Tuesday, July 29

TWWL: Titletown? More like Retardville

Let me preface this post by saying I have nothing at all against Valdosta, Georgia. The title of the post refers to TWWL rather than the town. I have been to Valdosta. I stayed at a lovely Motel 6 on a drive back from rafting when the ex and I were too tired to keep driving into Florida on our way home. When I was coaching college rowing, I had the team stop at an Applebee’s on the way home from a regional race and one of the charming high school waitresses even asked one of my rowers to the prom. That being said, the latest ESPN summer hype that is called “Titletown” (it pains me even to type it) is nothing short of asinine.

In recent years ESPN has thought it necessary to fill the long summer months with some kind of pop culture celebration of sports. They had the 50 state tour in which they anchored Sportscenter from 50 different states; the point of that still escapes me. Then last summer they came out “Who’s Now?” which resulted in a roll of the eyes from every sports fan that doesn’t regularly watch the E! channel and a spewing forth of hatred on blogs everywhere. This year the brains in Bristol came up with “Titletown”. Again ESPN would hit the road and tour around the country visiting “nominees” for the label of Titletown and then would decide the winner by online voting. After wasting time and precious gallons of gas, Valdosta, Georgia assumes to the label of the city of champions. LOL wut?

The first discrepancy I have is the name of the feature. Besides the Favre mess, do the citizens of Green Bay and greater Wisconsin need anymore slaps in the face? Long ago Green Bay named itself Titletown. Arrogant maybe, but Vince Lombardi will do that to you. Nine league titles and three Super Bowl titles are the claim and certainly other cities and teams can claim more, but at the time of Lombardi that is the name they claimed and were called by themselves and those in the sports community. Would it have killed the suits at the network to come up with a different if not slightly modified name? Championville? Winsburg? Trophy City? Titleland? So, those are poor examples but there has to be some name out there that could be used.

Then time was taken out of each Sportscenter to review to finalists on the list. When I wake up in the morning or go to bed at night and turn on a highlight show, it sure as hell isn’t to see why Tim Tebow thinks Gainsville rocks. Then it is left up to internet voting, the true measuring stick of accurate public opinion. The results were obviously going to lead to a small town who wanted to get the recognition and claim the name on every city limit sign they posses winning the poll. Again, nothing wrong with Valdosta, and congrats to them, but such a waste of resources and time I have rarely seen.

I wrote a long section on what I think is wrong with ESPN, but I thought either the opinions have been stated by others in the internet forum (and with more choice words) and despite all its problems, TWWL is still watched because it has no immediate rival. I believe the internet alleviates a lot of the problem because now information is instant and you don’t have to sit through the horrible jokes on the telecast to find out what happened to your team. Instead I focused on this one feature, mostly because I found it hard to stomach and because it seems so unnecessary. Say what you will (and most people have) about Bryant Gumble or Bob Costas but when I see their sports shows on the television, I tune in. Costas is reviled in many blogging circles, but he addresses the tough issues in sports and brings them to an intelligent format. Real Sports gives you that angle of the other side of sports, be it joyous or heart-wrenching. ESPN tried to counter with E:60, but it was very convoluted and its crowning moment was the hot lamp interrogation of Miguel Tejada. ESPN has recently said to be interested in developing a show similar to the Daily Show but for sports. I sincerely hope not. They seem to want to place their focus on everything that surrounds sports but nothing on the actual sports themselves. And here I am getting sucked into an anti-ESPN rant. Anyway, the next time you are on I-75 through Georgia, be sure to acknowledge the Titletown signs as you ride through Valdosta, they earned it.

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