A Good Question

Paul Constant:

Look, we’ve established that I’m not a sports guy. But with the second sports scandal this month culminating in a shame-faced tell-all interview, I have to ask: Do sports fans really enjoy having these bullshit narratives slapped on top of their sporting events? Were Te’o’s games really more magical because you thought he had a dead girlfriend? Do you enjoy the Olympics more when you find out that the gymnast’s mom had cancer, or that the figure skater’s whole family was wiped out in a tragic car accident?

It all started with the Olympics, which to me have almost become unwatchable because of the overlay of sappy melodramatic backstory, but now it infects all sports coverage.






137 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    Here’s a little hint. Shit like this and “halftime” shows are NOT for sports people. Know what I’m sayin?

  2. 2
    raven says:

    And, for that matter, neither is figure skating or ice dancing.

  3. 3
    c u n d gulag says:

    Years ago, I could watch any and all sports, and love what I was watching.

    Now, when I watch sports, I either read a newspaper, or read great Liberal blogs like this one, so, when they get into stupid sappy stuff, or the endless commercials, I just read and comment.

    Sports in America today, is completely unwatchable, if you are sitting by yourself, and want to watch the game.

    Too many announcers opining, too feckin’ many commercials, and too many “personal interest” stories!

    JUST STFU, AND PLAY THE DAMN FECKIN’ GAME! ! !

  4. 4
    raven says:

    @c u n d gulag: Put the ball in the hole!

  5. 5
    Anonymous At Work says:

    No. It’s an attempt to bring in chicks. And to fill up time for broadcasts.

  6. 6
    Zam says:

    Narratives make baseball hilarious. Watch a game or listen to it on the radio, the announcers have so much free time to talk about random shit. It might start with “so and so had a really troubling off season with his fathers illness” but halfway through it just becomes little tidbits of useless information like how the pitcher likes to play world of warcraft on his off days or discussion of player tweets.

  7. 7
    Capri says:

    Even the sports-related part of sports narratives is bathetic hyperbole most of the time. Being able to win a game when your best player has tendonitis in his knee and your second best player is out with the flu is not OVERCOMING ADVERSITY, and if even with the second best player out your team is better than the other team, you did not win AGAINST THE ODDS. Winning against a team that beat you earlier in the season is not REDEMPTION.

    Don’t even get started on all the war analogies.

  8. 8
    JMG says:

    It’s like anything else. Sometimes these stories are interesting, sometimes (most of the time), they aren’t. For instance, the Te’o dead girlfriend story was not interesting. The Te’o imaginary dead girlfriend story is VERY interesting.

  9. 9
    raven says:

    @JMG: Shit, it’s beyond fucking stupid.

  10. 10
    kerFuFFler says:

    “… have almost become unwatchable because of the overlay of sappy melodramatic backstory…”

    What I’ve been saying for years…

    And it’s not just sports—–American Idol, ballet competitions, piano competitions, you-name-it, they are all infected with sappy backstories.

  11. 11
    Hoodie says:

    I doubt they would do it if it didn’t appeal to at least a sizable segment of the audience. Some fans live vicariously through the athletes, and the human interest stories may be a hook for that type of fan. However, some of it is likely driven by the careerism of the sportswriters and broadcasters, who can fashion themselves as journalists – or pundits – doing these types of stories. As useless as pundits are, there are a lot of people who tune them in and make them wealthy in the process.

  12. 12
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    What about the person who, became valedictorian even though his parents were poor? Or the scientist who keep on making discoveries even though he’s confined to a wheelchair?

    Sorry, as much as it’s painful to have those two examples, it’s still good to root for the person who starts out with some disadvantage and manages to overcome the odds. Every so often, you’re going to be taken in, but it’s either that, or you become complete cynical and blow off everyone to protect your ego.

    Remember, it’s their fault they were liars, not our fault for believing them.

  13. 13
    jibeaux says:

    I’m not very into sports or athlete’s stories, either one (most top notch athletes seem pretty damn boring to me, probably because they’ve spent their entire lives including a crazy amount of their childhood on their sport, but anyway), but I did just want to ask if anyone knows if FEMA will be helping out Dook today? I heard they were completely decimated by some hurricanes or something.

  14. 14
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Zam: and that’s the problem. No one wants to listen to crowd noise for three hours. There’s a dead minute between pitches. A pitch lasts three seconds. There’s only so many times the fan wants to hear about how great or not great the pitch was.

  15. 15
    barath says:

    I’m reminded of Chris Hedges’s book Empire of Illusion, and his argument that it’s the conversion of everything in society to a sort of illusion, including politics (and now sports), where the backstory is more important than reality.

  16. 16
    Baud says:

    I blame Lou Gehrig.

  17. 17
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    It all started with the Olympics, which to me have almost become unwatchable because of the overlay of sappy melodramatic backstory the almost exclusive focus on swimming, T&F, gymnastics, and diving, to the exclusion of almost everything else

    Fixed for London 2012

  18. 18
    Morbo says:

    I’m not sure professional wrestling would exist if people didn’t like bullshit narratives with their sports.

  19. 19
    Emma says:

    Sometimes if you’re lucky and have a big cable package you actually find a channel where the announcer keeps quiet. Unfortunately, if he had been speaking it would have been Finnish or Latvian or something.

  20. 20
    jibeaux says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Now stories of PARALYMPIANS are fucking awesome. I just love those.

  21. 21
    NonyNony says:

    @Hoodie:

    I doubt they would do it if it didn’t appeal to at least a sizable segment of the audience.

    I disagree. If they know that they have a captive audience (and my god, there appears to be no audience more captive than die-hard football fans in the USA), then so long as they show the game they know that they can do whatever the hell they want and they won’t lose those guys. So they try different things to drag in other people – people who are maybe kind of interested in the sport but not so interested that they’re willing to commit their Saturday/Sunday afternoons to sitting and watching games for hours on end for a few months.

    And I disagree that it started with the Olympics. It started with pro wrestling. Except that in pro wrestling the “backstories” and narratives were highly scripted and intentionally fictional. For the same reason – to drag in people who weren’t interested enough in watching two sweaty guys grapple with each other to watch it for a few hours, but WOULD watch it if you turned it into something dramatic where they “cared” about the people doing it.

    In the dystopian apocalypse that is the future, all sports are pro wrestling. And all players are expected to be competent soap opera actors as well as players.

