Online Sports Pages Score a Few Points By Adding Giggles

Uni Watch readers could compare Virginia Tech's football uniforms with a court jester's costume.
Uni Watch readers could compare Virginia Tech's football uniforms with a court jester's costume.

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By Frank Ahrens
Sunday, November 6, 2005

The best thing I read on the Web last week was the most recent version of the semi-regular Uni Watch column written by Paul Lukas on http://www.espn.com , posted on the Web site's irreverent Page 2.

Page 2 is another manifestation of the "E" in ESPN, which stands for "entertainment." The cable television goliath, owned by Walt Disney Co., which had to fill up its air time in the early '80s with Australian rules football and multiple rebroadcasts of college football games, has in recent years turned toward the more lucrative original programming, such as made-for-ESPN movies and series.

Likewise, ESPN's Web site -- once merely the one-stop shop for sports scores, stories and columns -- now has more fun with its subject matter, and is following the trend of merging sports with pop culture.

The benefit for sports fans is that sites such as Page 2 address peripheral elements of their favorite pastimes that have never shown up in their sports pages, thanks to un-fun editors who deem them silly. Because sports are the height of seriousness. Anyone who has ever seen a jockey's outfit or the Olympic track hop-skip-jump competition can attest to that. ESPN's Page 2 even sports a serialized novel.

This past week, Uni Watch ( http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=lukas/051031 ) took on the debut (and hopefully sole appearance) of the ridiculous new football uniforms sported by Virginia Tech and the University of Florida in their games last weekend.

Designed by Nike, they feature non-matching arm or sleeve colors and end up, as Lukas points out, making fine athletes such as Tech's Marcus Vick look like a harlequin.

The Uni Watch column is a fine example of what the Web can do that newspapers and magazines cannot. Throughout his column, Lukas includes hyperlinks to photographs of several uniforms, so you can see exactly what he's talking about as you're reading along, instead of having to look at photos elsewhere on the same page as a story. And comedy-wise, hyperlinks know how to deliver a punchline.

Over at http://www.si.com , Sports Illustrated expands it longtime front-of-the-book feature, Scorecard, and has a fun Campus section that links to blogs and includes reader e-mail.

CBS Sportsline's very good Web site ( http://www.sportsline.com ) counters with its SPiN page, which has similar off-the-sport features, reader polls and short, quick items. The SPiN site also aggregates sports-themed editorial cartoons and wacky or unexpected sports photographs.

Some sports sites do not even pretend to relay actual sports but only the peripheral material.

Take a look at http://www.sportscliche.com , which is exactly what it sounds like. Sponsored by a ticket sales site, Sports Cliches compiles and sorts cliches into a searchable and humorous database. The site has polled readers, asking which television announcers are the worst cliche offenders. (Respondents said Fox's John Madden in football and ESPN's Dick Vitale in basketball.) Too bad they didn't ask about baseball. Fox's Tim McCarver would've been a mortal lock.

Just Because...

...it's funny. Click on this: http://fury.com/images/weblog/google_circa_1960.jpg .


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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