With naked delight we announce today the downsizing of sports, which have become more bloated than Bill Parcells and about as much fun. Effective immediately, then, we'll shorten everything by half—hockey season, Shaquille O'Neal, Tiger off the tee—in the interest of making it all interesting again. Baseball games will henceforth be abandoned after three hours because, frankly, I do care if I ever get back. I have to work in the morning.
See, life is short and sports are long. Who has the time? Couldn't we all get by with an Indy 200? Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo: Your new name is Mel Ott.
The hourlong SportsCenter shall immediately be abbreviated to 45 minutes. Instead of airing 11 times a day, as it frequently does now, the program will run a mere 10 times daily. I have just added, at no cost, three and a half hours a day to your life. Use it, my friend, to learn Italian, to paint your basement, to get a life.
The Super Bowl halftime show—a tasteful medley of fireworks, fly-bys, Flying Wallendas, white tigers, Jesse White Tumblers, confetti cannons, Carrot Top, Britney Spears and Bud Light Daredevils—shall, from this day forward, consist of one act: a guy on a unicycle playing a kazoo. The game itself? New league rules will require every offense to be No-Huddle, every defense, Prevent.
Because sports, collectively, are buckling beneath their own ponderous weight. How about a hiring freeze on hype? Superlatives shall be rationed at the rate of one a decade. The time has come to call things what they really are. I give you the Shot Heard Round the Block. Fists of Calcium Compound. The Seven Blocks of Carbon.
Sports journalism, it pains me to say, is often just an exercise in exaggeration. No longer. Muhammad Ali's new nickname, then, is Among the Greatest. Would it kill fans to wave, at college bowl games, oversized novelty foam-rubber hands that have two (or even three) raised fingers? Not every canyon is Grand, not every lake is Great—except in sports, where every year serves up an event that is One for the Ages. But it's all a mirage. Expansion and steroids, the dual airbags of baseball, have detonated with deadly force, leaving record books and players artificially inflated, like Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor.
Thank goodness that baseball, alone among major professional sports, has floated the concept of contraction. Let owners euthanatize the Florida Marlins, the Montreal Expos and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays—please!—but let us also remove three teams each from the NBA, NHL and NFL. Let us remove every other sport from the Olympics. Let us remove one of Dennis Miller's vocal cords and feed it to hyenas.
Let us remove, above all, any archaic legal barriers that still prohibit us from torturing the men and women who choose the music—and decibel level—for NBA arena sound systems. Mephistopheles, summon your chambermaids to prepare for these people a special suite in your dominion, where they shall have to hear, for all eternity, C+C Music Factory's Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).
It isn't too late to simplify, simplify. Whoever let the dogs out can call them back in. The time has come to strip sports of their self-importance. Imagine a world free from our most ridiculous football coaches, with their 17 assistants, their drive-thru-at- Hardee's headsets, their highway-patrol escorts. Envision a paradise bereft of the pestilence of "big-time" basketball coaches, who have turned the final two minutes of every game into the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.
Americans are entitled to an NBA season that is guaranteed to end before Father's Day. (So are NBA players, for whom that holiday can be complicated enough.) So let's get small. Let's get sports, metaphorically speaking, off androstenedione. We'll give the Goodwill Games to Goodwill. We'll try, for just one year, a Tour de Rhode Island.