  22. 22
    slightly_peeved says:

    @Capri:

    The definitive comment on war analogies in sport comes from Keith Miller, who played cricket for Australia, Australian Rules Football for St Kilda and flew fighter-bombers over Germany in WW2:
    sport:

    “Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse, playing cricket is not.”

  23. 23
    Yutsano says:

    @jibeaux: Heh. I like it when you’re pithy.

  24. 24
    NonyNony says:

    @Emma:

    Sometimes if you’re lucky and have a big cable package you actually find a channel where the announcer keeps quiet. Unfortunately, if he had been speaking it would have been Finnish or Latvian or something.

    Oh I have that package. I have to hit that button on my remote labelled “MUTE”, but it works great!

  25. 25
    Face says:

    I did just want to ask if anyone knows if FEMA will be helping out Dook today? I heard they were completely decimated by some hurricanes or something.

    Isn’t Burnsie a Dewky?

  26. 26
    Schlemizel says:

    @Zam:

    Gad, the guys that do the MN Twins on radio are unbelievable. You can here the game going on in the background, pitch hitting glove or bat hitting ball & crowd reaction. Meanwhile the announcers are “An Larry Hinkie had a great week in triple-A this week, he was 12 for 17 with 2 homers. He sorta reminds me of Al Boogarootoo back in the 70’s. Man, Al could hit the ball a ton! Never made it to the majors but I remember this one game in Vasalia, I think it was early June and the team had been on a 6 game losing streak . . . ” and on & on & on.

    Then, out of no where, “And Darren Young strikes out looking for the second out of the inning”

  27. 27
    TheStone says:

    As an ND fan, I am really looking forward to spring football and an entirely uneventful, while successful, 2013 season. No human interest stories or compelling personal narratives for this domer, please.

  28. 28
    Older_Wiser says:

    Well, I don’t watch sports or have any interest in fake war games and competition for $$$ and/or fame, so I don’t have to deal with that problem.

    Too bad education takes a backseat to this kind of boring circus. We worship the body and what we can push it to do, how it looks, rather than the brain and solving problems. And that’s a dead-end road.

  29. 29
    jibeaux says:

    @Face: Oh, yes. The Dook is strong with that one.

  30. 30
    Cassidy says:

    It all started with the Olympics

    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha….whoo…breathe, breathe….hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Seriously, this kind of shit was going on long before the Olympics. Hell somewhere, back in the bad ol’ days, there’s a cave painting of Gruhk winning something because of his dead father. People love a narrative and people love drama, because most people are casual fans.

    Perfect example, MMA. For me, I love a good 3 round back and forth grappling clinic with transitions and sub attempts, etc. Casual MMA fans hate that shit. They want to see a knockout. They don’t care about the technical skill on display and would rather root for the hick wrestler who figured out he can knock people out with an overhand right and doens’t need no fancy boxing or JJ skills. The casual fans eat up the pre-fight shit talking and all that garbage. Why? They love the narrative and the drama and have no appreciation for the mastery of the basics that are the foundation of the sport.

  31. 31
    JMG says:

    At the Olympics in the press centers, they have the perfect sports television setup. Every event is broadcast live on a bank of monitors. Of necessity, there are no announcers or sound whatsoever. It’s heaven if you’re a fan.
    Same goes for the Vegas sports books. With 100 things on, no announcers possible.

  32. 32
    LosGatosCA says:

    Sports are soap operas for men. That is all.

  33. 33
    Emma says:

    @NonyNony: Isn’t the same, though. You still know the idiot is explaining (for the fourteenth time) that the Roumanian gymnasts have a special algae treatment developed by their blah…blah….blah…

  34. 34
    Cassidy says:

    Too bad education takes a backseat to this kind of boring circus. We worship the body and what we can push it to do, how it looks, rather than the brain and solving problems.

    This is horseshit. You can’t exclude one for the other. It’s out of balance right now, and has been for a long time, but any expectation that we should value “smarts” over physicality is no different. The focus should be on both. You should be educating yourself and pushing your body to its limits. And then you go further the next day.

  35. 35
    WereBear says:

    @Morbo: Pro wrestling is opera for people who don’t like singing.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    jon says:

    I like watching sports, but rarely know much of anything about the athletes. I really don’t care about their lives, but I do enjoy video tributes to Michelle Jenneke and Tom Brady.

  38. 38
    Joey Giraud says:

    Went to a wedding recently. Forced to sit and watch two lengthy melodramatic video presentations about the lives of the just betrothed, complete with drippy music and an overwrought voice-over.

    Then at the reception, first the couple then all the maids and best men were introduced ala WWF, complete with fist pumps and loud cheers.

    No accounting for taste.

  39. 39
    Cassidy says:

    @WereBear: I grew up watching pro wrestling; to me it’s a childhood thing. That being said, if you ever get a chance to watch some of the documentaries on the behind the scenes stuff, it’s fascinating. I highly reccommend the one about the Road Warriors. The evolution of freestyle, Greco-Roman, and catch wrestling into modern pro wrestling is very interesting.

  40. 40
    Older_Wiser says:

    “It’s out of balance right now, and has been for a long time…”

    So, you state the problem but but offer no solutions. Typical.

  41. 41
    jon says:

    It all started with the Olympics

    Have you seen any of the Greek poetry, statuary, or even the pottery devoted to those guys? We know more about the oil put upon the athletes’ shaved bodies and how many slaves some guy schtupped after winning a footrace in 402 B.C. than we do about their capital gains tax rates or other, far more important things.

  42. 42
    Occasional Reader (okay, I'm here all the time) says:

    Sports has always been about the drama. It’s a way for the everyman to escape his mundane existence and access the feeling of being caught up in something truly epic, without getting killed or a bunch of people dying.

    The problem is the drama has started to shift from the play-by-play of the game and the flow of the season to off the field B.S. The Olympics are the worst example, but it’s creeping in everywhere. It’s like nothing is entertainment any more without some emotional backstory to it.

    The irony is that all this Oprah-fication is happening as networks basically suck all the drama out of the game itself by polluting the TV screen with ‘whooshing’ graphics that take all the fun out of following what’s happening. Last year when I saw one network experimenting with putting a drawn in strike zone on the screen during each pitch, I almost lost it. Whether a pitch is a ball or a strike, and how the ump is going to call it is one of the main sources of dramatic tension in baseball for FSM’s sake! It’s like the yellow line in football — stupid.

