RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And the college football bowl season kicks off this weekend with Celebration Bowl. Commentator Frank Deford says he wouldn't be surprised if you've never heard of it, given the huge number of bowl games that are held these days.
FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: I love corny sports terminology. My favorite newspaper word is tilt, meaning game. Have you ever, even once in your life, heard anybody speak the word tilt when they mean game? No, you haven't. The best term in broadcast is shaken up. The quarterback could have his throwing arm ripped from his body, and the announcer would say he is shaken up. Have you ever, even once in your life, heard anybody use the expression shaken up when they mean hurt real bad? No, you haven't. But my favorite sports word of all is friendly, which is what meaningless international soccer games are called - friendlies. No, I'm not a jingoist, but say this for the good old USA - when we have two teams playing a game that doesn't count, we call it what it is, which is an exhibition. The National Football League has tried to get suckers to call exhibitions pre-season games, but most of us savvy American fans haven't fallen for that. Actually, tennis has an even snappier alternative term for exhibition - just exo. I like that. I was mulling this over because we now have some 40 college football bowl games spread over six weeks. And some serious people are very shaken up because, this year, there are so many of these alleged bowl games that they ran out of teams with winning records to play in them. I'm sorry, although I personally am not any more upset about that than when Germany's soccer team may be playing a friendly with Sri Lanka or Rafael Nadal is playing an exo against Humpty Dumpty. There is no reason why college football can't be just as tacky as the greedy fat cats in international sport. And hey, if you, in the heart of the winter, want to travel hundreds of miles to see two rotten college teams that have nothing in common play each other in an exo, that's fine with me. Why don't we just admit it - that the main reason for these post-season friendlies is to let coaches get a few more weeks when they can keep players on the practice field instead of in the classroom? I say bowl games for everybody, that every football team in America give their all for ESPN in December and January. But face it, there's really only two bowl games this year, the Cotton and the Orange, when the teams in the final four face off for the right to meet in a college championship tilt. All the rest are friendlies and exos.
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