Our Daily Dread: Putting ‘sport’ in sports TV … for better, worse or simply to confuse the situation (and hide the truth)

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It’s in the title, so it must be sports worthy. Therefore, we’re expected to watch.

Just ask those who endured all those years on “The Best Damn Sports Show Period.”

The other day, we pulled up the DirecTV grid in search of a title. It had “sports” in it. And it made us realize that “sports” doesn’t always sell a sports show like some who name them may think they do.

Listed in between SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon and Springtime for Hipsters on the Playboy Channel, we found maybe a dozen or so shows with the word “sports” in their title.

If we weren’t familiar with them, we checked them out. If we knew them, we watched again. With that, we have them ranked, in order of when we come across ‘em, we stop to watch:

THE TOP FIVE:

1. “Sports Challenge”

The ultimate campy quiz show we used to watch as a kid on KTLA Channel 5 but now catch enough on either ESPN Classic or the Game Show Network. The older the episode, the better. There’s been nothing like it since. The timecapsule that Dick Enberg hosted (often wearing a white sport coat and white shoes) and is replayed often is only outdated in the facts have changed since it last aired in the late ’70s. You watch for many reasons: Which of the contestants have passed away? Which one has O.J. Simpson on as the special “shadow” final guessing game? Here’s an episode from the other day: The Boston Red Sox, with Fred Lynn, Bill Lee (wearing his lucky Hawaiian shirt) and manager Darrell Johnson are playing the California Angels, with Bobby Bonds, manager Dick Williams and Frank Tanana. That “Sports Challenge” logo is one of the all time classics as well. And Enberg just mentioned there are records for sale with Sports Challenge great moments. They’ve got to be on eBay somewhere.


2. “Sport Science”

Fox Sports Net programming series that never gets old. There’s host John Brenkus still taking us into an airplane hanger, trying to get James Loney to hit a Whiffleball pitch, or see if stuntman Damien Portier can jump over a speeding sports car (spoiler alert: no). There’s never a bad episode, or one I haven’t watched from start to finish when I come across it. Force, mass, energy and hype converge like nothing else, because it’s all explained by gravity.

3. SportsCenter

ESPN’s staple news show, but we can often skip it because, well, there are so many options to find the same kind of video highlights. No other explanation necessary. Even the 30th anniversary special last Sunday with Berman-Ley-Saunders wasn’t must-see, and it appropriately started later than they wanted because of a NASCAR race that dragged on.

Because of it, and them, there are a list of cloned knockoffs and wish-they-could-bes that include this subset:
a) Sports Central: KCAL Channel 9′s daily 15 minute show, and KCBS Channel 2′s weekend studio wrapup show
b) Sports Zone: KABC Channel 7′s postgame show after big ABC events, with Rob Fukuzaki reading off the teleprompter with Brandon Hancock, Michael Cooper, et.al., adding their expertise.
c) Sports Tonight: On Comcast Sportsnet New England (also; Sports Sunday, Sports Tonight Live, Sports Net Central)
d) SportsNite: The generic Comcast sports desk show that you find no SNY, CSN, CSNC, etc.
e) Sports Day: Same as above, except it’s on during the day — sometimes overlapping with SportsNight
f) Sports Desk: NESN’s show, sometimes with blondie Kathryn Tappen who does a very admirable job opening her mouth when she talks. At the end of the show, the graphic: “Kathryn’s hair courtesy of Lisa at Salon Marc Harris.” Does that mean it’s a wig?
g) SportsCenter U: The ESPNU version of SportsCenter, but with co-eds phoning reports. On one we saw the other day, it was Corinne Crockett, a senior at UCLA majoring in communications who called in during the “Campus Connect” segment to give an update on the air quality leading up to the Bruins-San Diego State game. Ohmygawd.
h) SportsRISE: On Comcast Sportsnet Chicago featuring easy-on-the-eyes Sarah Kustok.
i) SKY Sports News: On the Fox Soccer Channel, from across the pond. Wait for it … There’s Charlotte Jackson with, “Now, to the top cricket story …” OK, I’m listening.
Oh, and a short-lived TV series dramedy, “SportsNight,” that you can buy on DVD if you’re so inclined (first episode came with laugh track).

4. “Sports Soup”

Sports Soup: Versus’ sports comedy video show hosted by Matt Iseman … video of Randy Cross trying to use the telestrator to circle the Pats-Benglas game to show Patriots’ Place… “fourth and long…” says Matt… moving to drag racing…
Where Ashley Force’s Funny car is engulfed in flames, drawing gasps.
Iseman: “She’s fine, but turns out those joke exploding engine are a lot funnier in theory than in practice. … Its an ‘hilarious’ car!” The funniest clip wasn’t intentional: It was Magic Johnson commercial for Rent-A-Center where you can get stuff “witout credit checks” … want a 42 inch flat screen? Just $30 a week. What a deal.
It can show a clip from “Sport Nation” … and make fun of it.
A woman butchering God Bless America at Dodger Stadium and a guy at a Cubs game shoving food in his face, …
A runner from Sudan named Abu Baker Kaki in the world championship in berlin tripping on the track and knocking over… Kaki tripped himself… “Kaki caused ‘em to fall? Boo Kaki.”