    No wonder the networks want to fill the void with the sports equivalent of an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition sob story.

  43. 43
    J.W. Hamner says:

    @Morbo:

    I’m not sure professional wrestling would exist if people didn’t like bullshit narratives with their sports.

    Wow, that’s a good point… it’s sports-like entertainment built around narratives… so much so that they took out the randomness of who is going to win (though the fan doesn’t know I guess). That business seems to be doing OK, so at least some people really dig narratives.

    I would also say that at least 90% of sports writing and sports talk radio is about narratives… like “The Ravens are a Team of Destiny giving Ray Lewis a ride off into the sunset” or “The Jim Harbaugh made the tough decision to change QBs mid season and now Caepernick is changing the face of quarterback play in the NFL”… and people seem to dig listening to and/or reading that stuff.

  44. 44
    Randy P says:

    The problem with sappy backstories for me re Olympics is that to me it says “this event already happened and we’re focusing on this person because we already know they have the gold”. So it’s an automatic spoiler. May not always be true but that was my perception. I am not interested in network coverage, period.

    This time I watched the all-event streams online. Some great drama in preliminaries of events I would never have seen on normal TV. But the sheer volume overwhelmed me. I started to see the value in having sportscasters pick highlights for you. I need to find a happy medium of some sort.

  45. 45
    Joshua says:

    You can try to blame the Olympics if you want, but I think we all know that professional wrestling did this sort of thing first and does it best.

  46. 46
    Schlemizel says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Thats funny because I sort of enjoyed the pace of baseball on a hot summer night.

    But one thing I have noticed that really does bug me is how loud they have turned up the crowd noise. A little in the background is good but sometimes its almost impossible to hear the announcers

  47. 47
    Ash Can says:

    Athletic competitions of any kind are purely human dramas, and backstories, when done right, can add depth and dimension to the participants and add to the drama. Those backstories will be overblown to the point of detracting from the athletics, however, in the cases of competitions being marketed to people who otherwise wouldn’t watch those sports (e.g., the Olympics, the Super Bowl, major college bowl games). In those cases, your only option is to avoid the news stories on the individual players and watch the game with the sound turned down.

  48. 48
    jon says:

    It doesn’t help that long ago, ESPN2 had to look to Australian Rules Football to fill hours. Now there’s more ESPNs than I can count, plus CBS Sports Networks, Big 12, Pac 12, NFL, NBA, MLB, I imagine there’s an NHL, NBC Sports, and FoxSports (Your Location Here) so even high school athletes can be scrutinized, even if they’re a small school volleyball player who may or may not go to a competitive Division II university as discussed by a panel of experts who will discuss her progress from an underwhelming sophomore year when it appeared that her 5’10” frame was awkward.

  49. 49
    Schlemizel says:

    @jibeaux:

    The sad story of how the guy had to overcome the ability to use all his limbs but still managed to make it in the paralympics?

    > <
    |

  50. 50
    Feudalism Now! says:

    Humans crave narrative and context. Sports are no different. If there is no story behind the action, we are left to invent it. Why do so many people hate the Yankees? Every story needs a villain. Even stats geeks have their own narratives to explain patterns. We crave for the world to make sense. There must be a reason. Even the most skeptical person still has to frame an argument. Sappy melodrama is just the easiest form of narrative.

  51. 51
    raven says:

    @Schlemizel: I took a fellow from the UK to a Braves game in ther 90’s. He enjoyed the game but listening to the recap on the drive home was really confusing for him. I’m sure it would be the same with me and a soccer recap but it was an eye opener.

  52. 52
    Ash says:

    If you say you don’t like drama in your sports you’re lying.

  53. 53
    Tokyokie says:

    @slightly_peeved: Pitching great Warren Spahn, who, during World War II, was a member of the engineering company that seized the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen and was one of the first Allied soldiers to cross the Rhine into Germany during the war, said something similar. Anyway, Spahnie, whose baseball career didn’t really take off until he returned from the war, said: “After what I went through overseas, I never thought of anything I was told to do in baseball as hard work. You get over feeling like that when you spend days on end sleeping in frozen tank tracks in enemy threatened territory.”

    Spahn fought at the Battle of the Bulge and received a Purple Heart and battlefield commission for his actions at Remagen (which, in a way, made him the first American officer to have entered Germany during the war). Yet when a youth-market biography about him made a big deal of his wartime exploits and falsely claimed that he received a Bronze Star, Spahn sued, claiming that he had been falsely portrayed as too heroic. (It’s the landmark case of Spahn v. Messner, which led to the “false light” tort theory.)

    I can’t imagine an athlete today suing because a media outlet’s back story made him look too good. But then, back in Spahnie’s day, we didn’t have an entire network devoted to creating bullshit narratives to make sports somehow more appealing. I have come to loathe ESPN, where the narratives (which are always tied to its vested commercial interests) are more important than the results. (I’m still waiting for an ESPN commentator to point out that Lou Holtz, whom the network presents as a kindly, grandfatherly éminence grise, cheated at virtually every college head-coaching job he ever held and was fired at Arkansas for making ads for racist scum Jesse Helms.) But I agree with others who say the wall-to-wall (and pretty much exclusively U.S.-focused) Olympics coverage is the root of this. I haven’t found the Olympics watchable since München.

  54. 54
    AnotherBruce says:

    In Seattle there are four sports radio stations, including the newest one that replaced the one progressive political station we used to have. Trust me there is about a 40% focus on discussing sports and 60% focus on drama. These guys (almost all guys) have to fill in a lot of radio space, and they do it by talking morality about sports figures like Lance Armstrong, T’eo and Tiger Woods. That is to say, they don’t talk all that much about sports.

  55. 55
    RobertB says:

    IMO, the 2012 Olympics actually turned the human-interest down a notch. There was still _way_ too much, especially on NBC during prime time, but it wasn’t as bad as it had been in the recent past.

    Also, the other networks like MSNBC and NBC Sports didn’t do a terrible job of remaining sports-focused vs. human-interest focused. It was still very US-oriented, but you could get the finals of pretty much anything if you were willing to dig through the channels.

  56. 56
    Schlemizel says:

    @Cassidy:

    I used to work for the same company as the shorter of the two Road Warriors. He was an interesting guy. Sat on a stool with his mouth hanging open, could hardly be roused to do any work. Communicated mostly in grunts with those of us that interacted with him. Really impressive.

