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BOOM TIMES
CHARLES P. PIERCE
August 23, 2004
Let's go back-back-back through 25 years with ESPN's Chris (Boomer) Berman, whose outsized enthusiasms have stamped his network, sports and television
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August 23, 2004

Boom Times

Let's go back-back-back through 25 years with ESPN's Chris (Boomer) Berman, whose outsized enthusiasms have stamped his network, sports and television

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Listen to me.... Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers and football players.

--Howard Beale, Network

We invited the thing into our living rooms, for the love of God. � We invited it into our living rooms, and there was a promise implicit that it would behave itself the way the rest of the furniture did. We invited it in there with the sectional sofas and the mahogany end tables. We put it there in the corner, big and square. We put the pictures of the kids on top of it, and all we asked was that it behave itself, and, for a while, it did. � It did what it was supposed to do, as dependable in its own way as the mahogany end tables. If anyone got too noisy, Paladin or Sergeant Saunders or Captain Kirk would whip out the Colt revolver or the tommy gun or the phaser-on-stun and demonstrate proper deportment to whatever rustlers or Nazis or Klingons came into our living room to make off with our cattle or invade our European allies or seize our tiny universes.

Elsewhere, politics was delivered by men with the voices of the Old Testament prophets and faces of Mount Rushmore. Chet Huntley. The younger Cronkite.

The flash, from Dallas, apparently official....

And sports was live grand opera in miniature. Mighty events brought to us by two dim cameras and described by people like Ray Scott, who occasionally even dispensed with verbs as extraneous ostentation unfit for the moment.

Starr ... touchdown.

Then, about 25 years ago, it changed on us. It started mainlining its sustenance, shooting up its programming instead of breathing it in from the sweet, clean breezes of the air. Then it started to misbehave. There were four channels full of Nazis, and Captain Kirk was on nine channels at once. Politics suddenly became the province of screeching vulpine harpies. The pictures of the kids began to shake. The sectional sofa became less comfortable. The mahogany end tables seemed less solid.

And sports?

Well, when the television began using the cable to shoot up, sports was the purest product it could find. Sports were everywhere, and so were their voices, which no longer dispensed with verbs but used them promiscuously, along with adjectives, adverbs and all manner of gallivanting orthographic fauna up to and including the lyrics to the collected works of Edison Lighthouse. And some of those voices--hell, most of those voices--were loud.

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