ESPN Headlines -- Sex, Lies and Shrunken Testicles

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"I see trees of green ... red roses too I see em bloom ... for me and you And I think to myself ... what a wonderful world."

-- Louis Armstrong

Clearly, Louis Armstrong would have never made it as a sports fan in the year 2011. At least not on the afternoon of March 30, 2011.

A little background on how I decide what to write about each day: I finish my show at 3 p.m., I scour the internet for a story that (a) interests me and (b) for the sake of avoiding redundancy, may have not found its way onto my show (not always the case), and then I proceed to write about it for 300, 500, 1,000, sometimes a few thousand words.

Today, for some reason, I couldn't get out of first gear in trying to find something to write about. "Maybe it's because every story I'm finding is about some asshole doing assholian things."

Then, rather than paint everyone about whom I had skimmed a story this afternoon with the same assholian brush (I'm digging the word "assholian," if you can't tell), I decided to see if indeed today, March 30, was a day of inordinate deplorable activity.

ESPN.com has 11 headlines on their front page, always tucked neatly to the right-hand side. A glance at those 11 bullet points will typically give you a decent snapshot as to what is moving the needle on that particular day.

I'm here to tell you (and show you in the snapshot taken of the main page at 4 p.m. CST today) that March 30 is a day being dominated by deceit, excess and crime. If you're looking for a headline that involves anything on the field or on the court, I would suggest a three-day nap, because Saturday is the first day that I can assure you of any sporting event that will knock these gems or gems like them from their perch.

The 11 ESPN.com headlines serve as a stark reality check, a reminder of the unsavory underbelly of the sports world. Let's go in order:

"Painter turns down Missouri to stay at Purdue" Actually, of all the stories captured on the screen shot, this one is easily the most (only?) "feel good" out of all of them. Former Purdue guard leverages his alma mater into an eight-year extension; this is the one story that I really don't have a problem with. It would have been much cooler if the story were something about Matt Painter being the missing Baldwin brother or coming back to play Shane McMahon's evil twin at Wrestlemania, but whatever. More power to him.

(WARNING: It's all downhill from here...)

"Tressel apologizes for rules violations" A few weeks after explaining to everyone his reasons for not forwarding incriminating e-mails about his quarterback and a few other players trading their memorabilia for tattoos, Tressel holds a press conference to apologize for the violations. Again. Coach, if you're having to hold a second press conference to address exactly zero new allegations, you're probably not handling this correctly. Suspend yourself for three more games.

"Velarde says he got HGH from Bonds trainer" So pretty much everyone who has come into contact with Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds's trainer, has admitted that he knowingly gave them drugs and they knowingly took them to become better baseball players. All except Bonds, who apparently is one of a handful of athletes who are neurotically meticulous about every aspect of their game except the drugs they apply to their bodies. Makes perfect sense. Frankly, can we call a few more ex-mistresses of Bonds to the stand so we can hear more shrunken testes stories? That was more fun.

"BCS could cut ties with Fiesta Bowl" If you missed this story yesterday, the Fiesta Bowl fired its CEO John Junker for using Fiesta Bowl revenue to illegally reimburse some of his business cronies their political campaign contributions to him. On the list of shady things going on with bowl revenue, this is somewhere around 134th, but it's enough for the Fiesta Bowl to shitcan Junker and for the BCS to assemble a special task force to investigate the situation. Needless to say, if you've read Dan Wetzel's outstanding book Death to the BCS, then you know that this will be the most crooked task force since Stan Gable and Betty Childs headed up the task force to see who trashed the Tri Lambs house in Revenge of the Nerds.

"Crosby regular season return unlikely" Normally I'd say hockey stories don't count, but the fact that this is the best player in the game out for the rest of the season with a concussion, frankly it fits right in.

"Packers Jolly denied bond on drug charge" This one is right here in our backyard! Who said the Final Four and Shell Houston Open was all we had going in town this weekend? Johnny Jolly is in jail for the "purple drank!!!" Go ahead and assume he's now permanently suspended from the NFL; the question becomes how long he will be suspended from society.

"Clemens is eager to defend himself in court" Speaking of the Shell Houston Open, Roger Clemens was there caddying in the pro-am today! (Houston again, people!) I would say he met with the media, but he actually met with Mike (Greenberg) and Mike (Golic) on ESPN Radio. Calling an interview with Mike and Mike a meeting with the media is like rolling around in a litter of newborn kittens and calling it a safari. Softball batting practice for Clemens, who still looked completely uncomfortable and fidgety during the group hug of a conversation. Favorite nugget -- Clemens saying he wasn't paying any attention to Bonds's perjury trial, which means Roger is either incredibly stupid (if you were facing jail for the same thing someone else did, wouldn't you be curious what precedent was being set?) or incredibly arrogant (lock). Either way, reportedly, when actual media was trying to track him down Clemens ran to his car. "Rose: Blood test showed he was over the limit" It's funny because most of the time, you see a story with the name "Rose" and immediately assume that it's about Pete Rose. This is actually about Jalen Rose, who just finished an entire documentary and post-showing publicity tour bellyaching about how Duke wouldn't recruit guys like him, and then immediately goes out and shows...well, shows why Duke wouldn't recruit guys like him.

"Bucs' Talib turns self in on weapons charge" I'm all for a mother and a son doing things together. I think it fosters parental respect and family unity. Except when the activity in which they choose to partake is firing off a few rounds at their sister/daughter's boyfriend. That's not cool. But apparently, what I call "not cool" the Talibs call "Saturday night."

"Adviser: Cowboys Bryant will wipe out debt" Warning to any jewelers in the state of Texas looking to do business with Bryant. He likes nice things. He hates paying for them. You've been warned.

"U.S. Soccer: projecting the 2014 World Cup team" Um, it's 2011. I'll read this article the day before they decide the team.

I'm not big into the "How can I bring kids into this world," woe-is-mankind viewpoint. It's pessimistic. It's a shitty way to go through life. If you want kids, have them. I have three.

However, let this post be a word of warning to anyone looking to allow their kids to be sports fans. Someday, when they're old enough to surf the Internet, you'll have a bunch of questions you'll have to answer -- you'll have to explain shrunken testicles, strip clubs, bribery, DWI and why their heroes lie. It's not fun.

My kids are already fully invested in sports, so there is no hope for them. They're sunk. I can feel their IQs dropping with every new headline. But if this piece saved someone else's kid, then I feel like my work is done here. Something good has to come out of all this, right?


Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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