  57. 57
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Hoodie: Let’s face it, Americans love gossip. Look at all the shows featuring women testing boatloads of men to determine the paternity of their children. Or Dr. Phil counseling people on national tv about their private bedroom issues. And even on the respectable channels like Discovery and TLC, you have reality shows like “Honey Boo Boo” and “Breaking Amish”.

    We love to get into people’s business.

  58. 58
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @raven: Raven is exactly right. People who are real fans of the sport and not the personalities in them don’t care much about the feel good stories.

    I am constantly surprised by how much is made over many of the “tragedies” that some/most/all of these sports stars deal with. Most people have had to deal with the death of a loved one, or their illness, or their disability in the course of their life. Even in their twenties or thirties. Yes, there are some stories that are particularly tragic or different from our own experiences, which says more about us than the sports star.

    For the most part sports fans care about the performance of the player on the field, and that he is not a criminal. Although the criminal part is not necessarily important if the player is particularly skilled and is a member of the fan’s team. It is easy to get all worked up about the douchebags who play on other teams [especially rivals] while overlooking those same faults/felonies of your team’s players.

  59. 59
    Robin G. says:

    I like human interest stories. What I don’t like is badly written, poorly presented human interest stories. This is the problem.

  60. 60
    Cassidy says:

    @Older_Wiser: I call this a solution:

    You should be educating yourself and pushing your body to its limits. And then you go further the next day.

    But, if you want to do the “no one appreciates my superior intellect” pity party, that’s cool.

    @Ash: I think it depends on the drama. A third round or ninth inning comeback is fun and exciting. Yeah, I love that kind of drama. I really don’t care that he grew up in a midwestern town and went to a midwestern university and did midwestern things his whole life and oh look a drug addict puppy! To me that takes away from the technical skill.

  61. 61
    YellowDog says:

    Back in the day, before there were 5 or 6 ESPN’s, ABC covered the Olympics (and offered Wide World of Sports on Saturday afternoon) and most of the on-air time was devoted to event coverage. That meant you could see entire competitions rather than just the likely medalists interspersed with “inspiring” coverage of their life stories. The same was true for football, baseball, hockey, and basketball. There might be a short, pre-game shows, but coverage started when the game started and focused on reporting the action. The announcers were typically sports reporters with a breadth of knowledge about sports generally. We didn’t learn all the intimate details of athletes’ lives on TV. That was why we read Sports Illustrated. Now, the need to sell commercial time means we have to sit through endless blather as ex-athletes repeat their cliches and platitudes, and repeat each others’ cliches and platitudes. I miss Wide World of Sports. Like each week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, it was an experience to be anticipated and savored. It was also an opportunity to learn about sports that otherwise were not covered in this country. When were you last time able to watch Hurling, except after midnight on ESPN 3? Information is good, but I want to see the action–the thrill of competition, and the agony of defeat.

  62. 62
    Raven says:

    @Tokyokie: Michael Boorda, Chief of Naval Operation killed himself when it was learned that he was wearing a bronze star with a “V” device that was not earned. People take that shit seriously.

  63. 63
    Cassidy says:

    It is easy to get all worked up about the douchebags who play on other teams [especially rivals] while overlooking those same faults/felonies of your team’s players.

    Ahem…Steelers fans calling Ray Lewis a murderer…cough, cough.

    @Schlemizel: Might be different people. One is dead and the other came across as fairly intelligent, if not very well educated, in the documentary.

  64. 64
    Highway Rob says:

    I’m surprised this hasn’t made an appearance yet:

  65. 65
    Anya says:

    Bullshit narratives contaminates everything, not just sports. I hate the teary interviews of actors and singers. I don’t want someone to come out or tell me about their childhood abuse or their illness. Act, sing and keep everything else to yourself.

  66. 66
    mo says:

    Also, because it’s cheap. I remember the pre-boycott Olympic broadcasts. I loved them. The “Up Close and Personal” segments took you around the world. The Finnish shotputter who was also a baker. You saw his bakery, saw his house and his kids bedrooms. It was a real window into how the rest of the world lived. After the Reaganfest USA! USA! Los Angeles Olympics, that was lost.

    I think it also serves to hide the fact that most atheletes come from incredibly privilidged backgrounds. So coverage focus on the sister with cancer, not the mansion, the stay at home mom shuttling the kid around for five figures worth of training every year. Also, according to a cameraman friend who shot lots of figure skater interviews, they are very boring people – personality of a shoe was the phrase I remember. They’ve spent 6-8 hours a day in an ice rink since they were 6 or 7, the least schooling they can get away with, and multiple adults obsessed with them. So Dad being killed in a car crash is what they go with.

    You can really see it in The Voice. I watched the first season, some sob story, but not seen as neccessary. The finale had two out lesbians, great singers both but neither fit the normal beauty mold. The winner was a skinny older black guy. From what I caught this year, it was all very pretty kids whose families were giving up everything to make them a star. It double-sucked on this show because the eliminations go so fast. It just became super boring. And they are having to “mix it up” because the ratings are down. Guys – give us out lesbians who’ve been singing for decades in Florida dive bars – we love it!

  67. 67
    Todd says:

    OT – but the European austerity measures are clearly having their desired effect in terms of spreading about shared sacrifice among those who aren’t 1%ers.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01.....?hpt=hp_t1

    Spain’s unemployment rate has climbed to its highest level ever, the Spanish government said Thursday, as a painful recession takes a toll on the debt-stricken nation. The latest official figures show 26.02% of the population without jobs in the last quarter of 2012, with just over 55% of those aged 16 to 24 unemployed.

    Successive rounds of austerity measures have prompted angry public protests on Spain’s streets.

    Conservatism can now claim another great success.

  68. 68
    Raven says:

    @mo:” most atheletes come from incredibly privilidged backgrounds.”

    Yea, you know what you are talking about.

  69. 69
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @Zam: Yes, since nothing much ever happens in a baseball game, there is plenty of time to discuss fishing trips, vacations, humourous family anecdotes, the weather,……and more lately the background stories of various players. Once in awhile they would even throw in the odd baseball story too.

    As a Tigers fan I listened to Ernie Harwell [radio] and George Kell [TV] for what seemed forever. They could while away a three and a half hour game quite easily, even working in about an hour or so of actual play by play and baseball related discussion.

