The Ups and Downs of Being a Carolina Panthers Fan

As of now, thanks to a humiliatingly bad performance on Monday Night Football from the immortal Jay Cutler, the Carolina Panthers do not control their own destiny even though, for just over 24 hours, they held the lead in the abysmal NFC South. 1)The NFL has eight regional divisions of four teams each. No team in the NFC South can possibly finish with more than 8 wins. The New Orleans Saints, courtesy of Mr. Cutler, currently stand at 6-8. The Panthers stand at 5-8-1. 2)The Panthers tied the Cincinnati Bengals 37-37 earlier in the season. The Atlanta Falcons stand at 5-9. Out of those three teams, the Panthers are the only team that does not control their own destiny.

It’s been a weird season. That tie, which occurred in Week 6 and preceded a six-game losing skid from the Panthers, was the first in the 20-year history of the Carolina Panthers. It ended in a tie only because at the end of overtime, Mike Nugent, the kicker for the Bengals, missed a field goal that would have given them the win. That six-game losing skid was marked by two types of games: ones where we gave it away at the very end (against Seattle and Atlanta) and ones where we didn’t look like we deserved to be on the same field as the other team (against Green Bay and Philadelphia). 3)Yes, I do use “we” when talking about my sports teams.

But the mental gymnastics necessary to make a playoff berth for the Panthers a realistic scenario aren’t too difficult! Seeing as every division winner makes the playoffs and gets at least one home playoff game, the odds aren’t that long. There are two things that need to happen: Carolina needs to beat Cleveland and Atlanta in the final two games of the regular season and New Orleans needs to lose one of their last two games against either Atlanta or Tampa Bay. There are other permutations but this one is the simplest. Once New Orleans loses even once, destiny falls back into the hands of the Panthers.

Why do I care so much? I’ve often found it hard to explain to outsiders why this team has had such an effect on me for my whole life. In January of 2004, Super Bowl XXXVIII, notable in the public eye as the one where a single nipple was a huge deal for some reason, also had a football game going on: the New England Patriots versus the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were making their first Super Bowl appearance ever. 4)As of right now, it is their only appearance. Long story short, the Panthers lost one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever in heartbreaking fashion on a last-second field goal. 11-year-old me was curled up in a ball on the floor, crying his eyes out. Why? Continue reading

Notes   [ + ]

1. The NFL has eight regional divisions of four teams each. No team in the NFC South can possibly finish with more than 8 wins.
2. The Panthers tied the Cincinnati Bengals 37-37 earlier in the season.
3. Yes, I do use “we” when talking about my sports teams.
4. As of right now, it is their only appearance.

Skyward Sword, Downward Spiral

WARNING: This article contains unmarked spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

Let me preface this half-review/half-some other thing with the qualification that I cannot and will not call The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword a “bad game.” Too much work and effort was put in by too many people for me to feel at all comfortable with dismissing it like that. I made a similar qualification before when discussing Grand Theft Auto V; some consideration has to be made for effort and personal taste when reviewing a game.

All that said, Skyward Sword deeply disappointed me to the point where I had to stop and think super hard about whether my problems were with SS in specific or with modern 3D Zelda games as a whole. Continue reading

Ace Attorney: How To Wright A Story

Here is an excerpt from the February 2004 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly:

“In real life, Japanese courts are so slow that it can take several years to complete a typical lawsuit. In the world of Gyakuten Saiban (available now in Japan for GBA), which translates to ‘Courtroom Reversal,’ it’s a different story—there’s no jury, no insanity pleas, and only three days to convince the judge that your client’s innocent. How do you, defense attorney Ryuichi Naruhodo, manage this? Simple: Visit the crime scene, gather evidence, and use it to rip the prosecutor’s case to shreds during cross-examination. It sounds boring, but the high-energy anime sequences and nutty characters have made Gyakuten Saiban one of Japan’s most popular adventure series—this third installment is coming to Japan in January 2004.”

Haha! What a weird game that has no chance of ever making it to America, right? Continue reading

NASCAR: The Times They Are A-Changin’

NASCAR is often a laughingstock. People criticize it for the perceived lack of skill necessary to compete—after all, all you really have to do is go fast and turn left. People criticize it for the lack of diversity at the top levels of the sport—after all, no matter how much Danica Patrick-centric advertising occurs, she still has yet to win a race and very few NASCAR drivers are people of color. People criticize it for the sport’s desperate attempts to remain relevant—after all, the championship system has undergone what seems like a change every year for the past decade. People “watch it only for the wrecks.”

