"We bonzoed after our set," Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili
Peppers told MTV recently, by way of explaining how the band
missed the mayhem that marred the last day of Woodstock '99. To
bonzo, as any roadie will tell you, is to fly out of town
immediately after a performance, in the favored style of Led
Zeppelin, whose drummer--John (Bonzo) Bonham--died in 1980 after
downing 40 measures of vodka and choking on vomit (his own).
Sports television, like rock-and-roll, is full of such
larger-than-life figures, people--and a few institutions--so
legendary that their very names have entered the lexicon. The
Civil War gave us Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, whose surname
and muttonchops inspired the word sideburns. But sports
television has given us many more coinages, including...
BEANO vb.: To make prognostications that are wildly off the
mark, and to do so with a convincing combination of affability
and gravitas, in the manner of Beano Cook, the lovable ESPN
college football analyst who shares his first name with a
popular brand of flatulence remedy. Hypothetical usage: "After I
beano, I've got to bonzo," Peter Gammons told his producer.
JACKLASH n.: A combination of whiplash (incurred while
attempting to follow the abrupt goings and comings of ABC
college football announcer Keith Jackson) and backlash (against
Jackson's returning to television after his seasonlong
valedictory tour of 1998).
MCCORDUROY n.: Fabric made from the stronger-than-hemp mustache
fibers of CBS golf analyst Gary McCord. (McCorduroy neckties,
conveniently, come pre-soup-stained.)
VANEARL DISEASE n.: A televisually transmitted affliction
compelling its carriers to deliberately mispronounce words and
phrases--"Los An-guh-leeze!"--with the high-decibel bombast of
Fox Sports News' Van Earl Wright.
SUPERSTATIONARY adj.: Of or relating to a person in a condition
of temporary paralysis caused by extended exposure to the
Atlanta Braves, a club that has won four National League
pennants and one World Series in the 1990s, during which time
the overwhelming majority of its games have been nationally
televised, and yet a team remaining--inexplicably--so
uninteresting as to render TBS viewers catatonic.
DANDELYONS n. pl.: Colorful, ineradicable summertime nuisances
that pop up frequently on Fox Sports, especially as in the case
of baseball analyst Steve Lyons, whose expert pronouncements
appear to float harmlessly into the ether, like dandelion seeds.
SAMNESIA n.: Short-term memory loss among sports directors and
editors, who temporarily forget the existence of all stories
save the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run race, which thus leads
every sportscast and sports section, regardless of the day's
NOTRE REPUBLIC n.: The United States of America, which is
annually treated to the national telecasting of every Notre Dame
football game, though the Fighting Irish have not finished a
season with a Top 10 ranking in six years or won a national
title since the Reagan Administration. (Cf. Superstationary.)
ARANOIA n.: Paradoxical paranoia that triggers belief in many
Notre Dame fans--my entire family among them--that the national
media intensely dislike the Fighting Irish.
THEISMANIA n.: Delusional psychosis suffered by TV and radio
announcers who profess to know what an athlete is thinking, as
when ESPN pro football analyst (and Notre Dame alumnus) Joe
Theismann begins a sentence, "Right there, Bledsoe is saying to
Now if you'll excuse me--before aranoids suggest that theismania
is another example of Irish-bashing--I really must be bonzoing.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: DAN PICASSO