  70. 70
    Summer says:

    It may be that the Olympics didn’t start the bathetic coverage, but I do remember the abrupt ramping up of human interest stories in CBS’s 1994 coverage. Charles Kuralt, etc. It seemed as if that was the year that American networks started covering Americans almost exclusively, which tied sports and nationalism together in these narratives. Maybe it wasn’t new, but it was new to me.

    The best Olympic coverage I saw was when we were living in Turkey. We couldn’t understand the announcer and they seemed to have parked the camera in some corner of whatever location the event was being held and just let ‘er roll. Sometimes, fascinated, we’d watch an empty room after the event was over, wondering when the camera would go off.

    It was fun to pick our own heroes.

  71. 71
    handsmile says:

    The example of Pat Tillman would seem to offer some illumination on the issues of employing sportsmen’s biographies to manipulate emotional appeal.

  72. 72
    Cassidy says:

    @Raven: I understand s/he is talking about Olympic Sports, while still not entirely accurate, it is for the ones that are showcased regularly.

  73. 73
    GregB says:

    The only reason I came to Balloon Juice was the narrative about a poor Scrooge like bitter, angry wingnut man who was visited by three liberal ghosts one night and awoke the next morning a changed man with a love for humanity and furry animals.

  74. 74
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cassidy: Mens sana in corpore sano. It is not a new idea.

  75. 75
    Shalimar says:

    I don’t normally care about all the backstory, and it doesn’t make any difference to my enjoyment of sports. That said, I have cared about Lance Armstrong’s story for years because it was so obvious that he was lying and because he went to such lengths to destroy everyone who stated the obvious. In a profession filled with narcissistic assholes, Armstrong still managed to stand out.

    As for Te’o, I didn’t care about the dead girlfriend when she seemed real and wouldn’t have cared even if he was on a team I watched. I was riveted for a few days when the revelations came out, but only because I was hoping that he was covering up being gay and would be forced to come out of the closet, which might be painful for him but would be good for the country. It looks like that isn’t what happened, so I’m not even going to watch whatever he said to Katie Couric.

  76. 76
    Helmut Monotreme says:

    I don’t mind enough back story to put a little perspective on the game in progress. If the Braves are having a tough season and this pitcher’s been fighting injury all year, that’s good to know. But focus on back story at the expense of action on the field is stupid. Soap operas already exist, and if that is what fans wanted, that’s what they would watch.

    The Olympics is the worst. for the 1998 winter Olympics I was couch-ridden for the week because of unemployment and a ski related knee injury. So I was watching the women’s alpine downhill. Great athletes, attractive women cheating death at 80 miles an hour down a technical exciting course. It was practically NASCAR on ice, what I’m trying to say is, it was great television. And of course they cut away right in the middle of the event so they could show figure skaters practicing. It was an infuriatingly perfect example of why NBC Olympic coverage sucks.

  77. 77
    red dog says:

    @YellowDog: Old sports dog to old sports dog. I agree totally. As a kid, my grandfather gave me a subscription to Sports Illustrated from its very 1st issue which I read so many times it wore out. Now I record football games and speed thru them. I cannot bear to watch any other “sport”.

  78. 78
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Do sports fans really enjoy having these bullshit narratives slapped on top of their sporting events?

    Nope, and you’re dead to rights blaming the Olympics, or to be more precise, television coverage of the Olympics.

  79. 79
    Bill says:

    “Do sports fans really enjoy having these bullshit narratives slapped on top of their sporting events?”

    I love sports, and my answer to this question is a resounding no. I’ve trained myself to tune most of it out. I actually didn’t realize that Teo had a dead girlfriend (despite watching a number of ND games this year), until it was revealed his dead girlfriend was fake. For me the key to ignoring these stories is to not watch any out of game coverage. No Sports Center, no pre-game shows etc…

    I will confess that I’m facinated by the Teo story after trhe fact though. It’s one of the strangest sports related stories I’ve ever seen.

  80. 80
    bin Lurkin' says:

    @Cassidy:

    @Cassidy: You should be educating yourself and pushing your body to its limits. And then you go further the next day.

    Push your body to its limits often enough and you’ll break it, I know plenty of people with permanent injuries they have gotten playing sports, some of those injuries disabling.

    If we had single payer coverage it might be different but I gave up on really strenuous exercise a long time ago, far too high a chance of breaking something serious and then having to navigate our thoroughly borked health care delivery system.

    Even relatively minor injuries can cost tens of thousands of dollars these days, the risk isn’t worth the reward, IMO.

  81. 81
    Older_Wiser says:

    @Cassidy: You make an assumption that I think I have a “superior intellect”. At the age of 72 I am still learning (I consider education to be a lifelong process) and I am still physically active, raising a 3 yr old (it doesn’t always have to be sports) to be independent, and I engage with him in play and stretching himself physically, but I also want him to be well-educated and able to think analytically.

    We all have opinions, but it is what we actually wind up doing that counts and has a direct impact on people’s lives.

  82. 82
    Raven says:

    @Cassidy: She should say that then.

  83. 83

    I have to ask: Do sports fans really enjoy having these bullshit narratives slapped on top of their sporting events?

    No.

  84. 84
  85. 85
    Cassidy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I know. I just think that people get so caught up in their particular attributes not being appreciated that they refuse to look past that and do continual self-improvement. I don’t see it as something to be bitter about. You can be smart and athletic and it takes a little dedication and hard work. That’s a much better use of the energy, IMO.

    @red dog: So, uh, how’s that onion doing?

  86. 86
    YellowDog says:

    @red dog:

    Growing up, I watched football games (Skol Vikings!) with the sound off and listened to the radio broadcast. Even today, radio announcers paint a more vivid image of the game. Living away from my home team was hard, because I couldn’t listen to the radio broadcast. But, I have been a Sirius subscriber since they started broadcasting NFL games. I listen to the radio broadcasts even when a game is televised locally. Paul Allen (the voice of the Vikings) runs rings around that legacy hire Joe Buck.

  87. 87
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Two words:

    Roone Arledge.

    Four words:

    Up close and personal.

    There you go.

  88. 88
    Cassidy says:

    @bin Lurkin’: Pushing yourself to the limits and then jumping over them while simultaneously setting yourself on fire are completely different things. You gotta be smart about it.

    @Older_Wiser: So what was the point of your response? Nevermind. I don’t care.