These are all biased opinions, of course. Any of these can be turned on their head once you look at it from a different perspective. Yes, NASCAR seems simple, but it takes an incredible amount of endurance and skill to complete 500 miles on a track with 42 other cars at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour without totaling your car. Yes, NASCAR isn’t too diverse, but how many sports even allow men and women to compete against each other at the top levels? Yes, NASCAR is struggling to remain relevant, but can you blame it for trying? Continue reading

The Phantom Match and The Bloody Stadium

The following article is an edited excerpt from a much longer article I wrote as my undergraduate thesis my senior year at UNC – Chapel Hill. The topic of that paper is FIFA’s relationship with the Cold War during the 1970s. Should you wish to read the whole thing, it can be found here. I used three different case studies to illustrate my point, the first of which being the World Cup qualification play-off between the Soviet Union and Chile in November 1973. This case study will be found below, edited to be less academic and more accessible. Continue reading

The GL Guide To Finding An NBA Team To Call Your Own

As stated in the inaugural episode of the official Game Losers podcast, Game Losers Radio, “Now is the time. Time is now. Every now is forever.” That makes a lot less sense typing it out as opposed to me saying it out loud, and it didn’t really make a lot of sense to begin with. But my point stands! With the NBA, every now is forever. The point of our first podcast was to emphasize that this is the ideal time to get into the NBA. Think of this piece as a companion to the podcast, and also listen to the podcast if you haven’t already! The second episode actually comes out this Friday, so clear those pesky schedules of yours.

Anyway, the topic at hand. By the time you read this, the NBA season will have already started with three games the night of Thursday, October 28th! But there are 82 games in an NBA season, so there is plenty of time to hop on a bandwagon and somewhat arbitrarily pick a team or two to root for. Now, sometimes it’s as easy as picking your home team, but what if you don’t have a home team? 1)*pours a 40 out for Seattle* Or, what if you don’t feel any particular attraction to your home team? Well, this guide is for you!

Using unimaginably advanced metrics, painstaking research, and some dark magic, I have compiled a guide that will help anyone find out what team they are going to put on for. So go ahead and go to NBA.com and pull up the store, because you are about to buy like seven thousand dollars’ worth of memorabilia for a team you may never heard of before this moment. Let’s get started! Continue reading

Notes   [ + ]

1. *pours a 40 out for Seattle*

War Makes Men Mad: A Review of Valiant Hearts: The Great War

We do reviews differently here at Game Losers. I’m not going to bury the lede.

Is Valiant Hearts: The Great War worth playing? My answer to this question is yes. It has the most to offer if you are a fan of puzzle games or a history buff. Full disclosure: I am both. But, most importantly, it has a well-crafted (and heartbreaking) story that is accurately framed by its historical context. It’s relatively short—it can take anywhere from four to eight hours to complete depending on your skill with solving puzzles and interest in collecting the optional historical items scattered throughout the game. At $14.99, it’s an excellent value and, if it’s on sale for any amount less than that, even better. 1)I picked the game up from XBL for 66% off.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about why it’s a game worth playing.

Continue reading

Notes   [ + ]

1. I picked the game up from XBL for 66% off.

720°: You Either Skate Or You Die

Sports games have come a mighty long way since the 90s. Editor-in-Chief Roger Burton can tell you that much—he knows way more about the major sports game franchises than I could ever dream to learn (or want to learn, but that’s another story).  So I was pretty surprised when we were talking about NES games and he’d never heard of 720°. I mean, really? How do you know so much about sports and games and everything in between but not this? Come on, Burton, step it up. So anyway, now that I’ve proven that I actually know a sports game thing that Roger doesn’t know, I want to share with you all a little bit about this game.

And, of course, why it terrified me as a kid.

720flyer
The Ultimate Aerial Experience!

So, what horrors lurk beyond this gnarly facade? Well…admittedly, not that many, but I still feel weird whenever I think about this game.

Continue reading

Race in the Wide Worlds of Fire Emblem

-Notice: This article contains unmarked spoilers for Fire Emblem on the Game Boy Advance and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for the Nintendo GameCube.-

“Sub-human? Ha! What arrogance it takes to coin such a name! You think yourselves the only ones worthy of the name ‘human,’ and so we laguz must be beneath you? And thus you call us ‘sub-human.’ We are less than human to you, is that it?”

