The Super Bowl is this Sunday, and like most Americans I will watch the Denver Broncos play the Seattle Seahawks while drinking beer, eating chicken wings and yelling at the TV, often simultaneously.
I will watch the pre-game show, because I’m a fan of any TV program in which five millionaires sit around a desk and fake-laugh while veiling their mutual contempt. I will watch the commercials because some of them are more entertaining than whole movies. I will watch the halftime show in case there are nipples. But I will not watch The Puppy Bowl. The Puppy Bowl is terrible.
The Puppy Bowl launched on Animal Planet in 2005. Like a sucker, I tune in every year expecting improvement from the puppies, but they continue to disappoint.
Animal Planet, it’s time someone said it: puppies are terrible at football.
I hardly know where to begin. Let’s start on offense. The puppies have no offensive strategy. There is no huddle. No plays are called. Is there a quarterback? No one seems to want the responsibility. Worse, the ball is often left unattended in a corner with no effort made to retrieve it. As a Cleveland Browns fan, I’m used to that. I expect more from puppies.
The defense is a joke. Most of the players seem more interested in socializing than stopping the opposing team. Defense wins championships. It’s about tenacity. It’s about the will to win. It’s about scratching and clawing and breaking the opponent before you. You cannot break an opponent’s will by sniffing his derriere, especially if he’s open to it.
What’s sad is that all of this terrible play might be prevented if the referee un-swallowed his whistle and called a foul once in a while. Every play is a laundry list of penalties – illegal formation, offsides, encroachment, clipping, holding, late hits, you name it. And I’m sorry, but Unnecessary Ruff-Ness, Illegal Use of the Paws and Illegal Retriever Down Field are not real penalties. The ref only seems to blow his whistle to call attention to when something adorable is happening.
Since when can you bite and then hump your own teammate during a game and it’s OK?!? (Outside of Oakland.)
The problem, I very much believe, is the Puppy Bowl culture. In Puppy Bowl VI, Jake the Chihuahua Pug was awarded the game’s MVP award by Animal Planet (see video) for nothing more than running around. Jake didn’t score, kick a field goal or make a goal-line stand. This teaches the impressionable puppies watching at home to value the absence of skill, teamwork and sportsmanship. It’s probably why most puppies today are so immature and most of the puppies who make it to the big game don’t know how to handle the spotlight.
What can be done? Well, we can’t ignore the Puppy Bowl. It’s too big. It’s ingrained in our popular culture. So we have to fix it.
Before these puppies are ever put on national television, they should be taught how to block, run, pass, receive and tackle as a team unit. We’ll need to start puppy football teams on college campuses or create developmental leagues where puppies learn that the gridiron is more than just a place to run around like a fool.
For the puppies who have the right stuff, the Puppy Bowl and perhaps even a roster spot on the Cleveland Browns await.