don Philips will gladly accept it — and the Tiger faithful will more than likely rejoice.
How do I know this? Well, I’ve already seen something similar happen this year in the world of politics.
Despite suffering one of the worst Election Day shellackings in U.S. history, the Democrats decided that the leadership responsible for this horrible defeat deserved to be reinstated. And so Nancy Pelosi may no longer be the Speaker of the House come January, but the Dems have decided that they still want her to be their quarterback, electing her to the post of House minority leader. I’m sorry, but the losers aren’t supposed to get the spoils of wars — or else I misread Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, and The 48 Laws of Power. And that’s possible. Alcohol impairs your judgment and clouds the memory. But I can say that I’ve watched enough episodes of The Apprentice to know that when a team loses, Donald Trump more often than not sends the team’s project manager home.
But as foolish as the Democratic Party’s decision to reward Pelosi for overseeing her party’s defeat was, nothing quite compares to the party’s decision to create a new position for her fellow Dem, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Now, I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that Clyburn was so desperate to retain a leadership role in his party — or to enjoy the perks of being a party leader — that his fellow Democrats conjured up a post out of thin air, the assistant leader position. Assistant leader? Really? Does that mean Clyburn is now the guy in the Democratic wing who is responsible for keeping the office supply closet stocked? The guy you go to when the bathroom runs out of hand soap and TP? The guy who gets your friggin coffee? Don’t they have interns for that?
There’s a lesson to be learned here, of course, whether you’re talking about college football or politics. And that lesson is that you can’t always be a winner and sometimes you don’t deserve a trophy — no matter how hard you try. And if somebody tries to give you one when you don’t deserve it, you turn it down. After all, there is dignity in losing. Only somebody who doesn’t care about winning is confused by that.