Today is the first day of September, and that means the return of football to our lives. More importantly that means the return of 24/7 football COVERAGE on ESPN. Football pre-game shows. Football post-game shows. Football highlights and anaysis. "Fantasy football" analysis. You get the picture. All football, all the time. These last few days before the season are the best time of the year because you get to feel that tingling excitement about your favorite team and enjoy watching ESPN overhype your squad, before facing the inevitable reality of another disappointing season when your boys get upset week 1. Perhaps the most exciting thing about all this is it means I actually have reason to watch ESPN again. July/August are horrible ESPN months. Baseball is not quite in the stretch run yet and our hometown team sucks anyways. No basketball or hockey again till winter. Lets not even get into soccer again. So ESPN fills up it's schedule with programming that doesn't qualify as "real sports." Namely the fucking WORLD SERIES OF POKER.
Every once in a while a couple buddies and I get together for poker night. During the game we eat cheetos and demolish Tostitos queso. We down beers and whiskey. We make use of various tobacco products. Basically we are your average group of 20 something out of shape bros. Would I ever describe my gambling social circle as a group of "athletes?" Hell no. Every day however, ESPN shows guys that look just like us play each other in high stakes poker tournaments for HOURS on end. Jesus Christ. Why the hell would I want to watch a leisure activity on ESPN? A poker hand on ESPN's "World Series of Poker" is not significantly different from poker night at my house other than the fact that you're betting Benjamins instead of quarters. You might as well show people playing fucking "Madden 2010" against each other on Xbox and call it "sports programming."
(Oh wait ESPN does that as well. Goddamnit.)
At some point when I was in college this whole "World Series of Poker" phenomenon took off. I lived with a group of poker fanatics so I had to deal with the effects of this more than the average guy. Now when your poker addict buddies weren't loading up on adderall and Red Bull, playing marathon games of "No Limit Hold Em" till 5am, they were watching poker on tv. In the same way that normal people watch...you know..REAL SPORTS. Everybody got to know the names of their favorite WSOP players in the same way everyone knows the names of Kobe, Lebron and D-Wade. Moneymaker. Helmuth. Phil Ivey. After watching enough WSOP re-runs, kids actually remembered "classic" hands in the same way we remember memorable plays from Super Bowls past.
Bro 1: "Dude amazing hand here with Helmuth and Ivey. Helmuth is pushing Ivey all in with two pair. No idea that Ivey has THE FUCKING FLUSH DRAW!!"
Bro 2: "Bro I remember this shit. Helmuth totally thinks he has him but then the on the river Phil flops the fucking King high flush!! CLASSIC IVEY!!
Yeah wow, that was exhilarating. Somebody hits the fucking flush on the river every week at our local poker game in the same exact manner. It is no amazing athletic feat for all to behold. Ivey's classic call on Helmuth in WSOP 07' is not akin to David Tyree's helmet catch in the Super Bowl. Ease off your boner losers. The saddest thing is now there are sports video games for poker (see above), where you can play as your favorite Poker stars on Xbox. WTF? Why would you play a poker video game?? The whole point of video games is to participate in a fantasy activity you couldn't normally engage in. Like working for the mafia. Or engaging in tank warfare. Or dunking on Yao Ming. Playing a poker video game is just like normal poker except you get to pretend you are Johnny Chan. God you're a fucking loser.
Look I'm not saying becoming a great poker player doesn't require some "skill." That "skill" however, is simply acquired by wasting more hours and hours of time participating in a leisure activity than a normal student or member of the workforce. Yeah I mean I could quit my job or skip class and fucking play Monopoly for 100 hours a week and become the best Monopoly player in the world. Does this make me an "athlete" worthy of being on ESPN? NO, because if I practiced playing basketball for 100 hours a week I would still have ZERO chance of making it to the NBA.
"Athletes" are physical freaks of nature born with vertical leaps and speed we couldn't dream of possessing. That's why we watch sports. We enjoy seeing people do things with a ball we couldn't dream of doing. Poker stars are simply losers who dared to destroy their social life or waste their parents tuition to sit around a table and play cards till the wee hours of the night. We could be just like them if we didn't aspire to..you know...be productive members of society. Fuck these assholes. Get them off my goddamn ESPN and bring on the 24 hour pigskin coverage.