A glorious era came to an end this weekend with the final telecast of "The George Michael Sports Machine" on Sunday. The show, which aired locally at 12:05 on NBC (after the godawful, vastly inferior "Mike'd Up"), was hosted not by the guy from Wham! but by a Washington, DC-based sports anchor who served as the operator of the Sports Machine, which held highlights of the day's sports action. So when George Michael pressed the button with the football helmet on it--bam, you got football highlights. He presses the button with the ball and glove on it--you got your baseball action. What I wouldn't have given to have my own Sports Machine. Still would be pretty cool, but I'm not sure I have the room.
The show was one of the reasons I looked forward to summers when I was a kid. Though it aired too late for me to watch during the school year, summertime meant I could stay up late and watch the Machine. And sometimes Michael would even throw some pro wrestling highlights in, something other sportscasters wouldn't dare. And he did the wrestling stories as if wrestling were real, which, as a young kid, was just the approach you wanted to see. You didn't need to see some creep telling you how all wrestling is fake. Oh, shoot. That just gives me a reason to share the greatest TV clip ever. Pardon the diversion.
George Michael is no John Stossel. And that made him and his Sports Machine even cooler. Although, to be fair, the Sports Machine itself was way cooler than George Michael.
The last "Sports Machine" of the month would be the one to watch, as the Machine would spit out the plays of the month, routiinely the greatest part of any end-of-the-month sportscast. There'd be some good athletic plays in the Sports Machine, but there'd also be plenty of "wacky" stuff that was comedy gold for a preteen. And if an episode of "Bob Uecker's Wacky World of Sports" fell on the same weekend as the end-of-the-month "Sports Machine," well, that was just about a perfect mid-'80s weekend for me.
"SportsCenter" just annoys me most of the time, as the anchors dish out crappy jokes and tired catchphrases at the expense of actually, you know, focusing on the highlights and telling you what you need to know. But people seem to love "SportsCenter," and "The George Michael Sports Machine" is generally derided for its cheesiness and now no longer exists, so I guess I'm the dumb one here. I kinda figured that was the case anyway.
Godspeed, "Sports Machine." Summer Sunday nights will never be the same.