Off Air Comments
Thursday
Feb232012

Setting up a Classic

Like many people, I visit ESPN.com an average of ten times per day. I have a boring job, and I love sports. Yesterday on visit number nine I read an article about Tiger Woods’ round one defeat of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. The article began by describing Woods as a man who is “Battling a severe cold”.  

I have a few issues with this.

Issue number one. A severe cold? Really? What does a severe cold mean? Is he running a fever and tossing his cookies or does he just have a really bad case of the sniffles? I don’t think a severe cold exists. At some point, the cold becomes so bad that it becomes a real ailment, not something you can cure with a bowl of momma’s chicken noodle soup.

My other issue here is with ESPN for even mentioning his health. Look, I understand that things like this add to the drama of an event. If you’re going to report on an athlete being sick though, he needs to really be sick. His temperature should be so high that doctors can’t understand how he’s not hallucinating (Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game”). If he’s hurt he should be in visible pain every step of the way (Curt Schilling’s Bloody-Sock Game).

The event Tiger is playing in isn’t on the scale of the NBA finals or the World Series, it’s on the scale of an NBA Christmas day game or an MLB opening day game: awesome, not epic. And his “sickness” if you can even call it that, isn’t even something I’d get sent home for in grade school.

ESPN does this a lot. They try to make an already impressive performance into a classic. I guess it makes sense for them to do so, they did devote an entire channel to classics and they could use some updated material to fill the time slots. But round one at the WGC-Accenture Match Play event is never going to make it to ESPN Classic, especially not because Tiger had a runny nose.

If it’s a classic Tiger Woods tournament you want, look no further then the 2008 U.S. Open. Tiger played 72 holes on a leg that had just been operated on and had two stress factures that he didn’t tell anyone about. Then he played a 19-hole playoff to eek out a win over Rocco Mediate. We’re talking about a man who played 91 holes on one leg and still beat the best in the world and this is the guy you think is going to be slowed down by a soar throat? Get him so tea, give him two Tylenol and don’t mention his cold again.

ESPN, if you can’t make due with the stories you’ve been given this year you should pull the plug on the network. In the last 60 days alone you’ve run wild with Tim Tebow, the New York Giants, Peyton Manning, and Jeremy Lin. Now you need to juice up an already good Tiger story? The man is playing with the weight of the world on his back and you think a little wheezing is noteworthy? Get out of here.

 

-Jeff Kahn

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