  89. 89
    SFAW says:

    @mo:

    The Finnish shotputter sculler who was also a baker fireman.

    Much more interesting. Well, the athlete, at least. Story’s not bad either, but …

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Mens sana in corpore sano.

    Isn’t that MGM’s motto? Or was that arma virumque cano? I can never remember. You lawyer types with your Latin.

  90. 90
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Certified Mutant Enemy:

    Sports fans, perhaps. But the idea is to attract non-sports fans (that is, the wife) to watch the program.

    That seems to be the thinking behind all the backstory stuff that seems at times to overwhelm the actual competition. Olympic track and field paves the way…especially the sprints, that are over just.like.that. 10 seconds with the 100 meters, and we’re done!

  91. 91
    SatanicPanic says:

    @LosGatosCA:

    Sports are soap operas for men. That is all.

    This. Doesn’t make it bad though. I read the occasional sports bio because how a team or player did what they did can be interesting. I prefer it real, but JMG pointed out upthread- the Manti Te’o story is pretty interesting now that we know it’s fake.

  92. 92
    NorthLeft12 says:

    If you watch Soccer [real football] from Europe, there is hardly any talk of backstories during the game, because there are very few breaks in the action. Now I am sure some people [like my brother] would demand action to be put in quotes in relation to Soccer, but there is really no time to go on about a player’s back story during the game.

    For those of you who watch the pre, post and mid game break talking heads,……..well, your exposure to that pap is completely self inflicted.

  93. 93
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Once the Olympics starts we’re supposed to root for people playing sports that no one actually follows, so it makes sense they want to introduce those athletes to us. We forget about the level of saturation we get in some of the other sports. As a San Diegan, I got used to seeing Junior Seau everywhere to the extent that I was actually depressed when he killed himself, but truth be told I have watched football so rarely that don’t think I’ve ever actually seen him play a game.

  94. 94
    Suffern ACE says:

    @SatanicPanic: yeah. Once it became a lie, I started caring about what happened. I’m glad his girlfriend isn’t dead, but I hope they break up, since he appears to be a bit of truth problem and didn’t go to the hospital, while she’s involved with drug dealers in ways which don’t end well for living people, let alone made of characters in stories.

  95. 95
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Joshua:

    Yeah, and it’s so bad that even the backstories are pure fiction. All the nonsense going on around the ring is staged, a narrative is created.

    Real life is boring. We have to spice it up to make it good teebee.

  96. 96
    drew42 says:

    but now it infects all sports coverage.

    What do you mean, “now”? Sports reporters have always slapped melodramatic story lines all over everything. It’s why I only watch the games themselves, never the reporting or analysis. Often, I’ll even watch the games on mute because I can’t stand the BS coming from the commentators.

    When ESPN launched, critics said a 24-hour sports network would never work, because you couldn’t fill all that time with scores and highlights. And they were right — ESPN became successful by creating stories and blowing up every minor off-season or locker room conflict, over-analyzing comments, and creating drama.

    Hell, the reason the WWF/WWE got so huge is because they saw the limitations of real sports drama. Often, the outcome of the game can ruin a good story (for example, in 1998 when the lousy Giants beat the undefeated Broncos, a week before their season-ending (sorry, second-to-last game) showdown against Miami — so many ruined stories about the ’72 Dolphins!) With professional wrestling, that’s never a problem, because the “sports” part is completely in service of the drama, not the other way around.

  97. 97
    SFAW says:

    @drew42:

    for example, in 1998 2008 when the lousy Giants beat the undefeated and heavily favored Broncos Patriots in the Super Bowl,

    Fixed, to remind Pats fans of their former “glory.”

  98. 98
    drew42 says:

    @SFAW: Yeah, but that was actually a great story, so it doesn’t apply to my point.

  99. 99
    flukebucket says:

    I despise human interest shit. I remember back when you could not watch a Georgia Bulldog football game without hearing about and watching his wife pouring the god damn gatorade on the sidelines.

    I mute all ball games. The constant chatter just screws up the entire experience for me. I would love to have a channel with no play by play guys in the booth. Just to be able to hear the crowd would be good enough for me.

  100. 100
    handsmile says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    That’s a shrewd observation: the structure and pace of football/soccer does limit the hawking of human interest fables during the on-field action.

    But let me also add that for the broadcasts of the US national football/soccer teams, I’m grateful that I can usually find a Spanish-language channel to watch the match.

  101. 101
    drew42 says:

    @flukebucket: I’ve wished for this many times, as well. Think about it — full crowd noise in 7.1 surround, catching snippets of coaches and players yelling from the sidelines. And no Brent Musburger or Dick Vitale assaulting your ears. That would be awesome.

  102. 102
    SFAW says:

    @drew42:

    but that was actually a great story

    Which, the Pats, or the Broncs?

  103. 103
    Robin G. says:

    @GregB:

    The only reason I came to Balloon Juice was the narrative about a poor Scrooge like bitter, angry wingnut man who was visited by three liberal ghosts one night and awoke the next morning a changed man with a love for humanity and furry animals.

    Best summary ever.

  104. 104
    drew42 says:

    @SFAW: @SFAW: Beating the Pats was a great story.

    My original point was, Giants beating the Broncos ruined a “great” story that was building up, where Miami was supposed to be the last chance for a good team to beat the Broncos that season. Preparations were being made for members of the ’72 Dolpins to appear on the sidelines, champagne bottles in hand, etc.

  105. 105
    catclub says:

    @Raven: I think for most sports in the Olympics this is very true.
    Very popular sports: football, baseball, soccer, cricket(?), track and field,
    not as much, since community resources can back a talented kid, and teams.

    but swimming, tennis, ice skating, sailing, dressage,
    fencing, archery, shooting, downhill skiing, luge, bobsled,
    gymnastics, all require immense parental resources to get one’s kid in the top brackets.

    Curling, biathlon, triathlon, adults who do not need full time jobs.

    What have I missed? They do frequently pick out the few that are atypical of the sport to showcase.

  106. 106
    SFAW says:

    @drew42:

    I understood the Broncs pseudo-back-story thing, just wasn’t sure if that’s what you found interesting. Thanks for clarificationizing.

  107. 107
    flukebucket says:

    @drew42: Absolutely. I would actually pay extra for such a channel. To be able to hear a little of the smack talk players throw back and forth at one another. To hear the pads popping when the ball is snapped. The grunting and the groaning of the players as they try to get the upper hand on their opponent. I have no interest in hearing Brent Musberger yammer on about the wife or girlfriend of one of the players.

