The latest NHL television contract in Canada affects the legendary Hockey Night in Canada, the most famous sports show in that country's history. And it got me thinking about legendary sports shows in the United States. What are the most famous, the most iconic sports shows in American history? Here's one opinion.
Monday Night Football
This became a national phenomena in the 1970s, mostly because of the announcing team of Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and "Dandy'' Don Meredith. Some 43 years later, the game doesn't quite have the same hold as in the '70s, but just the words — Monday Night Football —are deep-rooted in every football fan.
Wide World of Sports
This weekend staple spanned the globe to bring viewers the constant variety of sports, whether it be ski-jumping, barrel-jumping or cliff diving. And it showed the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat from 1961 to 1998.
Even a casual sports fan cannot get through an entire day without flipping over to ESPN to catch a few moments of the most famous sports news program in history.
It has only been around for a short time, but this uncensored HBO behind-the-scenes reality show of NFL training camp is hypnotic and completely fascinating. It never gets old to hear what coaches and players say while working.
Bowling for Dollars
Every city had bowling for dollars. Bunch of Regular Joes saying hello to the wife and buddies down at work before having a chance to throw two strikes for a pot of money. I'd watch that show again tonight, wouldn't you?
NBC Game of the Week
Major League Baseball's Game of the Week dates to the 1940s and still is on today on Fox. But today, the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week is just one of about 20 games you can watch through the week even if you have basic cable. In the good old days, the NBC Game of the Week of the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s, back when you heard announcers such as Joe Garagiola, Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, Vin Scully and Bob Costas, was must-see TV each Saturday during the summer.
ABC's Monday Night Baseball
Again, this was one of the rare times fans could watch a game involving out-of-market teams. Howard Cosell made it almost as fun as Monday Night Football. Lasted from only 1976 to 1985.
ABC's Pro Bowler's Tour
Hosted by the incomparable Chris Schenkel from 1961 to 1997, this show was at its zenith back in the 1960s and early 1970s, and the ratings were solid as a bowling pin. It's also one of those shows that you didn't watch every single time, but it was comforting to know it was on, even in the background.
Coming live from the college football game of the day, ESPN has put together, for my money, the best pregame show in the history of sports television.
Notre Dame Highlights
Back before SportsCenter and ESPN and a thousand college football games on TV every Saturday, you could watch a Notre Dame football game in an hour over your Sunday morning coffee. It aired for most of the 1970s, and those who watched it can still hear announcer Lindsey Nelson saying, "After an exchange of punts, we move to action later in the third quarter.''
News of the week
Huge news in Canada last week when Rogers Communications struck a 12-year, $5.2 billion (Canadian) to carry the NHL. The deal goes into place next season. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. will continue airing Hockey Night in Canada for at least the next four years, but Rogers will have all editorial control, including personnel decisions. Does that mean longtime and controversial analyst Don Cherry will be out? Quite the contrary. It's believed Cherry is loved by those who run Rogers and Cherry could end up being on even more than just Saturday nights.
CBC takes a bit of a hit, losing editorial control as well as all advertising revenue from HNiC. But the biggest loser in the deal? Canada's TSN, which is essentially the ESPN of Canada. It will see its NHL rights end after this season. It will still have some regional coverage of certain Canadian teams, but it's hard to be the ESPN of Canada if you don't have national rights to the country's national pastime. There are already rumors that some of TSN's top hockey talent, such as analyst Ray Ferraro and insider Darren Dreger, could look to leave for another network, such as NBC.
• Play-by-play announcer Chris Myers and analyst Tim Ryan will handle today's Bucs-Panthers game on Fox.
• TV ratings for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series were about the same as last year. An average of 5.8 million viewers watched the broadcasts across Fox, TNT and ESPN/ABC.
• NBC announced that Sal Masekela will be a sports desk reporter for the network's coverage of the Winter Olympics. Masekela is the longtime host of the X Games for ESPN and is an authority when it comes to such events as snowboarding and free-skiing.
Three things that popped into my head
1. A two-way tie for Cheater of the Week: Nets coach Jason Kidd for "accidently'' spilling a drink on the court to get a timeout and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin "accidently'' getting too close to the field on a Ravens kickoff return. Come on, guys, you're better than that.
2. Doesn't it seem like Josh Freeman hasn't played for the Bucs in like two years?
3. Favorite joke of the week, this one from NBC's Jay Leno: "The UN announced that by the year 2100, the earth will have 11 billion people. Imagine that, 11 billion people and, still, the Cleveland Browns can't find one to play quarterback.''
tom jones' two cents