Oliver Bateman spent an entire week watching the not-so-must-see-TV on ESPN Classic. This is his story.
For most of us, a few hours of rebuilding the woebegone Cleveland Browns franchise in Madden 2012 is enough to dispel the pain of having a handful of responsibilities, and staring uncomprehendingly at live sporting events like the PGA Championship or incessant reruns of last night’s SportsCenter usually suffices to alleviate even the most stubborn malt liquor-and-$5 pizza pie-induced hangovers.
But this kind of mundanity won’t cut it for everyone, I’m afraid. Ask yourself: Are you one of those people who simply can’t get bored out of his or her skull by how boring everything is? Do you feel like your life is still only almost meaningless, not utterly? Would you like to take the next step and renounce all of the ties that bind your conscious mind to the phenomenal world?
If yes, then ESPN Classic is the network for you. Let’s examine some broadcasts from last fall in order to understand how this quality programming can be put to practical use.
Date and time: 10/05/2011 at midnight. Your choice: Reading your Intro to Psychology textbook or watching “AWA Wrestling.”
Oh friends, is this really a choice at all? Is there any reason to waste precious seconds trying to figure out why Freud loved phalluses or why playing Call of Duty wasn’t at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when you could be watching fat, out-of-shape 1970s Midwestern wrestling icons like Dick “the Bruiser” and “The Crusher” bump bellies with even fatter wrestling icons like 400-pound “Crusher” Jerry Blackwell and 450-pound “Crusher” Broomfield? Put down that glorified Rand McNally World Fact Book and tune in for a solid hour of Irish whips, headbutts, fake-looking punches, more Irish whips, the occasional elbow drop off the bottom rope, one or two extra headbutts for good measure and color commentary so bad that you’ll find yourself pining for Dennis Miller’s glory days on Monday Night Football.
Date and time: 10/07/2011 at 1 a.m. The choice: Doing that so-huge-it’s-demoralizing pile of filthy laundry in the corner of your room or watching the epic 2001 college football match-up between the Boise State Broncos and the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Yeah, that pile’s probably reeking something fierce right now. Sure, that hoodie and those loose sweatpants haven’t been treated with anything stronger than a spritz of Febreze since your freshman year. And, yes, there are undoubtedly all sorts of interesting items buried under the pile, such as the first student ID you ever lost and the five or six library books you checked out back when you thought people used anything other than Wikipedia to prepare their research papers. Even accounting for these concerns, though, it’s a no-brainer: How could you possibly pass up an opportunity to watch two of the most prestigious college football programs in NCAA history (perhaps only Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State and North Texas boast superior pedigrees) butt heads in what proved to be a 35-30 slobber-knocker of a thriller of a barnburner? How could you forgo a chance to watch future NFL stars like David Carr (2002 #1 overall NFL draft pick!), Brock Forsey, Ryan Dinwiddie and many other sentimental favorites toss around that ol’ pigskin as if it were weightless and the game were being held on the surface of the moon? You can’t, so save the laundry for Mom’s biannual visit and watch lightning—by which I mean BSU and its lightning-quick “fun-n-gun” offense—strike over and over again.
Date and time: 10/10/2011 at 8:00 p.m. The choice: Studying for next week’s exam in your general studies class or watching a replay of welterweight great Angel “El Diablo” Manfredy’s 2001 boxing match against Lamar Murphy.
You’ve got to be kidding, right? This is an episode of Punk’d and a punking is forthcoming, yes? Friends, there is simply no good reason why you should invest a single brain cell in studying for an exam that is over six days away. After all, the best and easiest way to learn anything is to schedule an all-nighter with a study group that contains at least one person who has gone to a few of the classes. In exchange for a few hours in your too-cool-for-school presence, he or she will almost assuredly give you the 411 on what’s hot and what’s not on this test. In the meantime, you owe it to yourself to watch Manfredy walk to the ring wearing his latex Satan mask and spend 10 rounds giving poor, overmatched Lamar Murphy the hiding of a lifetime.
Date and time: 10/13/2011 at 1:00 p.m. The choice: Doing anything else or watching the 2009 college football “instant classic” between South Florida and Connecticut.
Friedrich Nietzsche posited the notion of an “eternal recurrence” in aphorism 341 of The Gay Science, asking the reader what he or she would do if told “this life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more.” Let’s assume, arguendo, that what Freddy said there is true. If you have to live your life “once more and innumerable times more,” what would you rather be doing at 1 p.m. on October 13, 2011 than gazing in awe as the hated USF Bulls lose 29-27 to the underdog UConn Huskies? Can you think of one thing, one single thing? Using your Yahoo! webmail? Get real! Doing that noxious pile of laundry that’s still on the floor? Hardly! Punking someone like on that show Punk’d? What is this, 2006? Nope, this is 2011 — but it’s also 2009, because that’s when this glorious and wholly unprecedented game happened, only now you get to relive it once more and soon you’ll be reliving that reliving “once more and innumerable times more.”
What could be more life-affirming than that, my dear friends?