What? That’s on ESPN?


I love sports. College sports in general. University of Alabama sports in particular. It’s great to have a variety of different channels which specialize in showing sports. I can choose from ESPN, ESPN Classic, ESPNU, ESPN News, Fox Sports and various other channels that show various sports at times. At some point, I’ve watched some of just about everything. Just in the last couple of weeks I’ve watched basketball, baseball, lacrosse, rugby, and boxing (I hate UFC), among others. Sports is usually what I turn the TV to when I wake up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. Just this morning I woke up craving chocolate at about 2 a.m. or so. After my trip to the kitchen, I picked up the remote and went straight for ESPN HD. I don’t remember what was on but it was something that didn’t exactly pique my interest. So, I hit the channel down button one time to ESPN2 and there it was. Poker.

It amazes me that on any given evening as I channel surf I might come across as many as five different channels showing a card game. First of all, I understand that for some reason that is beyond me, some people like watching other people play cards, otherwise it wouldn’t be on TV. But can anyone explain how watching someone else playing cards on TV is exciting? I honestly don’t get it. But that isn’t my real issue here.

What bugs me is that they show poker on ESPN and most of the other sports channels. I will give you watching poker on TV because as my high school English teacher, Sandy Ward, told me once upon hearing me say that Shakespeare was stupid, “Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean that it’s stupid.” I’ve tried to practice that and will in this situation. What my beef basically boils down to is this: POKER IS NOT A SPORT!

There are other activities or games that I don’t think quite fit the strictest definition of what we in America know as sports. Golf, for instance. A game that in 15 or so years of playing, I never improved by a single stroke, so I quit. Craig Stadler, The Walrus, is a world-class professional golfer who won several PGA tournaments including the 1982 Masters, perhaps golf’s most coveted title. Craig Stadler is a large man who doesn’t look much different than your average 50 year old, somewhat overweight golfer that you might see on a local municipal course. While he may not run a sub ten-second 40 yard dash, at least he has the physical coordination and skills that golf requires and he excels at it. And make no mistake, golf requires physical skills and some athleticism.

Some have even thrown auto racing into the “is it a sport or not” debate. Sitting in and driving a car at an incredibly high rate of speed with no air conditioning for 500 miles at the very least requires finely tuned reflexes and a good degree of conditioning.

Playing a card game requires you to be awake. Playing poker on TV specifically requires you be awake and dressed like the Unabomber. Poker, spades, rummy; all of these can be fun games to play. Now, what I’m about to say is not a slight against my mother in any way, shape, form, or fashion. But if I can sit down as a 40 year old, reasonably fit man and play rummy with my 79 year old mother and lose, which I probably would, then that would indicate to me that a card game is not a sport.

Is poker on ESPN a harbinger of things to come? Will I one day find myself glued to the TV for the national Monopoly championship? Scrabble, maybe? “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DIDN’T KNOW THE WORD “QAT!” YOU MORON!” Can you imagine the roof being blown off of Cameron Indoor Stadium by almost 10,000 crazy fans chanting in unison, “JEN-GA, JEN-GA, JEN_GA!” If poker is a sport then Don’t Spill the Beans can’t be too far behind.

My point is this: Maybe I’m a purist but let’s put actual sports on the sports channels. For everyone who likes to watch someone play cards on TV, let’s create a channel for that, but at least give me my football and baseball on ESPN2. Will Texas Hold ‘Em be the next big Olympic event? Hey, they’ve got curling! Poker can be a fun game to play and maybe even watch from time to time. A sport? Nah. Plus, don’t they have a gameshow network? I’m just saying.

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2 thoughts on “What? That’s on ESPN?

  1. Keep in mind that I did say I didn’t necessarily have a problem with someone watching it on TV. The Mrs. Ward comment. But whether one likes watching or not, it ain’t a sport. That was my point. That a card game was on ESPN. Not that people watch as they obviously do.

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