sports: March 2004 Archives

Generation Xed

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I wonder if anyone other than me has noticed that ESPN's Dream Job is beginning to look a lot like survival of the youngest? Again tonight I did a little back and forth between DJ and the Practice, figuring that I could catch one of the reruns if I wanted to see the whole thing. And I turned in to catch the cuts at 11.

A few weeks ago, when the show began, there were 12 contestants, ranging in age from 21 to 40. 7 candidates were aged 30 or older. Now the show is halfway through, having cut 6 candidates, all of whom, in an interesting coincidence, are aged 30 or older. Kelly, the one remaining candidate older than 28, is also the one who sounds like he's tried the hardest to develop the "reporter cadence" that every local news reporter abuses to the point of absurdity. You know the one: Look straight at the camera, try your hardest to appear dead earnest, and say the following, "If it sounds too good to be true..." (pause a half-second longer than necessary) " probably is." Makes my skin crawl, that does.

Anyhow. Whatever appeal Dream Job has (and this from someone who typically avoids reality programming like the plague it is), it's in the fantasy that "hey, I could do that," and I'm sure that our 12 finalists were not simply the twelve best--they were chosen as a means of tapping into that fantasy. And so it's been interesting to me, as a thirty-something, to watch each of the thirty-somethings on the show drop off one by one.

I can only think of two rationales. One is that the older a body, the more attuned and enculturated that person gets to the rhythms of his or her chosen profession, and the harder it becomes to adjust to a new one. Much like we lose our facility for learning languages very quickly (often by the time we begin "foreign language study" in most cases), perhaps these older finalists simply have trouble adjusting to what is certainly a profession. Perhaps we might argue that Kelly, as a lawyer, is the one of the 7 most attuned to adjusting his delivery depending on audience (although, truthfully, I expected Lori as someone who did marketing to be better than she was).

Okay, so that's one. Number two is a media-based argument. Fact of the matter is that I didn't grow up on ESPN. It's 25 this year, but that's a specious number, and more for the point of their "silver anniversary" nonsense than anything else. I grew up following baseball, football, and college basketball, but I didn't get exposed to ESPN until fairly late in my own personal "sports history." I remember when it was considered kind of cult to watch it, with Australian Rules Football and all. Except for Kelly and only barely Zach (who's 28), ESPN is in fact older than the rest of the contestants, and I wonder if there's a subtle difference, a little generation gap, between those who grew up with the network and those who didn't, between those who see shtick as an inherent part of the talking head honor code, and those who don't. You can tell the difference between the ones who host SportsCenter and the ones who entered the biz as writers. As a thirty-something (and a reader), I prefer the latter, but I don't begrudge the fact that this show is about finding someone who will do the former.

Ah well. Selection Sunday is almost over, and I've got to get back to work...

Spring is coming

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and a young man's thoughts turn to intricate dreams of bracketology.

Well, young-ish anyway. I missed my one chance this season to pelt Billy Packer in the back of the head with a pretzel, preferring instead to sleep in and watch SU's victory over UConn from the unshaven, unshowered comfort of my own little corner of the world. UConn continued to look like the LA Lakers of college b-ball, pretending to appear human thanks to Okafor's back. As tough as it's been for the Lake to "turn it on come playoff time," I've got to think that the Huskies are now prime upset-bait. Of course, every team I think that of inevitably does 2-3 rounds better than I end up predicting for them. So maybe UConn's going to the Final Four.

SU is not, despite looking pretty decent today and against Pitt last week. They have learned how to win ugly this year, which is better than losing pretty, but they're still a pretty streaky team. They could go anywhere from 4-6 (although a 4 seed would depend on a good Big East Tournament, I think) in their seeding, and I wouldn't bet against them making the Sweet 16, unless they get a really hot team in the opening regional. Teams don't get but 3-4 days to prepare for the Orangemen's long-armed, flex-spaced 2-3, and that can be pretty tough on a team. They've got weaknesses, but my guess is that it'll take a top 10 team to really exploit it (see Pitt's and UConn's first encounters this season, e.g.).

My picks? I think the whole "Road to Perfection" thing has screwed everyone up. Stanford, St. Joe's, Gonzaga have screwed up the rankings (and will screw up the seeds) by ripping off 18+ games in a row in crappy conferences. Give me the teams ranked one step below that, and my bracket will be pretty happy...



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This page is a archive of entries in the sports category from March 2004.

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