“I’m sorry…I don’t know any other name for you. If I have offended you, I apologize. What should I call you? Laguz? Would that be more appropriate?”

“Huh? You show manners? How odd. I like that. Now, you are…Who, exactly?”

“My name is Ike. Ike of the Greil Mercenaries.”

I recently finished a playthrough of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, my first time going through it in at least seven years. Though I knew it was a game that wasn’t afraid of tackling delicate issues, they hit a lot harder when I was old enough to really realize what they were talking about. Fire Emblem games have a reputation for depicting how fucked up royal families are—in one, a prince clandestinely murders his father so that he can become king and in another a king arranges to have his prepubescent son assassinated.

But that’s all par for the course and royal family fuckups aren’t necessarily things we deal with on a daily basis. What about race, though? Continue reading

Siena: The Long Gap Between Fantasy and Reality

Several months ago, I came within inches of ordering a kit from an Italian football club 99% of the people in America have never heard of. 1)Football = soccer. Kit = jersey. The club is Associazione Calcio Siena, or A.C. Siena. The player wears the number 10, and his name is Luca Longo. He holds just about every record there is to hold in the Siena record books, including 552 league appearances and 243 league goals for Siena. For Italy, he was capped 140 times and scored 58 goals. 2)In international soccer, a “cap” is an appearance for your national team.

A.C. Siena no longer exists.

It has been a swift and painful journey down for Siena. The team was in the top division of Italian football, the Serie A, as recently as the 2012-13 season. However, a series of very unfortunate events resulted in the club being forced to go into bankruptcy just a year after that last Serie A season. Because of that bankruptcy, the club could not register for the 2014-15 Serie B season and it was forced to fold. Let’s run through the events that led up to that bankruptcy.

  • Summer 2011: Siena finishes in the runner-up spot in the 2010-11 Serie B season and earns promotion to Serie A.
  • Summer 2012: Siena’s return to the top flight is rewarded with a respectable 14th place finish, eight points clear of relegation back to Serie B.
  • BACKTRACK TO JUNE 1, 2011: This happens. To be honest, match-fixing scandals happen a whole lot in Italian football. But this one was pretty big. Siena is implicated in the scandal but not formally punished until March 2012, when they are docked six points for the 2012-13 Serie A season.
  • Summer 2013: Starting six points (or two wins) behind most of your competitors is very difficult to overcome. 3)For the record, two other clubs were docked one points, and one club was docked two points. None of these clubs were relegated. Siena finished in 19th place, eight points away from safety. Siena would have to return to Serie B for the 2013-14 season.
  • Summer 2014: Siena are forced to start that season even further back for the previous one—they are docked eight points for “financial irregularities.” 4)As were the clubs Reggina and Bari, though they were only docked three points and one point respectively. Bari was docked a further three for their role in the scandal described above. What exactly are “financial irregularities?” In other words, they weren’t paying their players on time. They had registered for this season by the skin of their teeth; relegation takes a hard financial toll on a club. Despite the eight-point penalty, Siena missed qualifying for the promotion play-offs by just one point. Had there been no penalty, they would have finished third in the league and held the top seed for the play-offs. Instead, they remained in Serie B, failed to register for the next season, and declared their bankruptcy.

Siena has reformed, and is now officially Robur Siena Società Sportiva Dilettantistica, or Robur Siena S.S.D. They will start from the bottom, so to speak, mired in the fourth tier of Italian soccer, Serie D. 5)Something similar happened to the legendary Scottish club Rangers F.C. when it was forced to go into administration due to massive debts a couple of years ago. Serie D is not a professional league and, if you know your alphabet, you can conclude that it promotes to Serie C, which then promotes to Serie B, and so on. Long story short, it will be two years at the very least before Siena can even return to the second tier.

Now, you may very well be asking yourself a very important question: Why the fuck do I care? Continue reading

Notes   [ + ]

1. Football = soccer. Kit = jersey.
2. In international soccer, a “cap” is an appearance for your national team.
3. For the record, two other clubs were docked one points, and one club was docked two points. None of these clubs were relegated.
4. As were the clubs Reggina and Bari, though they were only docked three points and one point respectively. Bari was docked a further three for their role in the scandal described above.
5. Something similar happened to the legendary Scottish club Rangers F.C. when it was forced to go into administration due to massive debts a couple of years ago.