Tuesday, July 13, 2010
By Joe Collins
I caught up with a group of friends a few days ago at the World's Largest Block Party in Chicago's West Loop. It's a Windy City midsummer tradition: spend 40, drink a few beverages, inhale a funnel cake or two, listen to a few bands and go home. And according to legend (or really savvy word-of-mouth marketing), singles are supposed to meet their soulmate at this street festival and then go on to get married at St. Patrick's Church -- the same church that happens to sponsor the fest. Isn't that nice? Most of the fest-hoppers in our group are in committed relationships anyway. I'm one of them. The "soulmate search" is a moot point. So the entertainment portion of the night usually revolves around people-watching. And let me tell you ... it is pure comedy. Cringing, trainwreck, pure comedy.
The World's Largest Block Party is eHarmony on steroids: too many people trying way too hard to make a positive impression on others (hey, I was also one of those people way back when). What's interesting is that you can spot the single people a mile away. They all stand together in groups, with their heads on a swivel like Charles Tillman dropping into a Cover-2 defense, planning to swarm Mr. or Ms. Right. By the time we saw the 1,000th girl with embalming-style makeup, choked on somebody's Axe Body Spray and heard the 1,000th "So, you come to this fest every year?" pickup line, we pretty much agreed that the people at the World's Largest Block Party -- and maybe the fest itself -- had jumped the shark.
(Note: I'm sure that most of you know what the term "Jump The Shark" means. It can be defined as, "the exact point when a person, place, thing or activity becomes uncool and loses all credibility and popularity and turns into a running joke." The term "Jump The Shark" came about from the TV sitcom "Happy Days", when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark in an episode. The show, arguably, had lost all credibility and was doomed from that point forward.)
LeBron James jumped the shark on Thursday. He tried too hard to make an impression and ended up looking ridiculous in the process. Miraculously, he jumped again over the weekend with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in that dry heave of a welcoming party. It was badly choreographed, mockable, tacky and reeked of Limburger. Seriously, the three of them walkingdancing on that catwalk looked like a bad Falco video.
But it's not the first time that an athlete has completely jumped the shark. When did your favorite athlete or hero jump the shark? Was it something they said? Something they did? Personobject that they dated? I came up with a short list of athletes that, at one point or another, have done something so completely ridiculous that they lost every shred of credibility. They went from being liked to hated ... or from liked to pitied. Or even tolerated to hatedpitied.
Terrell Owens (doing situps in his driveway)
Roger Clemens (leaving the Red Soxthrowing a bat at Mike Piazza)
Barry Bonds (any press conference from 2003-2008)
Roberto Alomar (the spit)
Ryan Leaf (Day 1)
Shani Davis (any interview from the 2006 Olympics)
Tonya Harding (the planned attack on Nancy Kerrigan)
Dennis Rodman (anything from the first hair change to today)
Milton Bradley ("What else you got?")
Adam Morrison (crying on the court)
Ricky Williams ("finding himself")
Joe Namath (either the 1974 pantyhose ad or the "I wanna kiss you!" comment does it)
Fuzzy Zoeller (comments about Tiger Woods)
Chris Pronger (to me, it was any postgame interview during the 2010 Stanley Cup Final)
Brett Favre (every summer for the past several years)
Bobby Knight (I know ... not an athlete per se, but once you throw a chair, you qualify)
John Rocker (the New York comments)
Allen Iverson ("talking 'bout ... practice")
Ron Artest (applying for a job at Circuit City trumps the Palace Brawl incident for me)
Shaquille O'Neal (the movie "Kazaam")
Mike Tyson (pick a moment, any moment)
Carlos Zambrano (see: Mike Tyson)
Sammy Sosa (the corked bat)
Any athlete that has admitted using a performance-enhancing drug
Any athlete that has run afoul with the law more than once (hey ... we all make mistakes, right?)
And that's an extremely short list. I could have put down a Fortune 500 list of crazy if I had the time.
Unfortunately, because of the TMZ'ified world we live in, all a player has to do is breathe improperly and they get branded as "shark jumpers." It's the price that they pay for living in the spotlight. We love building people up and love tearing 'em down.
A lot of people say that Michael Jordan jumped the shark ... repeatedly. He switched from basketball to baseball ... and back, he joined the Wizards and surlied his way through a Hall of Fame speech. But the vast majority of sports fans still love Michael Jordan. And that's the beauty of sports. Unlike TV shows, athletes can jump the shark multiple times. We're all suckers. We pay big bucks to see them in person. We put up with their attempts at music. We buy their jerseys. They dump us a few times. Or many times. But we come back. We always do. Being a fan of a sports team usually outlasts anything. It's for life. And watching what happens post shark-jump is just as entertaining as what happened beforehand.
Makes me wonder if the waters around South Beach are shark infested.
Or something like that.
Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.