Tar Heel Fan

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Next ___________

On non-sports related item before I get into the real post. I caught a couple of episodes of the show JAG which is about lawyers in the U.S. Navy's Judge Advocate General's office investigating a variety of crimes and misdemeanors commited by sailors and Marines. I noticed that there are cases where some sailor commits some minor mistake that result in some major problem which is later resolved without harm to anyone but the sailor in question and his/her commanding officer get booted from the Navy or assigned to desk duty at Norfolk. However, at the same time the officers in the JAG corps who serve as the heroes of the show bend or break rules on a consistent basis only to receive minor slaps on the wrists for their indiscretions. Just a double standard I thought I would mention without having in relation to the post at hand. Anyway, ESPN will apparently continue to wallow in a pool of its own excrement and muck tonight debuting the "World Series of Darts" just before showing the "World Series of Poker" Dan Shanoff at ESPN.com's Daily Quickie wonders whether or not "Darts" will be the "next Poker" I am wondering when the madness will stop. First of all, poker is not a sport. I question whether horse racing is a sport(don't get me started on lead stories about Barbaro's condition, it's a horse! If he was 2nd in the Derby he would glue and dog food by now!) I know for sure guys sitting around playing a card game is most definitely not a sport. And do not give me silly arguments about strategy and mental prowess, you either have the cards or your don't and if you can get your opponents to fold by bluffing then that is a wonderful accomplishment but in no way is it a sport. Darts on the other hand is closer to being a sport since it requires physical motion and accuracy. Secondly, I take issue with Shanoff's contention that darts is the "next Poker." I have never been able to understand what the media obessesion is with find the "next" whatever. Anytime you have one person or sport/event catch fire with the public the media instantly begins looking for the next incarnation of that person or thing. During the late 1980's the media was hot to crown the "next Michael Jordan." USC's Harold Miner was dubbed "Baby Jordan" and was expected to be everything Jordan was only he was not. Why? Because he is not Jordan. When someone or something special comes along it become popular because it is unique. Americans do not like getting behind something they have already seen, we are fickled that way. That is why no one watches re-runs on TV. Jordan, as an example, was on a different level in almost every way than the rest of the league. His media presence and his play on the court made him a superstar. The other part of his mystique was that he as different than anything we had seen before. That is why Harold Miner was doomed from Day 1 because having another 6-6 guard with a shaved head and 46 inch vertical is not captivating. Also consider that the odds of a second individual coming along with exactly the same prowess and media attraction as Jordan during the same span of time is long anyway. In fact I would argue that LeBron James is the next top superstar in the league and is closer to emulating everything Jordan has done but at the same time James is a completely different player than Jordan plus three years younger when he became a rookie. My point is that finding the "next" something is always a bad point to start. The most basic method of finding out who or what is the next attraction for the public is to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. And whatever is left clinging to the plaster is not the "next" anything, it is it's own thing.


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