Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Selling Your Soul to the Devil/Michael Eisner

Believe it or not the majority of young Americans get their news from two sources; Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “Sportcenter.” ESPN, which apparently stands for “everything sports network” has fallen further from greatness than the Chicago Bulls. However, both are laughing stocks that think they are doing the right thing for their fans.

In the late 90’s (I think) ESPN merged with Disney and the rest is history. Sportcenter went from a solid newscast with entertaining anchors to a broadcast for flunky comics who like a sport.

During a broadcast you can watch such segments as “fact or fiction.” This segment is where the so-called analyst/washed up athlete gives insight that any half sober mind could derive. They spend about five to eight minutes speculating everything that could possibly happen while dropping cliché sports metaphor after metaphor. “They are just going to have to play this series one at a time.” Can you play more than one at a time? Take your University of Georgia sprots degree back home bucko.

What is the most frustrating thing is that the analyst many times just doesn’t know which to pick, fact or fiction. Say either fact or fiction. The longer you take the more you perpetuate your dumb jock stereotype. If ESPN knew anything (ha!) they would realize the audience already knows that the analysts are only reading what someone wrote for them.

Our broadcasting talent is at the stage of passing the torch. Tom Brokaw is leaving the nightly news and whom is he passing off to, Brian Williams (an appropriate name for a monotone generic fill in). The same goes for Sportcenter. Dan Patrick and Keith Olberman were the Smothers Brothers of sports. They were smart, passionate, and tactful with their humor. Who do they leave us with? John Kruk, John Clayton (Perdue chicken man), and some other nameless yaps neither of whom probably own a pair of shoes that tie.

In a society where the only people on a newscast that actually demonstrate a personality is the weather and sports anchor these chaps have overlooked moderation like a freshman at their first party. The news desk has turned into that lunch table next to the cool kids. Saying any and everything to fit in and be liked by the rest of us. Think about it, why else would they say “Shaq-Daddy?”

Recently on SC they had the “sportcenter final exam.” For those uninformed this is where some athlete are asked tough questions about current events with the catch being all different types of sports. I am sure some charity gets money out of this because if they were being lame for the sake of being lame well that would be rather Disney now wouldn’t it?

Apparently Mickey Mouse likes to kick back with a cold one now and again. A beer maker sponsors just about every segment in Sportcenter. I have two favorite spots. The Coors Silver Bullet – Six-pack of questions. Wow, I don’t know who was the savvy mind that drew the connection between beer and a six-pack. I am glad somebody in the advertising world has the gall to direct market to the sororities across our nation.

My other favorite segment on the show is the Budweiser Hot Seat. Remember the adage of being in the hot seat meaning you were basically going to be verbally crucified? Well a journalist with integrity would ask tough questions and since there are none at ESPN they ask a handful of high school level questions. I could be wrong, maybe some athletes dread someone asking them “do you think the Cubs will go all the way this year?” Excuse me Troy Wingo do you have a towel? That question just made me sweat my fellas off.

Maybe I should not blame the journalists; maybe they are a direct reflection of the sports world. Born upon the principles of honor, integrity, and pure, bloody, tearful, joyous competition we have soiled all prosperity with ties of tragedy, scandal, and arrogance. There comes a transition in which we grow young to old, ignorant to wise, and in this case a transition from sport to business.

Sports have not been simply a game for quite some time. We used to let the game speak for itself and there was really no point to post game interviews. Fortunately Michael Eisner has given the sports world his herpetic touch to the industry. From here on out we’ll have our champions acquitted from all charges, brought to you by a frothy beer, and the understudy for Goofy will tell it only like the high glam diva of the sports world could.

We could only hope that the next malfunction at a sport broadcast involves the microphones.

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