Gazing through the warped lens of the empty whiskey glass, the Tennis Channel executive could no longer contain the anger.
“You assholes promised me. You promised me, it was a good idea…”
The other sports channel executives looked away in shame. This “happy hour” was a terrible idea, but the tennis exec had something else in mind.
“You, you NFL people promised you would broadcast nerf football games on the beach.”
The NBA exec began to squirm.
“And you… What happened to your grand plans to show 6th grade girls games played on a Little Tykes plastic hoop. The dunks will be incredible, mini-Giannis in pigtails, you said.”
In the long uncomfortable silence, the MLB channel exec was the first to make eye contact, but never got the chance to speak.
“Don’t start. You said in May that you were going to skip a few Cubs games and showcase a two-strike kickball tournament from Davenport, Iowa…
“Here I am, the only one who followed through.
“We need to attract a younger demographic, you all said. Compete with ESPN and their newfound fascination with Cornhole.”
The Tennis Channel gave 6 hours on a summer Saturday to “Pickleball”. A child’s version of tennis played with a whiffle ball and a short court. They dropped coverage of several men’s and women’s professional tennis tournaments to showcase a 15-year-old girl with her paddle in San Clemente, California.
“You know the worst part,” the tennis exec cried. “The worst part is the ratings went up.”
“That’s great,” the ESPN exec said. “That’s exactly what happened with drunken axe throwing.”
All at once, the other execs let out a chorus of obscenities and threats of shoving those axes into the most sensitive of orifices — sharp, metal head first.
They all hated ESPN. It could show whatever “sport” it wanted. College co-ed Spikeball, for fuck’s sake.
But golf, tennis, baseball, football, and basketball channels have to make up shit to talk about for 4-6 months a year. Football had to turn its own draft into a “sport” just to fill the gap between February and August.
Sure, ESPN has challenges. Stephen A. Smith has made a great living out of filling time with fake arguments over meaningless topics for months on end. But even when he runs out of gas, ESPN can switch to some bullshit like badminton or croquet.
But these sports channels are “tied” to their leagues. It’s not just ratings. It’s good of the game.
“You wouldn’t believe the hate,” the tennis exec said. “Sponsors were embarrassed. Mercedes wanted a refund. Rolex threatened to pull all of their ads for all time.”
National TV exposure just made the war for courts worse.
“Pickleballers started using clips of the broadcast to prove they belong on ‘tennis courts.’ I might have to testify in two trials in San Diego next month. They want to convert half the public tennis courts to pickleball.”
In a last act of contrition, the other execs ordered another round.
“I was going to go to all the Majors… Paris in the spring, London in the summer, New York in the fall, Australia in the winter,” the tennis exec said. “Have you been to Monte Carol in April? The red clay tennis courts next to the sea are as beautiful as the people…
“But if this shit continues, I’ll be off tennis and have to go to Casa Grande, Arizona for the summer Pickleball championships. Toothless, desert rats sweating and stinking in 110-degree heat.
I’ll be broadcasting indoor Pickleball from Gary, Indiana in February. A frozen sea of ‘spry retirees’ in sweatpants and snowshoes.”
The NFL exec offered a fresh glass filled with liquid forgetfullness.
“No amount of whiskey can drown out that awful thwacking sound when whiffle ball meets paddle.”
They all went quiet for a while. Lamenting the idea to make kids games out of their once great sports. Except the ESPN guy. He was headed to Pennsylvania to cover the World Series for Little League baseball.
Categories: Pickleball sucks