I remember ABC’s Wild World of Sports from my childhood:
Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport!
The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat!
The human drama of athletic competition.
This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports!
– and not just because of the ski jumper:
The show featured sports not normally shown on American television. In the early 1990s ESPN spawned ESPN2. Originally intended to appeal to a younger demographic with non-traditional sports, I suppose there might have been a small inspiration by WWoS. I didn’t watch much ESPN2 (or ESPN), but if I did, there were a number of definitely non-traditional sports … lumberjack competitions, Professional Putters Association skins game, but the oddest “sport” was something back I saw in the late 1990s: a Magic the Gathering World Championship.
No. Really. I was surprised that there was (is) a MtG Pro Tour, and I also learned that the play by play is just as colorful as American football. You’d think that someone finally scored a goal in soccer at the 5:00 mark of this 1998 semi-final match:
And…I recently found out from my sons that there is such a thing competitive video gaming. Well, competitive video gaming that pays. Many different video games have world competitions. Major League Gaming has a goal “to elevate computer and console game tournaments to viable competitive and spectator events.”
This one is from something called League of Legends. Skip to the 43-45 minute mark to hear the excited play-by-play:
League of Legends is so popular that Robert Morris University in Chicago is offering 30 scholarships ($450,000 total) this year to field “three varsity teams and a few reserve squads.” I was naturally skeptical when my sons told me this, but as you can see here, it’s quite true.
Mental sports will never trump the NCAA stuff (at least not as far as television is concerned…they do in my book), but they make for interesting alternatives. Maybe there is something to my sons’ arguments all these years.