Do not deScrabble your TV

Just imagine for a moment the future of sports in America.

In the future, your ability to become rich and famous through competition will no longer be based on your strength, physical prowess or athletic ability. Instead, anyone will be able to become famous, be on ESPN and make a good living without ever having to run a mile or throw a pass. You can simply be good at anything people can compete in.

How do I know this will come to pass? Well, you can see that it's been happening slowly for a while now. Poker on television is getting better ratings then hockey did, and that includes poker reruns. The National Spelling Bee has been broadcast for many years in a row now, and everyone has seen the kid fainting while trying to figure out how to spell some word NO ONE has ever heard of.

Yet it all came to a head on Monday afternoon, when I watched, I swear to you, the National Scrabble Championships on ESPN2 with Lon McCarron announcing.

I couldn't turn it off.

It was a surreal experience. There were announcers speaking in baited breath, computers analyzing what the best words to play would be and two competitors that apparently are at the top of their game. Yet, everytime I got too into it, I had to remind myself: "Jordan, you're watching Scrabble. It's not even fishing!"

Then I realized that I wasn't watching something filmed to fill some afternoon timeslot. I was witnessing the future. Sure, all the athletic sports like football, baseball and basketball will still remain popular, but they're going to have to share the stage with these new guys. "SportsCenter" will cut from some college basketball game to highlights of a big-money Chutes and Ladders competition, and checkers results will be added to the ticker at the bottom of the screen. People may not see it coming, but in some respects we're already there.

Last year the film "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" grossed nearly $120 million, more revenue than any NHL team probably grosses in a month. Walk around any dorm at AU at night, and chances are someone's playing Texas hold 'em. It makes sense. Sure, people will still love big-time athletes who can do things fans have never seen before, but deep down we all want to be famous. With these opportunities opening up, now anyone has a chance to do that.

Of course, some people tell you "anyone" can be a professional basketball or football player, but ANYONE can be a professional "Life" player. These are opportunities for all of us to realize a dream.

But it may not be all as glorious as I make it out to be, because there will be some side effects. Say you have a son or daughter who spends more time at the end of the bench, seems uninterested in any athletic pursuit and genuinely wants to be left alone, while you have dreams of a big house in Florida paid for by your superstar son or daughter's athletic career.

Well don't fret; just take the kid inside and sit him or her down at the Scrabble board. Just because he or she has no athletic talent doesn't mean you can't be that controlling and bossy sports parent you've always dreamed of being. Make the kid memorize the Scrabble dictionary, sleep with the board under his or her pillow, wake up with the crowing rooster, and be told that he or she has 10 seconds to give you three words using the letters G, A, D and N or you won't love him or her anymore.

This sports future may be wonderful and fascinating. But it may also mean that kids with athletic talents aren't the only ones who will be doomed to miserable childhoods spent at competitions or in minivans traveling to or from competitions. I can't wait.

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