We watch... so you don't have to.

Good Sports

I enjoy watching sports, and it doesn't really matter what sport it is. I have a particular fondness for baseball, but I'll watch some football or basketball if it's on. I've seen more than my share of tennis, and I may be the only person who's willing to watch golf even though I don't play it myself. I've even watched some goofy non-sports like Slamball, which boils basketball down to its most crowd-pleasing aspect: the part where the mascot comes out and dunks off a trampoline. It's a great sport, if you don't mind watching the competitors frequently collide in mid-air and fall fifteen feet onto their spines.

But what I can't stand is shows about sports. It used to be that I'd happily watch SportsCenter for hours on end, even though it was the same hour repeated over and over again. That may have had something to do with not having had TiVo, so nothing else was on at 3 a.m. As recent as last week, I had a Pardon the Interruption Season Pass. But now I can only take about thirty seconds of any given sports commentary before I start twitching.

Partly, it's the desperate attempt to be hip. Not that I have a leg to stand on from which to point fingers at people feigning hipness, but is it strictly necessary for every single commentator, sportscaster, columnist, and sideline reporter to have their own catchy nicknames for every team and player? I'd be perfectly willing to enjoy, say, ESPN.com's Tuesday Morning Quarterback but I honestly can't be bothered to remember which team is "Jersey/B" and which team is the "Mouflons". And even if I did successfully commit to memory the Gregg Easterbrook glossary, that would do me no good anywhere else.

And then there's the desperate attempt of suit-wearing sports anchors to sound cool, by which I mean "black", by which I mean "Stuart Scott, shut the hell up. Dawg." If you're so obscure that I don't understand more than one word of ten, that doesn't mean you're the new Lord Buckley; it means you're somebody from whom I have just changed the channel.

So from now on, I'm going to stick to watching ESPN2 semi-sports. Like Timbersports, which are sometimes called "Lumberjack Challenges." You know the ones I'm talking about, there's the hotsaw, and the one where they have to stand on ledges they've jammed into notches in the tree so they're standing twenty feet off the ground while swinging axes around. And the bit where both lumberjacks are on a floating log, and they run in place while trying to make the other guy slip.

My favorite fake ESPN2 sport is the World's Strongest Man show. There's no fooling around there. You don't need instant replay to figure out which guy dragged a train farther. There's no appeals to the judge: you either lifted the huge boulder or you didn't. And those guys are great sports. In fact, they're the only good sports I've ever seen taking part in any athletic endeavor of any kind. When one huge Swedish guy is trying to hoist a massive tree-trunk over his head, every other competitor is cheering him on. Admittedly, weightlifters' "cheers" tend to sound a lot like "shouting obscenities at each other", but they really do seem to want each other to put forth their best effort. You don't see that in the cutthroat world of Slamball, I can tell you that.

All I want from my sports is something mildly diverting on the television while I do something else. I don't want to remember the difference between "da bomb" and "da bomb-diggity". I don't want to remember which athlete is which commentator's favorite. For that matter, I don't really want to remember the difference between a Left Wing, a Swingman, and a Slashing Cutter. I don't want to sit through endless speeches about how Shaquille O'Neal's return will turn the Lakers from a team that can't win on the road to an unbeatable juggernaut of mad skillz. I just want to watch the occasional sporting event.

The worst part is the halftime segments where a studio full of jackasses competes to be the most annoying. Right now, Terry Bradshaw is in the lead.


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