Thursday, March 10, 2005

 

ESPNU - A Sign Of The Times

ESPN U has recently been launched by the sports television giant. Besides ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News and ESPN Sports Classic, the new ESPN U will bring 24/7 college sports programming. Why is this a sign of the times? Because the "biggest name in sport programming" has recognized the slow deterioration in the number of fans of professional sports. Or, at least the continued disgust with the big four professional sports. I have no numbers to back me up on this one, but as most of my friends are male sports freaks, I can attest to their - and my - change in sports watching habits over the last few years. As a kid I grew up wanting to be Walter Davis (Phoenix Suns), Steve Garvey (Dodgers) and Roger Staubach (Cowboys). Somehow I could see myslef being those guys. Over the last ten or so years however, I have become less and less in touch with the sports professional. Part of this is the money gap. Another big part is the complete lack of a shared culture. Despite my older age, I just could not picture myself in the schoolyard yelling "check me out, I'm Allen Iverson!". Somewhere between the basketball players negotiating not to be tested for weed, hockey players refusing to settle for a salary cap which would really only limit the number in front of the words "million dollars" describing their salary, and a huge group of baseball players busted for steroids, I just don't feel like I have anything in common with the professional athlete anymore. And I think that the same sentiment is being felt by many sports fanatics.

This is where the college sports comes in. Most of us can remember the good times in college - and long to be back there. Teams and Universities do contract for endorsements, but individual players do not. Most teams also have handfulls of players who barely made the team and who now put out 125% everytime there number is called. Even more inspiring are the non-scholarship athletes who have devoted themselved to the perfection of a sport which is not likely to lead to a profession in that sport. All the while, these kids are going to school. We can all still relate our daily lives to the hard work, dedication and low pay these athletes embody. I can see myself as one of them. This is why Joe sports fan is getting away from the tatoo laden, complaining about their multi-million dollar salary, barely english speaking, drug doing, law breaking, pampered princesses/wanna be gangstas of professional sports. Thanks ESPN - no thank U.



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