Thursday, February 09, 2006

Murdoch's Law of Extreme Sports

Here I am, watching Jimmy White and Steve Davis battle it out in Premier League (gasp!) Snooker. If you're thinking I've lost my mind a little bit, worry not. I don't sit down in front of TV every evening to watch grown men attempting to pot polished little balls as if their life depended on it. But such is sport, isn't it? It can be so trivial, almost absurd, yet require some sublime skills at the same time. To be fair, I do like snooker and nine ball pool (as opposed to billiards, that dreary cousin of theirs) - in fact I do enjoy playing nine ball pool myself, and I must admit it is a natural consequence of living in apartment complexes in America for too long. At the rate we are going though, snooker is beginning to look more and more like the mainstream, mass (TV) spectator sport that it already is in the UK. Ah TV! Such a wonderful thing - what would I have done with half my lifetime without it? And the Sports Channels - these are in a class of their own. Especially when you have too many of them sprouting up in the hope that they can make it all hang together by getting some lucrative contract or the other. The more contracts a broadcaster has, the more sports channels they can conjure up, delivering a more comprehensive package to the paying customer. Of course, it's all about the customer. Anyhow, when the contracts fail to come in, we have issues. Because we have a half-a-dozen channels each of which promises 24-hour thrill fests. Lest we upset the viewer - can't have that - we start pioneering. Did the BCCI bidding process turn out to be more complicated than getting land registered in Orissa? No worries mate, let's get Vijayan and Bhutia all fired up and unleash them, and some pretty young thing, on unsuspecting viewers. I mean, who decides Poker isn't really a television sport? Especially given the venue is usually a most tastefully decorated casino and that the winner takes in a cool couple of million greenbacks (displayed in all their glory during the course of the event). Or that podgy gentlemen firing darts in the middle of a grimy looking pub isn't worth the valuable time of young men who usually respond only to Kanye West? There you go - so we have extreme motorcross, where the names don't quite roll off the tongues because they're mostly Scandinavian; we also have Bass fishing, Texas Hold 'em Poker, Darts and so on and so forth. But beat this - Fox Sports (don't ask me which one, they're all equally dreary - this is in Australia) has Cha-Cha (or was it Salsa?). And why not? The winter olympics has figure skating, doesn't it? Isn't rhythmic gymnastics an olympic sport? After all, all this is based upon a very sound principle - programming expands to fill the time available. - NK


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