You play to win the game!

“This is what’s great about sports. This is what the greatest thing about sports is. You play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game. You don’t play it to just play it. That’s the great thing about sports: you play to win, and I don’t care if you don’t have any wins. You go play to win. When you start tellin’ me it doesn’t matter, then retire. Get out! ‘Cause it matters.” – Coach Herman Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach (NFL)

So far in this American football season…

We have the surprisingly good:

  • New York Giants (NFL): Had their will-be-hall-of-famer Michael Strahan retire over the off-season and lost their best defensive end Osi Uminyora to season-ending injury during the pre-season. Yet the team starts off 4-0 (even though they lost their last game last Monday night).
  • Tennessee Titans (NFL): Lost their starting quarterback Vince Young to injury in the first game of the season. Yet they are the only undefeated team in the NFL at 5-0.
  • Vanderbilt University Commodores (NCAA Division I FBS): Perennially at the bottom of the always tough SEC conference and known for the school’s grades than varsity football. Started this season 5-0 overall with the school’s best ever start to the football season.

The surprisingly bad:

  • Cincinnati Bengals (NFL): Started 0-6 despite being 7-9 last year. One the league’s prolific offenses in previous years is now dead last in offense (in total yards) due partially to the on-and-off injuries to the starting quarterback Carson Palmer.
  • Rutgers University Scarlet Knights (NCAA Division I FBS): After the magical 2006 season and the three straight appearances in bowl games, Rutgers starts the season 1-5 and looks like they will miss the out in the bowl season.

And the surprisingly both good and bad:

  • Baltimore Ravens (NFL): With a new head coach this season, many had them written off after rookie Joe Flacco took the starting quarterback spot after injury to Kyle Boller and illness to Troy Smith during pre-season. Baltimore started 2-0 on tough defense and good game management. But without a solid offense, Baltimore dropped the last three games to be at 2-3.
  • San Diego Chargers (NFL): Many had San Diego as a super bowl contender during the offseason. But then a season-ending injury to all-star defensive end Shawne Merriman during training camp along with a slow 0-2 start, many started writting off San Diego. San Diego has since recovered to be at 3-3.

whitehatazn-48.jpgThe simple thing to note from the above is that many things may change from the initial expectations. This is what makes sports unique. Players and teams need to validate the expectations on the playing field thought the season. In every season and in every sport, someone falls to or surpasses expectations.

With the startup of the fall 2008 season, anime fans are already making their decisions on what new series to follow. Browsing around the bloggosphere and other online anime mediums, I (unfortunately) stumble upon AnimeNewsNetwork’s Fall 2008 Preview. Outside of the integrity of doing a spring review and ANN’s constant hate towards moe fandom, my disappointment of the preview comes from the passing of judgment on a series in such a short time so early. Now granted, most of the reviews didn’t completely discount a series nor made one to be best of all. However, with the ratings and the limited timeframe of short reviews only to the first two episodes, one can get the feeling that ANN’s passing its “final judgment” only on the first 1/6th, 1/12th or 1/13th of the series.

I bring up Coach Herm Edwards classic line because it describes the insignificance game talk and analysis in comparison to playing the game itself. If the games were played exactly to how the analysts expect the game outcome, then some of the greatest events in sports would not have happened (the Miracle on Ice, Giants over Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and my alma mater’s 1985 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship come to mind).

I view anime in a similar context. Not necessarily in the manner in which anime is playing a game per se, but in the context of reviewing based on timeframe. Shows need some time to develop its potential. Rarely shows start off hitting home runs and maintain that momentum throughout the life of the show. Heavy criticism now is like trying to find a Super Bowl or World Series contender during a pre-season game.

Few shows rarely hit it out of the park in the first few episodes… Oh wait, nevermind… (Yes, I did use this horrible analogy to fit another captioned image into this post).

Even though there wasn’t anything explicitly telling in the ANN previews (outside of the traditional ANN moe hatefest), knowing that the ANN previews will never go beyond the first two or so episodes opens up more questions as to the purpose for ANN to do such a feature. As for the rest of the bloggosphere, let’s try to keep an open mind about it. A show can’t become a complete lost cause in the first few episodes and thus shouldn’t be branded as such when the first two episodes stunk it up. At the same time, we shouldn’t be proping shows as the “greatest thing sliced bread” after the first two episodes either. Give it a go for at least a few more then either set it on fire or praise it as your new holy canon.

Yet, always use your better judgement. Never again will I pull a Yoakena and watch 10 (of 12) episodes of a bad show only to drop it. That cabbage continues to haunt my dreams…


One Response to You play to win the game!

  1. TheBigN says:

    It’s one of the things that bugs me about both ANN and when people drop a show a even a couple of episodes into it. I understand their rationale in doing so, but it severely restricts what you want, and depending on the specific reasons for dropping and panning a series a few episodes in tells me a bit about you, and whether or not that’s positive or negative.

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