One of the biggest challenges for me as a blogger, and one reason I will probably never ascend to much more than a site read by more than a couple dozen people, is a lack of time. I always feel bad writing on here. I feel like if I have time to plop my lard butt down in front of my Apple and write about the evils of Billy Donovan and who is the better singer on American Idol, then I certainly should be using it in a more constructive manner. (This is the same reason I have not posted my Oceans Thirteen review.) So, I will go through these long periods of no posts, which I am sure frustrates the few people who actually wander on to this site.
That being said, I have had this series of posts on television that I have been wanting to post for a while now, but just have not been able to force myself to do. Part of that was the aforementioned time issue. The other problem is that I am not sure how much you fair readers care about television. But, I honestly don't know how much you care about anything else I have written, so I am going to go ahead and start this thing and see what happens.
The other day I was watching So You Think You Can Dance (or SYTYCD, as reflected on their new line of clothing). Well, this is the third year of this show. And I admit I am hooked. I don't know squat about dancing. My idea of dancing is leaning up against the railing around the dance floor and making fun of everyone else. When I try to dance, I look like a lumbering bear with a pulled hamstring. But I like the show. It is NOT because there is great dancing going on - there is, or so I assume. I wouldn't recognize good dancing from bad dancing. Honestly, some of what is raved about on the show looks like somebody got a couple bees stuck in their oversized sweatshirt and hot pants. The other day, there were TWO routines where dancers imitated birds. (Huh?!?) When my son runs around squawking and flailing his arms around I yell, "STOP THAT! PEOPLE ARE GOING TO THINK THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU!" I certainly don't go, "So, you think you can dance? Well watch this lumbering bear impersonation with jazz hands."
Anyway, I watch because of the drama - same as what drew me to American Idol. I remember reading a sports writer (I think it was Kornheiser) who wrote a few years back that American Idol was the new sports in America. You have favorites and villains. There are matchups that favor some competitors over others. You have judges and announcers and corporate sponsors. Well, I tend to agree with him. That is what makes these shows so entertaining. There is a sports element to it. When Sanjaya and Haley were scorching their way through AI this past year, I was screaming in agony at the television worse than when Duke was a powerhouse. When Melinda got knocked out, it was like watching the Dallas Mavericks get ousted in the first round this past NBA season.
SYTYCD is very similar. I have favorites (Pasha & Jessi, Hok, Dominic & Sabra) and un-favorites (Cedric, Shauna). I was horrified when bird couple Pasha/Jessi ended up in the bottom three. When Cedric made it through, I shook my head. It was like sports. Possibly this transfer has happened because sports has lost some of their attraction to me - and to many people. AI pulls in over 25 million people a week. The NBA Finals pulled in 6.5 million for the fourth game. Sports has become something that no one can relate to. Honestly, unless you are a genetic freak who is tutored and trained from an early age, you aren't going to play sports. It isn't like it used to be, where you could have a dream to make it into the big leagues. If you are still hoping for that, sorry to pop your bubble. That combined with free agency and the big business element of sports, and you have something that people enjoy, but are not as vested in.
Here's an example. When I was growing up, here was how I viewed sports.
NFL: My favorite was Dallas, period. I hated the 49ers, Dolphins, Steelers, Redskins. My dad like Chicago. My brother like the Redskins (of course). My mom like Denver (because of Elway).
NBA: I liked the Hawks. I hated the Celtics and Lakers. My dad loved the Celtics and hated the Lakers. My brother loved the Lakers and hated the Celtics.
COLLEGE: I loved the Georgia Bulldogs, hated Notre Dame, UF and UM. My dad liked UM and hated UF. My brother loved USC.
MLB: I loved the Yankees and hated the Red Sox and Braves. No one else cared.
NHL: I was not aware this was a sport.
Everyone had favorite teams and favorite players - FROM THOSE TEAMS. I cheered for Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker (the perfect match of UGA and Dallas - until he got traded). I loved Dominique Wilkins. I hated Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Roger Craig, Dan Marino, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, every UM quarterback. There was no cross-pollinating.
Well, then came Michael Jordan. Herschel got traded for 243 people, which helped Dallas win Super Bowls. The Hawks traded 'Nique and he ended up on the Celtics. I realized people like Montana and Marino had personalities. Charles Haley - of the 49ers - signed with the Cowboys. And that Rat Fish-Turd Shaq left the Magic for the Lakers. The whole thing got muddled. Now, I cheer for players more than teams. You can't get committed to a player through your favorite team because they won't stay there.
Now, my view of the sports landscape is this:
NFL: I like the Bucs and Jaguars - but hate Dallas due to their personnel decisions and approach to business. I also hate the Dolphins, 49ers, Broncos, and Patriots. When the Steelers won their title, I was happy for them.
NBA: I like the Magic, but also like good stories - like Golden State this year. I cheered for Michael Jordan. I hate Kobe, so I hate the Lakers. I still hate the Celtics, but they are so pathetic I can't beat up on them too bad. I like the Spurs' approach to basketball.
COLLEGE: I still love UGA. I love UCF. I follow USF and wish them well - except against UCF. I loathe UF beyond belief. I went through loving FSU and now hating them due to their thuggery. I can't stand Notre Dame, UM, BYU, and Duke. I also cheer for any team that is an underdog (unless I hate them) and any team that can wreck havoc with the Top 25, the BCS, or the Tournament. I cheer for any team who can advance UGA or UCF with a win.
MLB: I love the Yankees. I hate the Red Sox and Braves. I like the Giants - and have loved Barry Bonds. The overwhelming circumstantial allegations against him have started to turn me. I wish his knees would explode so we could stop hearing the stupid home run record argument. I don't like A-Rod, but I admire him and he's a Yankee so I have to cheer for him. I am starting to hate the A's, Angels, and Diamondbacks.
NHL: I was glad Tampa won a title. Does that count?
So, the sports scene is so crazy, I have turned to rooting on singers and dancers. I find myself more committed to catching those shows than sports - even playoffs. I watched part of 3 of the NBA Finals games. I turned off LeBron's 48 point masterpiece in the 3rd Quarter. I missed two entire rounds of the NFL playoffs this year. I also missed three rounds of the NCAA Tournament this year. I did not watch the UF National Championship game - either football or basketball. I quite frankly did not care. I watch no baseball until the playoffs. I watch a handful of Magic games, and try to watch the NFL on Sunday. But I DVR American Idol and SYTYCD and make sure I watch them. I even bought the complete AI collection CD this year - 76 songs (more on that in part 2). These shows hold as much interest for me - and for America.
Why? Because THESE are regular people. Phil is a Navy guy with a wife and kids from Jacksonville. His dad is a pastor. He's bald and looks like a cross between a vampire and Gollum. Chris Sligh is a worship leader who went to school with one of the administrative assistants at First Baptist Oviedo. Jessi on SYTYCD is from Florida, and works in an office and hates her job. We can relate to these people. We all sing. We all dance around. We all hate our jobs and want to see something amazing happen. That is what attracts people to these shows. Unfortunately, that is also where they are in some real danger - which I will get into in the second part of this series.