July 20, 2014 in Sports

ESPYs a welcome escape from reality

Chris Erskine Los Angeles Times
 

So much of life is plain ugly, but then you run across something genuine and serene. Yes, it’s the ESPYs I’m talking about.

When did athletes start dressing like Elton John and Lady Gaga? And what would Ted Williams say?

Oh. There’s Russell Wilson in a tie and conservative dark suit. What does he think he is, an adult?

First impressions? This red carpet is moving slower than an Idina Menzel national anthem.

A red carpet in July is much like the two-a-days you used to have in high school. Not everybody makes it. Women have given birth in the time it takes to walk this gantlet.

An hour in, I look like the night manager at an iHop in Short Pump, Virginia. Maria Sharapova either sneaked by me or melted directly into the ESPYs red carpet.

My own winners Wednesday night:

Most legendary: Jim Brown

Best reception: Members of the U.S. soccer team.

Sexiest: Pro surfer Hannah Cornett.

Blingiest: Stevie Johnson.

Weirdest: Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Coolest doctor: Julius Erving.

Best moment: When Jim Brown hugged Michael Sam.

Yeah, sure, it can be unsettling how much we deify these athletes, but they always seem willing to make a mockery of themselves, don’t they?

And I don’t mean that in a mean-spirited way, only that they take themselves less seriously than the fans often do. Maybe that’s a relief.

Really, what these awards salute is ESPN’s trademark irreverence. Last thing I’d want is a 24-7 sports network that treated everything as if it were “60 Minutes.”

What’s left to say about all this? It’s a divine excess, really, this giving of awards to people who already are among the most-rewarded people on the planet. The new royalty. We used to have war heroes, and now we have sports stars.

If it all seems specious and vainglorious, so be it. In the end, they’re just ballers. If they’re overcompensated and a little too worshiped, that’s our fault more than theirs.


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