George Michael of George Michael's Sports Machine passed away this weekend. I didn't realize it growing up, because I lived in Michael's home base of DC, but his show was syndicated across the country pretty early in its existence. It was, towards the end of its run, a show many insomniacs across the country might recognize as the SportsCenter for people who could not afford basic cable. In fact, some younger readers may have only heard tell of the Sports Machine--with the rise of the Internets and the Cable, the Sports Machine wasn't as needed as it once was. But once upon a time, it was one of the Most Important Shows in the World.
For a kid of 10 years of age in 1984, with no cable to speak of, the Sports Machine was incredibly important to get a real dose of sports highlights at the end of each week. (Also, to be frank--an era in which ESPN was available, but showing things like The Championship of Duck Pin Bowling. Seriously. Kids, ask your parents)
The Sports Machine set was ridiculous throughout it's run. The motif suggested that Michael was somehow running a giant computer in which the highlights were stored. The cheesiness (which stayed throughout the run of the show) was something glorious to behold.
In a lot of ways, George Michael was a trailblazer in the development of sports highlight packaging. He was not the most entertaining of broadcasters; he was not my choice for my nightly sports reporting (that went to Glenn Brenner), but dammit The Sports Machine with Michael's weirdly wooden staccato delivery, low budget values, and often poor video was an important part of how I got sports delivered to me for a good chunk of my life (including times in my adult life when I couldn't afford cable, and discovered that the Sports Machine was available even in the frozen north of the Twin Cities.)
So thanks, and fare thee well, George Michael. On behalf of kids in the DC Area (and sleepless drunks everywhere else) thank you for the Sports Machine. Let's Go the Videotape!