There are few worse feelings than the pit in your stomach that erupts when your alarm goes off in the morning on a weekday. In my case, this feeling reaches extreme levels during the summer months, when I generally run off 6 hours of sleep and have to be up at the crack of dawn for my summer job. While I'm usually reasonably pleasant when I wake up later in the morning, all bets are off before 8 A.M. My parents have learned to just leave me alone before I go to work or expect curt, dismissive responses to whatever conversation they try to start.
While much of the 45 minutes that I spend prior to leaving for work is devoted to my daily routine, I find solace in the 5-10 minutes that I spend eating breakfast in front of the tube. Its my time to wet my palate, perform one of my three favorite bodily functions, and get lost in SportsCenter for a few brief moments before sliding in the dark chasm of the daily grind of the real world.
But like clockwork, ESPN chooses to take away this pleasure from me for one week each year. Every summer, they choose to fill my morning with agony and guilt, topped with the syrupy-sweetness of fleeting hope. Every summer, my morning breakfast collides with each of the five segments of SportsCenter's week-long My Wish series.
The My Wish segment is a week-long SportsCenter special that shows terminally-ill children having their sports-related dreams fulfilled with their favorite pro athletes/teams via the Make-a-Wish Foundation. ESPN does a great job milking the melodramatic and using cheesy, obnoxious music to help paint the tale of these young tikes who get to live their sports fantasy, such as playing catch with Marion Barber, betting on pit bulls with Michael Vick, or taking a highway booze-cruise with Charles Barkley.
Don't get me wrong: I do have a soul. Do these kids deserve to have an awesome day in between chemo treatments? Absolutely. Is it great that this program for the kids exists? Certainly. Do I applaud the athletes for participating in it? Of course. Does it make for this make for good television? Well...
I'm sure there's an audience for this kind of fluff, namely the soap opera crowd or those who relish in having a good cry or heart-wrenching Holocaust film. But goddamn it, that's not the target market for SportsCenter. That market is young-to-middle-aged males looking for sassy commentary over sports highlights. Great ESPN, you get to improve your imagine. Meanwhile, I have a stomach ache because I just saw a kid get to walk out of Cowboy Stadium knowing that he just lived the best day of his life at age 6. That's not what I need in the morning. That makes me feel like shit. What I need is more Name That Molina or jokes about Livan Hernandez being fat. Sure, I could change the channel over to NESN for five minutes, but that's like trading in a Corvette with a engine trouble for a Toyota Camry.
So come on, ESPN. Hock this thing off to the Hallmark Channel. Let SportsCenter be for sports and give me my mindless sanctuary of box scores and Bottom Lines back.