5. “The $ports Take”

On Versus, weekly Tuesdays, a business show with Rick Horrow. “The Sports Professor” on sports in America $750 billion business. It’s nto about highlights and prognostications. A little stiff…
A segment on Bust Boom and Hope … Stephen Strausberg’s signing … more of Horrow interviewing subjects in a somewhat stagnant manner but allows for more indept Q and A … a “voice of the fan” segment allows a 22-year old guy to talk about how he doesn’t’ want to pay $50 tickets or scalper … the longer im priced out of the stadiums I can stay at home or watch games at a bar watch multiple games at once in air conditioned…. And no parking charges. Also: $ports Money: YES 631 Friday 6:30 p.m. a biz of sports show. Sponsored by Forbes and presented by Fox Business Network. With Bob Lorenz. Wayne McDonnell on NYU School of Sports Management on revenues sharing. Much better produced halfhour show.

Honorable mention: “Sports Stars of Tomorrow,” painfully still hosted (script read) by Pat Summerall, which often pops up on a KABC or KCAL on a weekend to fill time between sporting events and tells us sometimes all about college athletes we already know something about.

THE BOTTOM FIVE:

1. “The Sports Reporters”

ESPN’s launching pad for obnoxious discussion between ego-maniacal sportswriters who need more than to simply need to hear themselves talk. Thankfully, out here, It’s buried on a Sunday morning schedule, hopefully when many are gone away to practice religious beliefs. It all really comes down to this: With Mike Lupica on the set, and Bob Ryan next to him, it’s unwatchable. On the DirecTV graphic description, it is listed simply enough as: “Guest reporters offer their opinions on current sports topics.” If it was only that simple.
Last Sunday’s episode got off on a tangent about USC’s football program under Pete Carroll. If Ryan, Lupica, William C. Rhoden and host John Saunders ever saw a USC game in person, or talked to Carroll, maybe we’d listen closer to their opinions. However….
“Every year, every year, I think SC is going to win (it all),” Lupica said, hijacking an opion Ryan started about Carroll’s ability to find a good quarterback.
As he lerched out of his chair again on the far right of the screen, his hands did the Berman-esque girating, and his voice grew … louder. Because that meant he had the floor.
“As good as Florida looks – and, by the way, I think Urban Meyer is the best football coach in the world – Carroll is in his ninth year there. His record is 89-15, and I swear they’ve underachieved. I really believe SC should have won more national championships than it’s won on Pete Carroll’s watch.”
At least Saunders had the ability to change the subject, because there was no where to go with that kind of “let me see how I can get a rise out of myself” statement.
Never confuse provocative with Prozac-induced blathering.

2. “SportsNation”

ESPN’s show with Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle, driven by comments from people named “disguyyy” and “Worldsbestdad2″ and “WhoDeyOchoCinco” and “TheTwixter” and “prettypoloboy” and “FatKid68.” with lots of bar charts popping up amongst their chatter and clatter … you get the idea Colin doesn’t want to share an argument with a pretty gal who looks like Cameron Diaz’s good looking little sister. The SN (as the logo says) tries to be interactive, but it’s a TV show spinning off a website that really allows people to vote on what they think. “You host the show along with Colin and me,” says Michelle. That’s not good dynamic. It’s about as vapid as “The View” with stemengs on pop culture, with some strange offcamera reaction from a studio audience or loud cameramen.
Hijinx, moving to ESPNEWS for 2 weeks during US open from ESPN2.
“What I think ….” A lot of catchy segements for ADD

3. “Sport Savvy”

Because this is on QVC, we were duped into thinking this was some kind of cool sports memorabilia like they have on Home Shopping Network once and awhile (even with Pete Rose pitching baseball cards of Brett Favre commemorative coins). Instead, we see this: Item A-92972: A sports Savvy Essentials Stretch French Terry 2-way Zip Tunic. Regularily $30. now for $25.60 with $5.47 shipping and handling. Availble in 3X. How savvy can that really be?
Quilted jackets, stretch pants, gym clothing, with a plus-sized Carolyn as the host.
Also: A-92905: Sport Savvy Stretch French Terry Cardigan with Ribbed Trim (ribbed for her pleasure) for $29.50. show segueys into a Lock and Lock food storage system … hate to let any food go to waste…

4. “Sports-a-holic”

Comcast Sportsnet Chicago Sundays 10:30 p.m.: Comedian and “populist folk hero” William “Bill” Kelly pays tribute to sports fans. He’s about the funniest guys he knows. Somehow he wasn’t included in the ensemble for “The Hangover,” but you think he was in the final 10. with cool sideburns and a Jim Carrey wanna be with an Ellen DeGenerous groove about his interviews where evyerhing is so damn funny especially when he says it.
He also has an “in your face” vlog at sportsaholictv.com and a twitter account.
Taped segments where he talks to people at sporting events.
Show is “based on an idea” by Laura and Lisa Grochocki
Senior and supervising editor: Joseph Grochocki, who also gets animation credit

5. Anything with “Sport Fishing” in the title.

We can start with “Sport Fishing with Dan Hernandez,” but we have to include this warning: The following is a paid commercial program. KDOC is not responsible for the claims and representations made by the sponsors of the program.” That’s why it’s on at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday. We practice Tivo and release of anything with low-production camerawork of guys yanking fish out of the ocean, holding it up, then admiring what they “did.” Sure, there are a lot of commercials in this paid-for show — like Dan Hernandez Fish Batter and Dipping Sauce (where 50 percent of the profits are donated to his youth foundation out of Cerritos). But otherwise, why are you watching someone doing something that you should be doing? Like golf.
The others like it out there:
a) Sport Fishing Magazine (Sunshine network, with tips on saltwater fishing)
b) Sportsman’s Adventures (Sunshine network)
c) Sportsman’s Outdoor Strategies (Versus network, inviting you to “join the SOS team for advice on your latest adventure)
d) Sportsman’s Tournament Adventures (Fox Sports Southwest)
e) Sportsmen of North America (Sportsman Channel

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