  108. 108
    catclub says:

    @SFAW: “arma virumque cano”

    Watch out, the dog has a gun?

  109. 109
    SFAW says:

    @flukebucket:

    To be able to hear a little of the smack talk players throw back and forth at one another.

    Yeah, it woulda been interesting to hear what Materazzi said to Zizou. And the ensuing coconut (or whatever) sound would also have been neat.

  110. 110
    SFAW says:

    @catclub:

    Watch out, the dog has a gun?

    Not quite, but it works for me.

    Also: something Cole has to watch out for, the first time he mistreats Lily.

  111. 111
    Elie says:

    Everything has been made into a “reality show”. Everything. From politics to sports, each person involved gets their 15 minutes of fame — whether its worthy of fame or not. False importance and emphasis on the trivial is a key part. Its the result of marketing strategy and is frequently linked with “softening up” the public to be more susceptible to “reality show”-like formats that come linked with products. Its all about marketing and its to keep us hooked and open to incoming marketing messages — They can’t have us stop for a minute to ask : “why is this bullshit important to me? If they let you do that, you will turn off their product marketing and the sense that you NEED to hear what they are saying…

  112. 112
    Robin G. says:

    I really want to re-emphasize that I think the REAL problem here is lousy execution. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with discussing human interest stuff, even during broadcasts. (For example, I loved the 2006 stories about Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer sharing a house on their way to respective MVP and batting titles. Seriously funny stuff.) I love the game, but I also develop more investment in individual players if I know more about them, and that contributes to my enjoyment.

    The problem is that so many announcers and networks and broadcasts are hamfisted about it. They push the sob stories to the detriment of the game itself. They forget to tell us what’s going on on the field because they’re so busy talking about other things. (Sometimes this is good, however, if it distracts said announcers from constantly jinxing perfect games. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, BERT BLYLEVEN.) And if the human interest stuff doesn’t have any connection to the game — for instance, I think it’s nice to know if one of the players’ wives just had a baby, because sleeplessness and adrenaline can explain why maybe he’s not hitting the strike zone as well as he should, but it doesn’t really matter that much if his little brother just opened a car business — it gets irritating in a hurry.

    It’s also worth nothing that the simple skill of presentation is a part of it. Some announcers are just plain irritating (hi, Joe Buck!) and listening to them is a chore. Whereas I’d listen to Vin Scully read the phone book.

    And don’t get me started on the Olympics.

    So, yeah. Maybe some improvement in the human interest approach would lessen the desire to eliminate it.

  113. 113
    catclub says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: “Two words:

    Roone Arledge.

    Four words:

    Up close and personal.

    There you go. ”

    Pundits, three words:
    “It’s out there”
    Baseball announcer:
    “It’s outta there!”
    Garrison Keillor:
    “No matter where you go, there you are”

  114. 114
    SFAW says:

    @catclub:

    “No matter where you go, there you are”

    I thought that was Buckaroo Banzai.

  115. 115
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Suffern ACE: That Deadspin story was awesome. Very entertaining read. Wouldn’t have ever known or cared about the guy otherwise.

  116. 116
    flukebucket says:

    @SFAW:

    And the ensuing coconut (or whatever) sound would also have been neat.

    I figure that sound would have been more like a car hitting a dog. A thump or a thud.

  117. 117
    Seanly says:

    The Te’o story is bizarre. I buy into the dead girlfriend better than a live boyfriend take. Part of the interest is that it makes the haliographic media look stupid which they deserve. Maybe next time they won’t take whatever BS is served up to them at face value.

    Related topic, but sports coverage sucks. In grad school @ Clemson, a buddy was from Trinidad. He couldn’t stand watching US sports coverage. He couldn’t stomach the useless blather of the constant color commentary. He had a point about them not wanting there to be any silence from the booth.

    Another pet peeve is that in lots of NCAA games the coverage seem to root for the favored team. There’s always outright hacks like Duke fanboi Dick Vitale and a host of atrocious bigname color guys in college football, but now it just seems to be accepted behavior. I try to watch as much Clemson football as I can on TV. When I was still living in SC, I got so frustrated with the terrible ESPN or other semi-national broadcasts that I tried muting the game & listening to the Clemson radio network (definitely partisan, but better game coverage). Unfortunately, the differences in the HD & radio delays made that untenable.

  118. 118
    Brachiator says:

    It all started with the Olympics, which to me have almost become unwatchable because of the overlay of sappy melodramatic backstory, but now it infects all sports coverage.

    No, it’s always been part of sports, especially the manufactured stories about “what a great guy” any particular athlete is off the field.

    This is the nonsense that’s crept into politics with the inane idea of determining which candidate you’d most like to have a beer with.

    And if you want to talk about “sappy melodramatic backstory,” wouldn’t the ultimate be that wonderfully weepy buddy film, 1971’s Brian’s Song?

    @flukebucket:

    I mute all ball games. The constant chatter just screws up the entire experience for me. I would love to have a channel with no play by play guys in the booth. Just to be able to hear the crowd would be good enough for me.

    Sports TV is still radio with pictures. The fear is that you will change the channel if you are not deluged with an endless stream of chatter.

  119. 119
    gex says:

    They use what sells. Meaning they tap into parts of our brain we don’t have full control of. There’s a reason why the news and sports have all been TMZed. Everyone knows that TMZ, People, ET, etc. is just shit. They will say so as they keep checking in on those things. There’s an evolved social utility to gossip that is being exploited.

    ETA: In essence, no one likes it. But since it works on the fringes and it doesn’t drive the audience away, it is here to stay.

  120. 120
    Joel says:

    Instead of human interest stories, they should have the athletes reading their favorite poems.

  121. 121
    different-church-lady says:

    Do sports fans really enjoy having these bullshit narratives slapped on top of their sporting events?

    Short answer: no.

    Long answer: noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. But reporters sure do.

    Also keep in mind it only infects American Olympic coverage.

    Roone Arledge did a lot of great stuff for sports coverage, but “Up Close and Personal” is an ugly blot on his record. I remember when I was a kid I read about it in TV guide before it happened, and I thought, “That’s the suckiest thing I’ve ever heard of. I don’t want to see that, I just want to see the skiing!”

