by Kevin Burton
What was previously unthinkable, now I don’t even think about.
I’m talking about a ravenous, red-blooded American sports fan giving up ESPN.
I did that, we did that, years ago.
This comes up because it is football season now, or close enough. The pre=season pro games have started. The pre-season college polls have been issued. My fantasy football draft is a mere two weeks away, with maybe one or two more teams/drafts to be scheduled.
Our cable television provider and surely yours too, sells its product in blocks or tiers. They have certain packages you can get. They group the cable channels as they see fit to extract the money from you because mostly there isn’t any honest-to-God competition for cable television in most markets.
These packages are unassailable, immutable, as if Moses brought this stuff down off a mountain.
Imagine if your grocery store worked that way. So maybe the only way you could purchase Chili Cheese Fritos would be to also take those nasty Sun Chips, off-brand crab chips and some nonsense with mango flavoring.
Much worse than this, your elected politicians pass laws in much the same convoluted way. For details on that, please see somebody else’s blog. We’ll keep things light here and stick with football.
Sorry, almost lost it there.
The cable packages differ but have one thing in common, they have high prices that increase frequently.
During a wave of cost-cutting moves a few years ago, we got rid of the landline and all but basic cable.
That meant no ESPN.
Once I figured out I could get my can’t-miss show, ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption, as a podcast by computer (and now by Alexa) I could painlessly say goodbye to the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
I don’t recall specifically but I probably made it seem like giving up ESPN was a big sacrifice, to get a boatload of K&J points from Jeannette (See “K&J Points, Our Mercurial, Floating Currency,” Aug. 10).
Anyway, now it is football season. How does the no-ESPN thing work for me? It means I will likely have access to six or seven college games on a given Saturday instead of six or seven hundred.
I can live with that. I have lived with that.
First of all, note to all sports television programmers, I don’t want to see Rutgers do anything. No football, no basketball, nothing.
Remember when ESPN first started televising college football on Thursday nights? In a way it was a signature moment, but it was nothing but Rutgers games. So I was thinking, this is football, sort of, but it’s just Rutgers so it really doesn’t hit that sweet spot.
And all that Boise State-Miami of Ohio-Wake Forest-New Mexico State stuff? I don’t need that either.
Second, I can only watch one game-of-the-century at a time.
You may say I don’t exactly sound like a ravenous sports fan. That much is true. My daily sports intake is nothing like it used to be.
I was about 26 when I moved to Alaska. I promise you, the very first thing I did was buy a television and call the local cable outlet to get the max-mega cable extravaganza package. I wasn’t asking any questions about terms and conditions either.
There might have been the odd moose wandering around in the post office parking lot within sight of my apartment, but I was going to have televised Midwest civilization piped in 24-7, just as sure as I was going to have the place heated.
Several somethings have happened since then. Now, to sit down and watch an entire college football game, all 43 Aflac commercials, not sure how often that will ever happen again.
So what is ESPN even like these days dear reader? Can you still get Canadian football and bowling? How about billiards and cheerleading competitions? Or maybe something better has been added that I am missing out on?
Now there is one caveat to this whole thing. The day that NFL football is not available on commercial TV, I will eat every word I just typed, along with my Chili Cheese Fritos, and I’ll throw in some Mango Bites. That’ll be the day I switch it all back.
But for now I’ll be more than content to get Kansas State football via radio and watch parts of some Big 10 and SEC games on the tube. As long as I get my NFL, it’s all good.