Sunday, December 27, 2009

FAREWELL TO GEORGE MICHAEL OF THE SPORTS MACHINE

It's Sunday night, so I am posting this at around the same time when a Sunday tradition for sports fans would normally air. It would usually be right after the late local news when you could catch the syndicated George Michael Sports Machine, hosted for many years by legendary Washington sportscaster George Michael. 

Michael died last week at age 70, not long after budget cuts at NBC ended that show and forced him into retirement from his longtime base at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.

He was a throwback to the days when local sportscasts and sportscasters dominated -- the pre-ESPN era. In fact, you used to see his highlights all the time locally. I remember so many of his highlights would turn up on local TV in Saskatoon, because his highlights used to be fed by NBC to stations throughout North America. Those were the days when local TV REALLY mattered.

Nowadays, you don't see as much of an effort put into local sports on TV. It is always the first place these news directors turn to for budget cuts, which is why Michael eventually had to retire. It's too bad, because I think fans still want to see local sports coverage on TV. But too many local stations seem to have this defeatist "we can't compete with ESPN" attitude for some reason.

A few reminisces of Michael's career are here and here, with lots of memories coming from former interns and underlings who cut their teeth under his watch at WRC. Reading those brought back memories for me of my time in sports television in the intern ranks. Fun times.

The show has been gone for over two years now, but the real sports fans out there haven't forgotten the Sports Machine. For one final time: here's a look at the opening of the George Michael Sports Machine. RIP George Michael. And that is all for now.

No comments: