September 18, 2008

Change We Can Believe In

IN TIMES OF CRISIS, America demands leadership. For a true leader will stand up for substance over style, for what is right over what is convenient, and for what is just and good and true. In times like these, when the nation is struggling and cries out for healing and salvation, America needs change. Major change. Important change. Change that will have a real, positive impact on Americans' lives.

As such, I would ask our leaders: please, please, please take Tony Kornheiser off Monday Night Football.

I have given this a lot of thought, and after long consideration, I have concluded that no other policy act would have such an overwhelmingly positive impact on Americans' well-being. Removing Mr Kornheiser from Monday Night Football would immediately lead to improved productivity among American workers, particularly on Tuesdays; would significantly reduce chronic hypertension, saving billions of dollars a year in health costs; and could even lead to considerable increases in Americans' happiness quotient, to the point where we become as happy as Canada or Denmark. Thus, we can see removing Mr Kornheiser from the broadcast would cause Americans to look at life with such sunny optimism it would have amazed even Reagan.

I am not, of course, suggesting to our leaders -- by which I mean the people who run ESPN -- that Mr Kornheiser should be removed from the air entirely. I am confident Mr Kornheiser's talents can be put to good use covering other important sports, such as soccer, auto racing, fly fishing or field hockey, preferably at five in the morning. Indeed, one might suggest that certain sports could use a bit of the exaggeration, hyperbole, oversimplification and general buffoonery that Mr Kornheiser brings weekly to the Monday Night Football broadcast. Like, say, curling. Or badminton. Or beach volleyball. Indeed, I think beach volleyball would be much more exciting if Mr Kornheiser were to look at a preliminary friendly match as a "must win" contest, a sobriquet he applied to the Cowboys-Eagles game in Week Two.

Nor is this to say Mr Kornheiser's particular style of analysis is unfit for certain fields. Indeed, Mr Kornheiser would undoubtedly do well as a substitute for Jim Cramer on CNBC's "Mad Money," on those days when Mr Cramer feels he just has to lie down after a busy day screaming about the stock market. In temperament, the two men are not far apart. Mr Cramer, for instance, seems to go on about hedge funds. Mr Kornheiser seems to go on about the NFC East.

I just don't know how much more the American people can take of Mr Kornheiser, that's all. I don't know about the rest of you, but certainly one benefit I saw to having the Patriots lose the Super Bowl last year was that we did not have to hear about them from Mr Kornheiser, who had spent much of the season wondering aloud whether the team would go 19-0. It also might be nice if Monday Night Football's top analyst would not say odd things, such as insulting the Mexican people during the NFL's concerted effort to reach out to Hispanics.

But I have confidence ESPN's management will do the right thing. After all, as Ventura County Star columnist Jim Carlisle has reported, ESPN made a major push this year to have the Monday Night Football broadcasts focus on actual football, instead of pushing reams of celebrucrap. Commish is wise, the people said. And there was much rejoicing, because no longer did the people have to dread Mondays, fearing that Matthew McConaughey would emerge from nowhere to ruin the night's football.

As an aside, it's worth noting that the one time ESPN had a decent celebrity guest -- Jimmy Kimmel -- ESPN got huffy and said he wouldn't be invited back. I'm sorry, but I about fell out of my chair laughing when Mr Kimmel innocently asked, "Where's Joe?" (Don't give them ideas, Jim!)

It's also worth nothing that sometimes alternate ideas do, in fact, work. In Monday Night Football's case, I have to say that ESPN's second-tier Monday crew -- of Mike, Mike, and Mike -- was far better than the first-run crew. I would enjoy watching them call the games much more than the present first-run crew of Messrs Tirico, Jaworski and Kornheiser. You've got a decent play-by-play guy in Mr Greenberg, a good analyst in Mr Golic and, well, Ditka. I mean, come on. Plus, they're all named Mike. On general principle alone, that's reason enough to put them in charge of Monday Night Football every week.

It's worth a shot, anyway. So I would encourage ESPN to embrace change; nay, revel in it. Do the right thing, not only for yourselves but for the American people. Have Mike, Mike, and Mike do Monday Night Football from now on. That's change we can all believe in.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at September 18, 2008 10:25 PM | TrackBack
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