If you were looking to kill a few unwanted hours Sunday night, perhaps you watched the Pro Bowl.
The NFL’s biggest, brashest stars were on display, including the likes of Drew Brees, Odell Beckham, Dez Bryant, Richard Sherman and DeMarco Murray.
Yet the game was a lesson in intense boredom. The AFC eventually won, 20-13, and I know this only because I looked up the score Monday. I couldn’t make it to the Pro Bowl finish, instead flipping the channel to see the white-smiled Steve Harvey as host of “Family Feud.”
So how could a Pro Bowl so rich in talent be so poor in watchability? It has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with effort. The players on the field really didn’t care much about the outcome so the effort was laughable.
I’d argue you could have taken the 1-15 Cleveland Browns and beaten both Pro Bowl teams combined if the Browns played with intensity and the Pro Bowlers played like they did Sunday night.
Talent is only a small part of the equation. This explains why the New England Patriots can lose one of their best players, TE Rob Gronkowski, and still coast into the Super Bowl. It explains why the Patriots go 3-1 while QB Tom Brady serves a four-game suspension.
I use all these pro football analogies to make a seamless transition to Warren County athletics. When Pioneer fans put their heads together to talk about local sports, the popular opinion is our teams aren’t among the elite because we don’t have the talent. I’ve long argued that, like the teams in the Pro Bowl, we have the talent, but things are not tuned just right.
For anyone who says Warren County doesn’t have the talent to win, allow me to turn your attention to White County basketball. For some reason, despite having a smaller high school and thus a smaller talent pool, White County routinely beats Warren County in high school basketball, both boys and girls.
White County has 1,184 students, according to TSSAA numbers. Warren County has 2,053.
If you look at these White County teams, they don’t have physical specimens who are 6-foot-5 and dunking with both hands. Yet they beat us nearly every time.
Examining scores from Friday night, White County’s two teams combined to beat the Pioneers and Lady Pioneers by 39 points. You can’t convince me it’s because they have more talent.
If it came down to talent, the series would be a roughly 50-50 split because kids growing up in Sparta aren’t any different than kids growing up in McMinnville. There are dozens of intangibles and we can’t seem to get them to fall in place.