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Family of fans teams up for sports on TV
VITAL TRIFLE, BY LAURI GROSS
Family of fans teams up for sports on TV
When the TV is on at our house, it is most likely tuned to ESPN. Or ESPN 2, or ESPN Classic, or ESPNU, featuring nonstop college sports, or ESPNews. We are a family of sports fans.
Personally, I'm not sure if I am a sports fan because I watch ESPN or if I watch ESPN because I am a sports fan, but either way I am glad to have ESPN as our default channel.
First of all, there are a lot of worse things my kids could be watching. Sometimes they do watch those other, worse things, but we always end up back on ESPN. On ESPN there is no sex, drugs or violence. True, there is sometimes talk of athletes involved with drugs, violence or sex scandals, but at least we don't have to see it, and at least the commentators talk about these scandals as bad things, rather than treating them the way sitcoms or dramas do -- as wonderful adventures.
By the way, ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. Betcha didn't know that.
When athletes are interviewed, they talk about hard work, teamwork and loyalty. They talk about learning from mistakes, about being inspired by their idols, about families sticking together. Of course, there is plenty of talk about fallen idols, like Tiger Woods and Barry Bonds, but the lesson is that we are each in control of our own choices, which can help steer us toward our goals or really screw up a good thing.
My son and husband love to watch whole games on TV. Sometimes I'm by their side if the Buckeyes are in a bowl game or some other high-stakes contest is being waged. But usually, I watch intermittently, playing cards with my daughter, reading a book or cooking dinner in between the big plays that are shown over and over on instant replay. Even if I'm not watching the game, I enjoy the atmosphere it brings to the house. There is cheering and energy and enjoyment -- and, all too often, bitter disappointment, but still ...
I'm more inclined to like the commentary -- rather than the actual games -- which there is no shortage of on ESPN. They can make a pregame show last longer than the actual game. They can analyze Brett Favre's retirement even more than Brett Favre himself. And yes, they are still talking about Michael Vick's rise and fall and rise.
I enjoy it, because, for the most part, I approve of the message my kids get from it. But also the commentators have so much fun sparring with each other, it's hard not to enjoy it. Sometimes they don funny outfits or refer to each other by silly nicknames. They often stand on pretend playing fields electronically created on the floor of the TV studio and re-enact important plays from a game. They challenge each other on sports trivia, crack up laughing at each other's lame jokes and are quick to express strong opinions on everything from a team's chances of winning to a player's reasons for losing or a coach's new hair style.
The commentators include a lively mix of men, women, old, young, black, white and everything in between. Everyone has their say: former players and coaches, current stars and the experts who live by the stats.
I like seeing icons like Terry Bradshaw and Charles Barkley behind the microphone. They never take themselves too seriously, and you know they know what they are talking about when they share what it's like to be on the field or court. I also like seeing all the women sports experts. Some are teeny, petite things who have to hold the microphone at their eye level to get it anywhere near the face of the huge athlete they are trying to interview.
Who doesn't love a good underdog story? ESPN is full of them. A low-ranked team kicks the butt of the presumed champion. A kid from a hard-knock life overcomes everything to become a hometown hero. A beloved athlete returns to the playing field after a terrible injury. It's like all those inspiring sports movies but without Hollywood's interference.
When my husband was a kid growing up in South Euclid, the Plain Dealer and the radio were his main sources of sports news. He was a paper boy. He used to get up in the dark early morning hours to deliver the PD, and he'd anxiously check out the front page for news about the previous day's Tribe game. He says, usually there would be a picture of Chief Wahoo with a broken feather and a black eye to indicate a loss. Except when there was a double header. Then he'd have two black eyes.
His knowledge and love of sports was totally Cleveland-centric. Now, with ESPN and all the other sources of sports news, our son's love of sports is broader. He can see former Buckeyes now in the pros, like AJ Hawk, in the Super Bowl. He can see our great former pitchers winning it big with some other MLB team. He remains a true Cleveland fan, but he is also a fan of other individual players on various teams outside of Cleveland, mostly because he gets to watch them on ESPN.
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