Drowning Out That Which is Redundant and Recycled in Sports

As a generally mindless, unsophisticated, and typically one-dimensional male, I will admit that ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPN News and ESPN 8 “The Ocho” are the first several channels that I flip to upon turning on my TV.

Even if there is no live programming going on, I never usually end up making it to the History or Travel channel. Through spiffy repackaging, witty hosts and flamboyant personalities, ESPN has managed to cycle the same material into five or six different shows. Then, because of the beauty of our informational age, we get video clips of the same stories on ESPN.com, not to mention article versions and transcripts of dialogue discussing the same issues.

There is one huge problem with all this recycling of news: certain choice pieces of news are grossly overemphasized—more overplayed than “I’ve Got a Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas.

Some main examples of said phenomena are Brett “Waffleman” Favre, Michael Vick (if he and Favre were ever traded for each other, ESPN would probably spontaneously combust), New England sports (it’s so bad my general patriotism and affinity toward red stockings has been affected) and Barry Bonds and the circus of steroid related stories.

In the end, all of the negative and annoying aspects of the sporting world are perpetrated constantly, drowning out everything that should really be focused on. Instead, a negative and cynical attitude has developed for the casual fan, with people left regurgitating what ESPN force feeds them.

What “Mike and Mike,” the hollering journalists on “Around the Horn” and various studio shows with ex-players and fired GM’s don’t emphasize is what make sports so irresistible and timeless.

So, what are sports all about? It’s about the unexpected underdog. So Taguchi, the career bench player with a skinny frame and two home runs on the year, hits a 9th-inning, tie-breaking home run off fire-balling Billy Wagner in Game 2 of the 2006 NLCS between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals. The story of how someone that no one expects to do anything can step up and prove everyone wrong will never get old for me.

It’s about the adrenaline rushes. UCI’s Late Night at the ARC hosted a dodgeball tournament that garnered a large crowd and an Average Joe vs. Global Gym-type atmosphere. Early on in the tournament, I found myself to be the last one on the court, one-on-one against the last guy left on the other team. I somehow pulled out a victory, and my teammates mobbed me on the court, jumping up and down, lifting me up and off the court. It didn’t matter that we weren’t even in the quarterfinals, or that the grand prize was just a t-shirt. At that moment, my epinephrine levels were off the charts, and I didn’t have a single worry in the world.

It’s about the game of inches. In the 1999 Super Bowl, the Tennessee Titans were driving down field against the St. Louis Rams with less than two minutes left in the game. St. Louis was up by 7, but Titan quarterback Steve McNair was now moving the ball with ease. As the clock wound down to its last few ticks, McNair found Kevin Dyson up the middle, a few yards away from the end zone. As Dyson lunged forward towards touchdown territory, Ram linebacker Mike Jones stopped him dead in his tracks, a few feet short. Time ran out, and the confetti fell. Had Jones been just a second later to the tackle, the history books would have been re-written forever.

It’s about the anxious anticipation. Every game-winning field goal, buzzer-beater basketball shot, breakaway in hockey, shootout in soccer and every 3-ball, 2-strike pitch in baseball — the payoff pitch. It’s that tennis match point rally, the runner ready on the blocks or that boxer withstanding a barrage of punches to be saved by the bell. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the stands or in on the action, your heartbeat will start pumping a little faster and a little louder. This is when the truly elite are separated from the pack. Their ability to remain calm and unfazed and ultimately come through in the clutch is an analogy for just about everything human beings strive for in life.

These are not the events or instances that ESPN will keep on rehashing. But these memories are mine to cherish and enjoy. The best that sports has to offer is not something that we should just talk about and debate. Go out and experience them fresh for yourself … even if “The Ocho” is the only channel offering coverage.