Sporting event or game show?
By Tim Keown
Page 2 columnist

Here's a perfect example of the increasing meaninglessness of the professional sports experience:

At the end of the Timberwolves-Kings game last week, Sac's Brad Miller dropped in an uncontested shot with 1.7 seconds left in overtime. The Timberwolves had already won, they weren't guarding the guy, and just about everybody in the building was grabbing a jacket and swearing into the beer-soaked floor. The Kings' home-court winning streak was over. Latrell Sprewell had been out-of-his-mind good. Miller's shot made it a three-point loss. People were pissed. The shot meant nothing.

And yet ...

Hip Hop
The hoopla surrounding sporting events is often pretty lame.
As soon as Miller's shot hit the twine, the public-address announcer launched into a full-throated "Brrrr-aa--ad Mill-ll-lll-errrrrr!"

Where did that come from? What the hell? It might as well have been a police siren for how out of place it was.

But one of his guys had made a shot, and it's the PA announcer's job to let 'em know, to whip those fans into a frothy-jowled frenzy with his renowned rendition of that wonderfully melodious name: Brad Miller.

Forget the game. Forget the fact that the people he was trying to impress didn't give a damn. Forget everything about the rhythm of athletic competitions, baby, because any time is a good time to scream.

In this day of smoke machines and laser-light shows and dancing cows, fans have been "entertained" into submission. You don't own the experience anymore; it's simply thrust upon you. Good luck trying to roll with the ebb and flow of a game.

If your team calls a timeout after the opposition runs off 10 straight points, don't hang your head because ...

... it's time to dance!

If your team scores 10 straight and the other team calls timeout, you can't turn to the guy next to you and talk about it because ...

... you might get hit by a flying T-shirt!

I had a marketing man tell me once that ticket prices are so high teams can't justify giving their fans only a game. There has to be more than a game, and someone decided long ago that more than a game means a complete assault on the senses.

It's a pity, too, because there are still times when watching the game is the only reason we're there.

This Week's List

  • If the NFL were run by BCS standards: Maybe the outcome of the San Diego-Detroit game would have had an impact on whether the Ravens or the Bengals win the AFC North.

  • Actually, judging by BCS standards: San Diego-Detroit might have had an impact on who wins the NBA's Pacific Division.

  • And the even better thing about the BCS is: It not only botched the national championship idea, but it ruined all the other bowls, too.

  • It wasn't that long ago that he was telling an interviewer that he hadn't been fined this year because "people are finally listening to me": Mark Cuban, fined a reported $100,000 for anti-officiating comments he made on Nov. 15.

  • Further proof that politicians are always out of touch with the flow of public opinion: Tom Osborne broke his silence on the Frank Solich firing, saying the decision came as a surprise to him.

  • Between now and the Sugar Bowl, Bob Stoops has one job: Keep from getting too defensive about his team's stroke of incredibly good fortune.

  • Wait'll Jeremy Shockey hears about this one: Patriots lineman Matt Light has agreed to be a contestant -- if that's the right word -- on an upcoming episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

  • I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing you've got to work pretty hard to find a house worth $2.1 million in Akron: LeBron James has reportedly purchases a 12,600-square foot, 11-bedroom house in Akron for that very price.

  • Bowl update: Sorry, but if you're 6-6, stay the hell home.

  • Just for the heck of it: Russell Erxleben.

  • Hey, we know where you're going with this, so why don't you just get there first and spare us the "good loser" act?: Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen's written statement on the BCS mess began, "Congratulations to Oklahoma and LSU on their fine seasons."

  • A show so sad it made "Brian's Song" look like "The Benny Hill Show": "The Season," featuring the gradual meltdown of Dennis Rodman, still harboring NBA fantasies.

  • And finally, now the question has to be asked: Is Kansas State the best college football team ... ever?

    Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.





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