overthinking the idiot box

May 22, 2006

Everything you ever wanted to know about sports on TV.

At The Buzzer
YouTube, ShmooPube

by Alan Bloom

Yeah, uh, so I've been spending a lot of time on YouTube.com. Not even by choice, really. It just sort of... happened. And continues to happen. I realize it might already be tired at this stage in the game to comment any further on YouTube and that it is only tangentially related to sports on television, but you know what? It's begging for another once over. Plus it's eating up a ton of my free time.

The internet is aiming to eclipse television perhaps sooner than we think. Whether it is a game or a sports-themed program, YouTube and all of its knockoffs are paving a way for us to live permanently in television nostalgia and pop-culture bliss until that moment happens. And, for now, it is free of charge. Be it low-grade (and lowly rated) original roundtable discussion programs regarding "sports" or fully developed, well-plotted shows — "comedies," if you will — with sports imbedded in the title (though they not actually be about sports or laugh-out-loud funny) or that rare e-mail phenomenon read aloud by its honoree on a show you would never punish yourself to sit through in its entirety, there is a revolution brewing. One with suspect video quality and riddled with legal vagaries, but a new medium nonetheless.

I, for one, am not yet ready to give up my perfectly capable television set, but the internet's prime motive of capturing moments of fame and infamy and seeing to it that those moments are preserved forever may never be more fully realized than it is on YouTube.
I, for one, am not yet ready to give up my perfectly capable television set, but the internet's prime motive of capturing moments of fame and infamy and seeing to it that those moments are preserved forever may never be more fully realized than it is on YouTube. As a sports fan, we live for those moments. We watch games for those moments. Of course, you'd need to endure that whole game, season, decade, however long it may be in order to fully grasp the significance of what you're seeing, but they're electric all the same. It's what networks like ESPN Classic thrive on, only condensed for those short on attention span. But there are improvements upon that ESPN Classic formula, too. Not only can you now get your highlights from the big game , but also revel in the pageantry that follows. Even if it's half a world away.

What about YouTube as history lesson? The year 1987 may only seem like yesterday to some of us (all things being relative, I'd say that it was five years ago), but knowing how slick, stylized, and visceral a show like SportsCenter — the sports fans' god is, we see that 1987 was a long time ago, indeed. Perhaps even more than the dithering anchor and bland studio set, I particularly love what passed for beer commercials back then. Notice that in the Budweiser ad, there were no bullet trains tearing ass through a packed stadium with topless cheerleaders hosing each other down with beer. Instead, it was of a man celebrating the birth of his child while his coworkers covered for him at work. Beer: making America stronger. It's exciting to think, though, that if our sports highlight shows have grown this much in twenty years, what new innovations will arise in the next twenty. I'm telling you, the internet is on it. And as soon as sites like YouTube are forced to remove footage that they do not possibly have the express written consent to broadcast online, a legitimized website will step forward to carry that mantle.

For instance, CBS Sports' One Shining Moment montage, shown annually at the end of March Madness, featuring Luther Vandross rocking the mic, is laced with copyright fraud. But one has to imagine that even the authorities will look the other way on this one if only because sports montages are so enjoyable. Either that or they don't care, but let's pretend this assemblage of words has an ultimate point.

Hey, all I know is that I can watch my favorite sports moment of the year any time I damn well please and I don't have to wait for a DVD box set and skip through the rest of that game to get there. All that about sports fans living for those memorable moments? The kind that can be compiled into an emotional montage with a classic rock tune blended with unforgettable play-by-play calls? The kind that the fool writing this article is a sucker for, that makes him a little misty? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Even if you're as unsure about what you just read as I am, you know what I'm talking about.


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