  122. 122
    SFAW says:

    @Joel:

    they should have the athletes reading their favorite poems

    I’m hoping to see/hear Tyrone Green recite “Images”

  123. 123
    different-church-lady says:

    @Brachiator:

    No, it’s always been part of sports, especially the manufactured stories about “what a great guy” any particular athlete is off the field.

    True, it’s always been a part of sports journalism, but before “Up Close and Personal” it took place tangentially to the actual coverage of the event. You had football games and “you are there” coverage of them, and then you had sports writers.

    “Up Close and Personal” was when the tangential stuff started replacing coverage of the actual event. And it only happens when viewers are willing to accept time-shifting of the actual even coverage (which means the Olympics are particularly susceptible). It creeps into team sports through split screens and inserts, where you get the dumb pre-game interviews during the action, but they can only do so much of that crap before viewers rebel.

    So, yeah, maybe mistermix has mushed two related phenomena into one, but they’re both legit phenomena.

  124. 124
    Tom_23 says:

    @AnotherBruce:
    +1

    Interesting article from SBNation about how broadcasters produce a game. This happens to star Troy Aikman and Joe Buck. Look at the prep and the execution (with assistants).
    http://www.sbnation.com/longfo.....n-joe-buck

  125. 125
    Ninedragonspot says:

    IMO, Woody Allen had the best take on this. But then again, I’m not a sports fan…

  126. 126
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @raven: And, for that matter, neither is figure skating or ice dancing.

    True enough, figure skating is a million times more awesome than most other sports.

  127. 127
    Brachiator says:

    @different-church-lady:

    “Up Close and Personal” was when the tangential stuff started replacing coverage of the actual event. And it only happens when viewers are willing to accept time-shifting of the actual even coverage (which means the Olympics are particularly susceptible).

    Yeah. But the “up close and personal” stuff was also designed to bring more viewers, especially female viewers, to the Olympics. And it has worked, and has become even more insistent because the broadcast rights are so damn expensive.

    And yeah, time shifting influences these decisions, but the Olympics coverage also has this as part of the dumbing down of the event, making it all about the Americans and a few selected foreign competitors and, most perversely, the expensive NBC announcers whose presence has to be justified (particularly the non-sports morans imported from the Today Show, etc.).

    Sadly, this crap has escalated for the most basic of reasons. The Olympics is still a big deal, but regular off season coverage of track and field and other sports is nonexistant on broadcast and even most cable TV. Newspaper coverage of these events has also declined tremendously. Hell, I used to attend some of the formerly famous college track meets in Southern Cal.

    So, nobody knows squat about the records or the best athletes going into the Olympics. So what you are left with are human interest stories and “America, Fuck Yeah!”

  128. 128
    Fair Economist says:

    The narratives are to get people interested in the outcome. So a bunch of people I don’t know are playing a game I don’t play against a bunch of other people I don’t know.
    Who cares? The narratives are to create the false familiarity we have with celebrities so we’re interested in who’s dating who – or who’s winning a game – like we would with people we actually know. The technique works anywhere but it gets special traction in America because of the isolation created by car society. People are desperate for interaction and so they soak up and obsess over these maudlin backstories.

  129. 129
    Bill Murray says:

    @Tokyokie: to be most accurate, Spahn was a member of the engineering battalion that was maintaining traffic flow when the Ludendorff bridge fell down and he had just left the bridge area when the bridge fell.

    http://www.baseballinwartime.c.....warren.htm

    Ralph Houk was the baseball player that helped capture the bridge

    http://www.baseballinwartime.c....._ralph.htm

  130. 130
    Jerzy Russian says:

    @raven:

    And, for that matter, neither is figure skating or ice dancing.

    You have to admit, some of those guys are in pretty good shape. I for one could not hoist my wife over my head, and she is a very petite woman.

  131. 131
    different-church-lady says:

    Yeah. But the “up close and personal” stuff was also designed to bring more viewers, especially female viewers, to the Olympics. And it has worked, and has become even more insistent because the broadcast rights are so damn expensive.

    Good point, but keep in mind the question posed was, “Do sports fans care about this stuff?”

    In America, the Olympics is no longer a sporting event — it’s a television event.

  132. 132
    Brachiator says:

    @Jerzy Russian:

    You have to admit, some of those guys are in pretty good shape. I for one could not hoist my wife over my head, and she is a very petite woman.

    There’s always the Finnish Wife Carrying Championships.

    Should be an Olympics Sport.

  133. 133
    Heliopause says:

    It all started with the Olympics, which to me have almost become unwatchable because of the overlay of sappy melodramatic backstory, but now it infects all sports coverage.

    I personally ignore it as much as possible and don’t generally pick up on these types of stories unless it’s woven into the in-game commentary (which seems to be happening more and more, e.g. Miss Alabama). My speculation is that this material is introduced as a way of drawing in more marginal sports fans.

  134. 134
    Tokyokie says:

    @Raven: I remember that, but in Spahn’s case, he never seemed to make a big deal out of his wartime service because he didn’t seem to think he’d done anything extraordinary, that he’d just done his duty, same as thousands of others. And frankly, I think it made him extraordinary.
    I remember looking at some old Life magazine photos of the mid-’50s Braves, and there were a few of Spahn with his family, but in those, he always seems to be on the periphery, not interacting with them. The photos in which he seems at ease are those with his teammates. And I always thought that those photos indicated that Spahn was not dissimilar to post-WWII actors like Lee Marvin, guys who came back from the war not so traumatized that they couldn’t function, but affected enough to care only about what they considered to be important and not give a crap about everything else.

  135. 135
    Brachiator says:

    @different-church-lady:

    In America, the Olympics is no longer a sporting event — it’s a television event.

    That boat sailed a long time ago, unfortunately. And since the sporting events leading up to the Olympics are hard to find for any but the most dedicated sports fan, yeah, the Olympics is just a TV spectacular, kinda like the New Years Eve stuff.

  136. 136
    Wally Ballou says:

    @Bill Murray: Future broadcaster Jack (Father of Joe) Buck was also at Remagen and received a Purple Heart for shrapnel injuries received there.

  137. 137
    stinger says:

    @Occasional Reader (okay, I’m here all the time): “It’s like nothing is entertainment any more without some emotional backstory to it.”

    That’s my complaint, to an even bigger degree, about “news” these days. The “5 W’s and an H” of news reporting has become Who, What, Where, When, Why, and HowdiditmakeyouFEEL?

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