Can "Titletown" really be anywhere but Green Bay?
Let's call this what it is, before we even start the faux debate: Summertime "SportsCenter" filler.
Like the "Who's Now?" tournament that preceded it, ESPN's "TitleTown" competition is little more than something that'll eat up time between baseball highlights and non-NFL news while the Worldwide Leader in Sports waits for the Summer Olympics to kick off, training camps to open and pennant races to heat up.
And, the blog "Awful Announcing" poked fun of it awhile back.
And, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I've yet to see an actual segment.
All that said, it seems to me that ESPN's "competition" between cities for the "TitleTown" title is harmless fun. Of course, maybe I'm biased since they asked me to be one of the so-called "experts" who helped narrow down the finalists.
There were 32 other non-"SportsCenter" folks on the panel -- I'm guessing the votes from anchors Stuart Scott, John Anderson, Steve Levy, Jay Harris, Brian Kenny, Chris McKendry, Neil Everett, Scott Van Pelt, Josh Elliott, John Buccigross, Stan Verrett and Linda Cohn carried slightly more weight than mine -- and we each received a nifty binder via FedEx last month full of essays written by fans in the nominated cities.
Or, maybe, fourth graders in those cities. It was hard to tell.
Given the group I was working with -- Dallas Morning News NFL columnist Rick Gosselin is one of my mentors in this business, while a number of other respected columnists (Jim Litke, Gwen Knapp, Peter Schmuck, Terence Moore and Steve Kelley among them) were also involved -- I took the job seriously. I did manage to read all of the essays -- no easy chore -- and cobble together my top 25.
Apparently, I missed a few. Green Bay received a bye into the finals because, well, it's the original "Titletown USA." (Anderson, who'll take a break from "Wipeout" on ABC to host the ESPN crew when it came to Green Bay for the Fourth of July, wrote a column on behalf of his hometown.)
Of the other 17 cities that earned a visit from ESPN -- two others are yet to be determined, as far as I can tell -- four failed to appear on my ballot. Here are the finalists named so far, with my ranking for each of those in parentheses:
Boston (1), Gainesville, Fla. (2), Los Angeles (4), San Francisco (5), Chicago (7), Lawrence, Kan. (8), Palo Alto, Calif. (9), Ann Arbor, Mich. (10), Columbus, Ohio (11), Louisville, Ky. (12), Chapel Hill, N.C. (13), Pittsburgh (15) , Valdosta, Ga. (22), Parkersburg, W.V. (NR) , Knoxville, Tenn. (NR), Williamsport, Pa. (NR), Detroit (NR), Green Bay (NA)
I have to admit, I was a little surprised that my third-ranked city (New York), my sixth-ranked city (Lexington, Ky.) and my 14th-ranked city (Dallas) failed to crack the group. I was also disappointed that Baltimore, which I included solely because the essayist pointed out that it had the worst drug epidemic and highest murder rate in the U.S., failed to make the cut.
Not that I'm completely shocked by those omissions. What I really can't believe is how this silly exercise has stoked in me a measure of civic pride.
As a semi-resident of suburban Titletown U.S.A., I'll actually be disappointed when "SportsCenter" bestows the title upon Boston before resuming regularly scheduled highlight programming. Or "Wipeout," if you prefer.
MCBC | July 11, 2008 at 9:35 a.m. (report)
that is rediculous. Green Bay actually has more titles, and it shows how many the actually have when no team has caught them yet. No matter what Green Bay will always be Titletown in football fans hearts.
"...in the most important sport," bg, i would love to hear how you came to this conclusion!
Myke | July 10, 2008 at 3:51 p.m. (report)
Hello espn. There already is one.Green Bay has been "Title Town USA "(meaning PRO Football titles) by Divine appointment since Lombardi or sooner. This sham vote for a" title town" by ESPN won't even be remembered 5 yrs. from now,however Green Bay will always be know as the true TITLE TOWN USA.
bg | July 10, 2008 at 2:45 p.m. (report)
Yeah this is filler, but it is kind of silly that GreenBay calls itself Titletown when it only has one major sports franchise and no NCAA D1 championship winning schools. That said its no dumber than calling the NBA champions "World Champions" after the disaster that was the last olympic basketball tournament. At least GB does have a lot of titles in the most important sport, though most of them were earned before half of the current NFL teams existed. If the 'Titletown' moniker was actually important, my vote would probably be to give it to Boston.
Harmless fun, maybe, but also ridiculous, pointless, and an insult to Green Bay. While we're at it, why don't we also have a contest to see if Boston is really "Beantown" (according to my research, North Dakota and Michigan -- neither of which contain the city of Boston -- are the leading producers of dry beans in the US), NYC is really "the Big Apple" (New York State only produces 11% of the nation's apples, and I suspect roughly 0% of those come out of NYC, compared to 57% for Washington State) and St. Louis is really "Gateway to the West." ESPN just looks like a bunch of idiots because of this. Oh, and the ESPYs.
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