By Bill Tamburrino
The “good ol’ days” are gone. And that is a good thing.
I lived in the Valley of the Sun when television reception was more of a disaster than a joke. Before cable. Before satellite. Before hundreds of stations. We had two or three that could be picked up by antennas. Dave Casper was not the only ghost who played football on TV. Every football player, baseball player, basketball player and hockey player looked like a ghost on the tube. Most of the time one could see the football or basketball. Hockey pucks or baseballs? Forget about it.
Last week (June 8-14) was the best week of sports coverage in the history of television in Ramona (relatively short and inglorious history at best)!
If one had satellite or cable coverage, the tube was a virtual plethora of sports coverage.
It is baseball season, and baseball was on for those who are true fans and don’t like to be bothered by hits or runs. The Padres were on a road trip and could be seen in most of Ramona. Sorry about that. It is a local story, but six continents are represented in major league baseball.
On the national and international levels there was a great sporting event on every night. The NBA finally got around to the finals after what seemed like five months of playoffs and mindless discussions about Donald Sterling’s fitness, rights and ability to own an NBA team. Every member of the Clippers protested, but none failed to cash their checks. Five continents are represented in the NBA, unless you count Russia as two continents, and the league’s appeal in China is huge so let’s call it six.
The NHL had the best show on the tube. The Stanley Cup Finals was such great hockey that it didn’t need any fights. Ever notice that fights usually only occur during bad games? I am sure ratings have nothing to do with hockey fights. No coach ever said, “Start a brawl or people might change stations or leave early.” Hockey is only popular on two continents (unless you count Russia as two), but it is a North American game.
The U.S. Open in golf is really open to every continent but Antarctica. Really, we have to get the native Antarcticans to start producing athletes. Hockey would be a natural. Golf, however, is not in the cards. Finding a white ball in all of that snow would be a challenge.
Football is America’s Game and baseball is America’s Pastime, but soccer (the rest of the world including Kobe Bryant calls soccer "football") is the International Game. It is played on every continent, and every continent but Antarctica is represented in the World Cup. The World Series is not really a world series, but the World Cup is really a world cup.
This is what I came to realize. Hockey is the most intense sport. It is non-stop full speed action. When a line gets tired, there is a line change. As many as four lines are used in a match. Nobody can take a breather or time off. Every player is in on every play. That is not true in baseball, soccer, basketball or golf. Maybe the fights are not for ratings or to draw fans. They are the only time on the ice when everybody is not active unless it is a bench-clearing brawl.
Soccer takes the most skill. However, to a non-football aficionado, a really good football game is about as exciting as watching two men fish. Football has yet to reach the 20th century in officiating. Baseball, hockey, basketball and golf all have TV replays. Football doesn’t even have a visible or accurate game clock. When the match is over, it is not over. The referee indiscriminately awards more time and that is not accurate.
One really has to be a golf fan to watch golf on TV. A weekend hacker would jump up and down in joy if he or she could hit a shot that makes most of the pros grimace. The caddies are in good shape and may be the only guys and gals in the world who actually carry clubs on a golf course, besides high school and college golfers.
After watching hockey players spit out teeth, get stitches, fight and get slammed into Plexiglas and boards and continue skating, I can’t stand to watch basketball and soccer players fake pain and injury. Sissy is too weak of a term for them.
Hockey announcers have to talk quickly. Basketball announcers have to keep talking. Baseball announcers have to stay awake. Golf announcers have to know names and distances. Soccer announcers have to have an accent.
There may not be a better week for Ramona viewers to watch so many great sporting events on TV for a long time.