I take my sports fandom much too seriously. There are more important matters on which to invest my mental energy. It’s true, still . . . I entered this new year burdened with the realization that the three sports teams that I care about most — the University of North Carolina football and men’s basketball teams and the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League — all lost games this holiday weekend. This is not the way I would have chosen for this new year to start.
Losing games is not the worst of it for those of us who try to watch these contests on television. I can’t count the ways that the commentators assigned to cover these games annoy me. One network covering NFL games has employed as an analyst Charles Davis, a former football player at the University of Tennessee, who was not drafted by the NFL. Davis did audition for the Dallas Cowboys but failed to make the team, so he went into broadcasting, where he apparently believes that he should be paid by the word. Trying to watch a game with this motormouth in the booth is an exercise in frustration.
He’s not alone in his skill at bothering viewers. Can anyone explain why these guys insist on chatting with each other at length about any subject that lurches into their shallow minds? Any subject is fair game so long as it has absolutely nothing to do with the game they are being paid to cover. Our television screen can show an injured player or a referee explaining a penalty, or a fight breaks out, and of course we want to learn the details, but our commentators prefer to yammer on about something totally unrelated to the action on the field.
And massacre English grammar in the process. Let’s not overlook that unwelcome gift to sports fans. Have these professional communicators ever been introduced to the object of a preposition? Do they understand that athleticism is not a word but a monstrosity invented by members of their own fraternity in their clumsy efforts to express the concept of athletic ability? No.
But still we watch and hope that “our” teams will win more than they lose. If that happens, we might even be able to make it to spring training without throwing something at the television.