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Those Other Sports (part 2)

Oh snap! It’s time for the highly anticipated part two of my “sports nobody really cares that much about” column, and I’ve still got seven sports to attend to. For those of you who missed yesterday’s column and decided to simply read the second part first for no particular reason, here’s a quick recap:

In the middle of the afternoon, I usually flip through the sports networks for something to watch. If I had my druthers, I’d pick baseball. But whenever I don’t have those druthers, I have to select from a bunch of other “fringe sports” that aren’t really very popular. So naturally I devoted a column to grading each of these other sports, and yesterday I reviewed World’s Strongest Man (B+), 9-Ball Billiards (D), Trick Shot Billiards (B+), X-Games (B-), and Bowling (C). And that brings me to this column, where I’ll begin with…

Sumo Wrestling – This is basically the sports equivalent of a Sum41 CD. The first five minutes (or the first song, as long as we’re sticking with this metaphor) you watch it, it’s fairly entertaining. But then you watch another match (or another song), and it’s just about the same, only now the initial appeal has worn off. After 10 minutes in, you get that “I guess this is why Jack Edwards is announcing” epiphany (or the “You know what, I’m just gonna download that one song off Kazaa” epiphany) and turn the channel. Overall Grade – D+

Curling – This technically shouldn’t fall into this category, for a couple of reasons. Despite the fact that it’s in the Olympics, it’s not even on the fringe of being popular, it’s buried in the bunker. And it never comes on ESPN, ESPN2, or Fox Sports in the afternoon. So why mention it? Because on Easter Sunday this year, NBC actually aired the women’s curling world championships (apparently Synchronized Swimming wasn’t available). I caught only the conclusion, in which the Americans pulled out a narrow victory over the Canadian team. But in the ten minutes that I watched, I heard three of the most ridiculous statements ever broadcast. One of the announcers actually said, “A lot of people don’t realize that curling is a very physically demanding sport.” Compared to what, Golden Tee? The final two comments came after the American team hit the game winning shot. The color commentator called it “the shot heard ‘round the world” and said that “you’ll be seeing this shot for years to come.” Apparently the producer cut the other announcers’ microphone, because I couldn’t hear the burst of laughter that must have followed these two statements. I'm still not totally convinced this actually happened. Overall Grade – C (despite the commentary, it’s still a fairly entertaining game)

Pro Beach Hockey – First of all, if you were at a beach, would you ever, under any circumstances, think to yourself, “I’d like to go see a hockey game”? No. Second, do we really need hockey in the summer? No. The playoffs just finished, why can’t we just enjoy the month or so before the NHL starts up again? And third, even IF we needed hockey in the summer at the beach, does anyone want to watch BAD hockey? No. Therefore, by inductive reasoning, there is no reason for Pro Beach Hockey to exist. It’s like a jellyfish: it serves no purpose other than its own survival and just pisses everyone off. Overall Grade – D-

World Series of Poker – I don’t get it. Look, I know that there’s a lot of money on the line. Yes, it’s all in cash, that’s kind of cool. I understand that these guys are obviously really good at keeping a straight face, probably even if they were sitting next to that curling announcer. But they’re playing cards and I don’t care to watch. I like to play cards, but I like to play Scrabble, too, and I wouldn’t want to watch that, even if they were playing for a pot the size of Lebron James’ shoe contract.

Stu Scott: “Y’all gotta check this out. Dude’s got the ‘Z’ AND the ‘Q.’ Straight SCHOOLS him with ‘QUIZ’ on the triple word score. Check out the replay again. I ain’t gon’ say nothin’, but that ain’t right!”

Maybe it’s just me. Overall Grade – D+

Rugby – This is the first sport in today’s column I like (to watch), and yes, it’s probably because I like football. Basically, it’s a less organized, more brutal, lower scoring version of American football. There are no pads, full contact, and every once in a while about five guys from each team run directly into each other in what’s called a “scrum.” I think it’s safe to say you won’t be seeing any women pulling an Annika Sorenstam in Rugby any time soon. Overall Grade – B+

Great Outdoor Games – As with the X-Games, I’m lumping all the “outdoor games” together because, well, it’s easier. And again, I just don’t get it, perhaps because I’m not really an outdoorsman. I don’t shoot stuff, I don’t fish, I don’t have a dog to train, I don’t own a chainsaw, and frankly I don’t log roll as often as I should. But… that doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t like to watch them. Log rolling, wood chopping, dog jumping, and a few other events have that “you don’t see that everyday” appeal that draws me in for 15 or 20 minutes. But fishing, shooting skeet, and everything else… let’s just say it’s not my bag, baby. Overall Grade – B-

The Spelling Bee – This is one of those shows that defy all reason and logic. It is NOT a sport. In fact, I don’t think there is anything else in the world that is LESS of a sport than the Spelling Bee. It’s educational. There is no athleticism involved whatsoever. And yet I always watch it. It’s basically a two-hour comedy starring an eclectic mix of nervous normal-looking kids, foreign mad-scientist looking kids, poker-faced kids who you know have been trained from birth to win the spelling bee, kids who cry, 13 year old kids who are three-foot-six and 61 pounds, and those kids who ask for 18 definitions and piss off the pronunciation guy. It’s downright delightful, in a difficult-to-explain kind of way. Overall Grade – A-

So, as shocking as it may be, I would choose the Spelling Bee above any of these other “fringe sports” to watch on a lazy summer afternoon. I would watch the Spelling Bee… I mean, if there’s nothing else on.

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