It can’t be easy running a 24-hour, all-sports television network.
After all, there’s only so much hockey, football and baseball you can show in a single day. Then you have to start padding the schedule with second-tier stuff like tennis, golf and six hours of highlights. After that, you get really desperate, which explains Off the Record and the Viking Challenge.
But sometimes even the bottom of the barrel comes up dry. Then you have to start looking outside the barrel for non-sports competitions, such as cheerleading, fitness pageants or dog shows. If you’re desperate enough, maybe even curling.
Just kidding … we love curling. But it’s pretty close to the line which divides sports and non-sports — for some it’s shuffleboard on ice, for others it’s a riveting test of skill and strategy. Either way, it’s a hell of a lot better than darts.
10. HORSE RACING
Rule No. 1: If the competitors don’t know they’re playing a sport, it isn’t a sport. Not only do horses not realize they’re taking part in a “sport,” they’re being forced to do so against their will. Do you think Barbaro signed a waiver before he allowed a midget to jump on his back and beat him all the way around a race track? Hate to say it, but PETA’s got a point on this one.
9. FIGURE SKATING
Some would say any sport that requires judging is not a sport, but that argument eliminates just about any competition with a referee. No, the real reason figure skating isn’t a sport is because half of a participant’s score is based on “artistic impression.” If you apply that rule to golf, for instance, then Sergio Garcia and his lime-green pants would never lose a tournament.
8. LONG-DRIVE COMPETITIONS
Golf is pointless enough … did they really have to rip off one overrated part of the game and try turning it into a sport in its own right? Yes, a 400-yard drive is certainly impressive, even for a steroid-addled musclehead aiming a 50-inch driver down a 60-yard-wide fairway. But so is pulling the string on a sand wedge and watching it spin back 30 feet on the green. Come to think of it, that would be a pretty cool competition.
7. BASS FISHING
Rule No. 2: If you can drink beer while doing it, it’s not a sport. Then again, with more than $2 million in career earnings, pro bass legend Kevin Vandam probably sticks to champagne. Throw in sponsorships — these guys have more logos on them than stock car drivers — and he’s probably doing better than the average heart surgeon. The apocalypse is nigh.
6. BALLROOM DANCING
In 1997, the International Olympic Committee recognized dancesport (that’s what they call it) as a bona fide sport. Tragically, the IOC still hasn’t approved it for the Olympic Games. Supporters say it’s figure skating without the ice. In other words, they agree with us — not a sport.
5. SPELLING BEES
Nobody in their right mind would call competitive spelling a sport, but for some reason it keeps cropping up on sports channels. Yes, it can be entertaining watching geeks in their formative years, but it shouldn’t be on TSN. It’s like showing hockey on an outdoor channel.
Rule No. 3: If Vic Rauter is doing the play-by-play, it probably isn’t a sport. When he isn’t showing off his counting skills on curling broadcasts, Rauter is the voice of TSN’s five-pin bowling coverage. Make the final Rauter 2, Sports 0. 3.
Yes, it takes a lot of athletic ability to leap off the top rope, do two flips and then take a folding chair to the head. But if that’s a sport, then so is Cirque du Soleil. At best, wrestlers are skilled performers who must follow a script which leads to a pre-determined outcome. Rule No. 4: Sports require real competition (so if you play for the Philadelphia Flyers, you’re out of luck).
Between NASCAR, bass fishing and their purdy cousins, you’d think rednecks would have enough diversions to keep them busy until the next monster truck show. Apparently not, because TSN has recently added paintball to its lineup. What’s next? Tag? Hide-and-seek?
Hasn’t poker had its 15 minutes of fame already? It’s starting to feel like three hours. The only physical skills required to play Texas Hold ‘Em are the ability to shuffle chips and maintain consciousness for hours on end. Yet it’s on every sports network on the planet. Make it stop.
EDMONTON SUN MEDIA