The most powerful entity in sports is at once beautiful and maddening.
Last night, I did something that I knew I would hate myself for in the morning.
I watched "SportsCenter."
Don't get me wrong, I love "SportsCenter." But I don't think it loves me back.
It seems like in the past, it was really about highlights, and about showing you the storyline and important plays from every game.
But now, we have to sit through the Budweiser/Hot Seat Question Time flavored by Coca Cola brought to you by Geico with ESPN.com and ESPN the magazine's analyst Buster Olney.
The show is now such a cacophony of graphics and sounds and sponsored segments that games are given as much treatment as Paris Hilton gives a book with no pictures. And lately they have been running these interminable "TitleTown" segments in which they take us to some burg somewhere and tell us why it deserves the nickname TitleTown.
Honestly, could there be a more blatant pandering? Did they hire Hillary Clinton as a consultant?
I suppose it would just be too much to ask to get some more actual scores?
And it's not as if this corporate harlotry stops at "SportsCenter." Try listening to ESPN radio. Every segment is brought to you by Progressive and you can e-mail the hosts at their RadioShack inbox.
Any moment not filled with sponsor logos painted over a computer sound effect while introducing some other ESPN platform plug is filled instead with stupid anchor catchphrases.
Does anyone else remember when Chris Berman was actually funny? Or when "Boo-yah" was actually a cool phrase? I do. It was 1993.
And now each anchor has to come up with his own version of "Sweet sassy molassy!"
ESPN was once a funny sports observer, now it is a trite, forced overlord. ESPN now controls so much of the sports world that no one dare cross it. Like the eye of Sauron, it sees all and thirsts with a desire for total domination.
At times, some have risen up to fight it. CNN tried first. Then Fox went regional, and tried to battle it with local sportscasts. But these foes were vanquished quicker than Stuart Scott busts out old-school hip-hop as a substitute for wit.
ESPN tells us who the Heisman contenders are, tells us who the MVP should be, and tells us what teams are the best. ESPN tells us that the Yankees-Red Sox is the biggest sports rivalry in the country, that Ohio State belongs in the national championship game (looking at you, Herbstreit), and that the Patriots could not be beaten.
It gives us former players and calls them "analysts" despite the fact that many of them have trouble stringing four words together. It gives us the World Series of Poker and the Spelling Bee and calls them sports. It gives us Scott van Pelt and Pam Ward. It gives us the WNBA on TV.
ESPN tells us what the controversies, inspirations and heartwarming stories of victory are.
And nothing can challenge it. Especially not me.
Tonight, I will sit down on the couch, pick up the remote, and flip over to "SportsCenter."
And I will hate myself in the morning.
Beauregard Daily News