On the lyric nature of sports news

In 2000, I visited England. It was my first time abroad, and I fell in love. For a few years after that I sought any Anglo-centric media I could get my hands on, and it was a delight to discover the late night broadcasts of BBC World Service on Minnesota Public Radio.

What I remember most about that initial discovery was the hourly sports update. The speed of the broadcast seemed to double as a higher-pitched announcer rattled off score after score, a new language of sports from a country that focused on soccer and cricket instead of baseball and basketball.

Half of the words were unfamiliar; it seemed, with names of foreign sports stars sprinkled across the airwaves, to form a constant stream of new vocabulary. The rhythm of the news bounced along like jockey and horse, the cadence wrapping things up in a photo finish. It was mesmerizing – like hearing fluent Italian for the first time.

Which brings us to today. My vehicle has been radio-less since last year, and I’ve fallen away from my former sports radio addiction. So, while driving Kerrie’s car, I flipped it to our local sports channel and was pleased to discover the same rhythmic performance in American sports radio.

Baseball, basketball, tennis, golf – numbers and words, delivered in harmony, streaming through in a wave of information. I was hypnotized. I wondered what it sounded like to the sports illiterate. It must seem as though it’s the same foreign language I remember from BBC sports coverage – both exciting and confusing.

It never fails to capture my attention. The five minute Sportscenter update is more than an audible representation of box scores – it’s the embodiment of balance: each game with one winner and one loser, each positive story balanced with a negative, each foreign word paired with something familiar.

A chaos of information shaped into an almost-beautiful presentation of lyrical dexterity.

This was lovingly handwritten on August 7th, 2009