Sports You Never Knew You Needed Until Now

In order to combat the ongoing universal sports vacuum in the wake of all current Coronavirus cancellations, I suggest we alleviate our sports action cravings by ingesting a prescribed, yet unorthodox, and extemporaneous apothecary of sports video footage.

This constellation of obscure ideas and new fasciations came together after I realized that to forever evolve my sporting consumption habits is maybe the only, if not the absolute best way I can obliterate the inherent withdrawal symptoms and suffering from losing my old observational patterns. In short, I had to renew my perspective by inventing and indulging quixotic notions of what defines entertainment.

I have entitled my exploration’s top discoveries, “The Bootleg Sports Drought Cure.”

This three-part assortment is nothing special. It’s a little slapdash. And potential payoffs from these video suggestions have a ceiling of stimulation not even close to the mammoth hype one believes will inevitably arise during the Final Four; or the rush of optimism the northwest faithful stockpile during the first month of every Seattle Mariners season. The M’s were 13-2 through fifteen games last year.

But I hope these spangled bursts of old video footage combined with these gems of stirring athletic language help you bypass your indefinite quarantine boredom nonetheless.

With that, let’s take the weird plunge.

Part 1 – Rewatching the inaugural and abbreviated XFL season’s games just to hear the mellifluous slurred gibberish and yet thrilling transcendence of the game broadcast’s offensive play calling.

The XFL’s motto was, “For the love of the game.”

This league was for the craven football nerds in one’s life. The XFL delivered football nerds a professional spring league that finally felt compelling. We all wanted it to work out. Rule changes were just the first of many great ideas. But I know we never fully expected parts of every broadcast to become something of an illustrated Madden playbook. It was as if the blind, millions of fans and viewers, could see the light. (Poetry in motion?)

There has been so much exuberant secrecy surrounding the typical cache of NFL play calls that I was stunned when I heard Jim Zorn’s zippy, quirky and wild monikers fly at all his players and come barreling in crystalline radio flurries from my television in real time, all of what soon became a phenomena akin to onomatopoeic code words hurled during the first Seattle Dragons touchdown drive. These same jargon-y collision play calls, on second viewings, especially those before  touchdown passes, seem like the front end slew of one major trend-setting and gorgeous metamorphosis.

I know I am not the only XFL fan who wants more offensive play calls broadcast in real time. These freewheeling militaristic slang blast waves of rigorously articulated and symbolic codes that denote complex pass patterns, blocking schemes and the optionable backup moves for the backfield after the rush is defended are always flat-out exhilarating to overhear from any couch.

On revelrous review, other highlights from the broadcasted play calls include former Panther and future Seahawk TE, Greg Olsen, commenting wisely and also in some ways contend with Tony Romo’s legendary offensive play calling and line of scrimmage decoding skills.

Only one shall remain in the broadcast booth next season. But listening to Olsen decipher inbound play calls from offensive coordinators made me feel Olsen was part spirit guide, second part crash course, and part simplified Ted Talk crossed with a Rosetta Stone erected on the fly.

Even though Olsen’s analysis was imperfect when juxtaposed with Tony Romo’s savant decoding declarations, I got goosebumps listening to Zorn’s pure sonic bombast demystified.

Far-fetched fantasy, I know, I still wish the NFL would give fans a dose of these real-time calls because listening to Zorn repeat codes and hyphenated actions while Olsen’s breviloquent explanations modified the slang, as it all soon became the equivalent experience of sitting inside the pressure packed nozzle on a spray paint can while the zaftig rollercoastering whirls and loops the Dragon players ran fastidious morphed the total experience into a vibrant noise akin to the choreography of neon graffiti.

Seriously, try it out. Listening and watching Zorn bark, “Trips-Right-Twenty-one-A-Dancer,” while covering his microphone, even though we can hear him at home, is as fun as it sounds.

Part 2 – Selecting one’s future and illimitably vicious and undying English Premier League allegiance based on the flash and swagger of one’s affectionate response to archival game footage alone. Tip: don’t overcomplicate the allegiance. Have fun. Exuberant imagination is key.

For this, I’ve selected Arsenal. The London juggernaut’s undefeated 2003-2004 season is my favorite source of soccer highlights.

Not only are the wild and huge and flag-like sleeves of their bright red kits fun to see flash across the screen like the climax fight scenes of laser-shot slurry in “Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones.” But Arsène Wenger’s aggressively barbed free flowing improvisational formations are far superior than any other legendary side when viewed in the nostalgia format, and with no prior allegiance in play.

Wenger’s squad is superior entertainment when juxtaposed with my runner-up pick for highlights and allegiance, the drowsy and finicky – although arguably greatest run of teams of all time: the 2008-2012 “tiki-taka” Barcelona squads; because even if I must award credit where credit is due, a semi-soccer ignorant man (me) swiftly realizes these subtly outrageous dancing sides – lead by Josep Guardiola who got Messi, Xavi and Iniesta at their amalgamated peaks to buy into his system – only ever play something like a hybrid of slow burn bullfighting and barefoot basement beachball trickeration, while their game faces suggest they believe the pitch is no more complicated than life at the beach.

If one team is too hard to select, pick an entire league season’s highlights to watch. For this I prefer the English Premiere League for the fandom’s bizarre banter and grudges. The Youtube video comment sections for the Arsenal highlight videos host an excellent collision of multi-lingual smack-talking. I have not utilized Google translate this often since I nearly flunked my high school French classes.

From thirty thousand feet, I believe that in order to capitalize on this soccer club allegiance activity, one try extra hard not to glory chase in the modern era, and instead pick an older champion side to support. Therefore, as a new, indefatigable Arsenal fan, I implore you to not pick Chelsea or Manchester City, or the newest Premier League dreadnaught, Liverpool, because this whole exercise is about capitalizing on nostalgia one has been completely missing until now.

Finally, Arsenal is exciting to watch because as one alleged Gunner fan, The Toad, commented on one video, “I will never tire of watching Henry make Hamann and Carra look Sunday league.” I don’t exactly know what that means, or what’s happening on any legendary pitch, but I like the vibe.

Part 3 – Indulge alternative sports and irregular sports outlets because you finally have the time.

This option is self explanatory. I’ll keep it brief. So far, my favorites this spring have been the 2019 Spikeball National Championship. I found it on ESPN 8, “The Ocho,” which hosts content like competitive electrician events, dodgeball and axe throwing. If you have cabin fever, I swear, just watch it, because this is worth your time. My last recommendation comes from a local source. There is a compelling ESPN documentary about a speedy, sleek and yet muscular Olympia, Washington whippet named, Spitfire. This story is as impressive as his hyperbolized nickname, “The Michael Jordan of dogs.”

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About Jackson Pappin 51 Articles
Jackson Pappin is a freelance writer. A 2018 WSU Edward R. Murrow College of Communication alumni, he writes fiction, journalism, columns, essays and poetry. His work has been published in Anastamos, The Oregonian, The Spokesman Review, The Seattle P.I. Reader Blogs, The Daily Evergreen, The Central Circuit, LandEscapes and at the Spectra Art Gallery. His writing is available at