I really hate it when BigMedia takes a terrific story idea and dilutes its fun†with needless and distracting ideology/social commentary.†Most of us patronize sports to escape the shortcomings of the real world, after all. Jim Caple of ESPN’s Page 2 today took a fun and fascinating topic — 101 of sports’ fans must-see sporting events†– and gave it what I call the ESPN treatment: a decent amount of thought and persuasiveness, some cleverness,†but also†that outlet’s†characteristic politically correct/social re-engineering/insufferable, haughty, elitist†and condescending†lecture-posturing. What should have been a wholly fun and largely frivolous, debate-provoking summer read lapses at times into†an unintended parody of MSM values . . . the ones which†are seldom shared by an important constituency –†its readers/viewers.
Well, at least Caple got out of the starting gate in OK fashion. His top 5 must-see sporting events is as follows:
- Summer Olympics
- World Cup
- Winter Olympics
- World Series
- NCAA Subregional
Confession: no. 5, the college “Subregional,” I have no idea what that is. But the others, well, they bear the force of mass popularity behind them. You can have the World Cup, as for me soccer is chess played out on grass and patronized all too frequently by hooligans. (Rioting over 2 hours of scorelessness is understandable, but not for the reasons the Europeans and Third-Worlders do.) I was actually surprised at the high ranking for the Winter Olympics, seeing as how†little “diversity” there is among its athletes. Caple snuck one past his editor.
Caple then has the Masters in his top 10 (no. 8, which is fine); Wimbledon’s (9) ok too, so long as you’re seated at Centre Court and Maria Sharapova’s playing. His first really big error is with Michigan-Ohio State, at no. 17. I’m sorry, but that’s American Icon, almost certainly the biggest event†each year in the Midwest (that explains BigMedia’s devalue-ing it). A top 10-er for sure. ††
Hockey makes its initial appearance in Caple’s list at no. 20: The Stanley Cup playoffs. OK. You and I would have it higher, of course, but remember, this is the same outlet that ditched the NHL, and its postseason, in favor of† televised poker. And high school cheerleading competitions.
The weird distraction then begins with “The All-Africa Amputee Football Tournament,” (no. 34) contested in, yes, Sierra Leone. Huh? Novel, no? If you think soccer rioting makes for challenging spectating, try navigating machetes and land mines toward your stadium seat.
I think Caple must have sensed his being a bit in the minority with his enthusiasm for this event, cause he rationalized it with a you-must-be-a-moral-defect if you don’t agree†claim:
“The first tournament featured African war victims, six one-legged players and a one-armed goalkeeper to a side. If you need any more information than that to pique your interest, you might as well hand in your human race membership card.”
Well,†here’s mine, Jim, cause while that donneybrook is taking place I’d rather be following Tiger on the back nine at Congressional. With a beer. Actually, I’d rather be seated at a pro poker tourney†–†in the Midwest, preferably,†where I’d†be unlikely to be seated next to a warlord. ††
Question: how many have you have ever Tivo-ed a Tennessee Lady Volunteers’ basketball game? Jim Caple apparently has; it’s in his top 50 of must-see sporting events.
Maybe Jim’s negotiable on some of these PC picks. How about we replace the dunk-challenged dames with say pro beach volleyball with Gabby Reece?
Caple’s second-most desired encounter with pucks comes at no. 37: the Frozen Four. Immediately after it is a Canadiens’-Leafs’ tilt. He can keep the World Figure Skating Championships (no. 57), as I’m no big supporter of corrupt French judges, unrivaled vanity, and Will Ferrell movies that understate a sport’s excesses.
The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships sit perched at no. 66. Maybe 50 or 60 slots too low for my shinny heart, but I liked Caple’s description of them:
“How cool is this tournament, played the way hockey is meant to be played (on a frozen lake shoveled off by the players themselves)? Brian Bellows played in it after his 10-year NHL career.”
The Beanpot lands at no. 73. “Junior league hockey in small-town Canada” arrives at no. 80. And finishing off hockey’s participation in this exercise is the Minnesota†schoolboy tourney, at no. 82.
Might be fun for our readers to submit their own top 10 must-see events.†Any takers for the World Midget Female†Speed Tree Climbing Championships†in Oregon in spring? (no. 86 on Caple’s list)