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Slamming Samnesia
Steve Rushin
August 30, 1999
Our handy updated lexicon defines some afflictions spread by sports media
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August 30, 1999

Slamming Samnesia

Our handy updated lexicon defines some afflictions spread by sports media

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"We bonzoed after our set," Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers told MTV recently, by way of explaining how the band missed the mayhem that marred the last day of Woodstock '99. To bonzo, as any roadie will tell you, is to fly out of town immediately after a performance, in the favored style of Led Zeppelin, whose drummer—John (Bonzo) Bonham—died in 1980 after downing 40 measures of vodka and choking on vomit (his own).

Sports television, like rock-and-roll, is full of such larger-than-life figures, people—and a few institutions—so legendary that their very names have entered the lexicon. The Civil War gave us Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, whose surname and muttonchops inspired the word sideburns. But sports television has given us many more coinages, including...

Beano vb.: To make prognostications that are wildly off the mark, and to do so with a convincing combination of affability and gravitas, in the manner of Beano Cook, the lovable ESPN college football analyst who shares his first name with a popular brand of flatulence remedy. Hypothetical usage: "After I beano, I've got to bonzo," Peter Gammons told his producer.

Jacklash n.: A combination of whiplash (incurred while attempting to follow the abrupt goings and comings of ABC college football announcer Keith Jackson) and backlash (against Jackson's returning to television after his seasonlong valedictory tour of 1998).

McCorduroy n.: Fabric made from the stronger-than-hemp mustache fibers of CBS golf analyst Gary McCord. (McCorduroy neckties, conveniently, come pre-soup-stained.)

Vanearl disease n.: A televisually transmitted affliction compelling its carriers to deliberately mispronounce words and phrases—"Los An-guh-leeze!"—with the high-decibel bombast of Fox Sports News' Van Earl Wright.

Superstationary adj.: Of or relating to a person in a condition of temporary paralysis caused by extended exposure to the Atlanta Braves, a club that has won four National League pennants and one World Series in the 1990s, during which time the overwhelming majority of its games have been nationally televised, and yet a team remaining—inexplicably—so uninteresting as to render TBS viewers catatonic.

Dandelyons n.pl: Colorful, ineradicable summertime nuisances that pop up frequently on Fox Sports, especially as in the case of baseball analyst Steve Lyons, whose expert pronouncements appear to float harmlessly into the ether, like dandelion seeds.

Samnesia n.: Short-term memory loss among sports directors and editors, who temporarily forget the existence of all stories save the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run race, which thus leads every sportscast and sports section, regardless of the day's other events.

Notre republic n.: The United States of America, which is annually treated to the national telecasting of every Notre Dame football game, though the Fighting Irish have not finished a season with a Top 10 ranking in six years or won a national title since the Reagan Administration. (Cf. Superstationary.)

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