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ABC to replace “Monday Night Football” with “Monday Night XC”

In a shocking development, ABC has exercised an option to suspend their contract with the NFL this coming season.  Citing the universal spectator appeal of long distance running and market research suggesting that women find scantily clad distance runners far sexier than athletes in any other sport, ABC will drop its popular “Monday Night Football” and replace it with a “Monday Night Cross Country” program throughout the fall.  Covered meets will vary in size and geographic location to appeal to a wide audience.  Although cross country races typically have been run on Friday or Saturday mornings at small venues, ABC has agreed to provide lighting and more seating capacity (for the huge expected fan turnouts) if cross country athletes agree to sign autographs and appear at press conferences (which will be open to all media representatives, not just those from ABC) after the race.


Not all teams have been flexible though, and many, including perennial top-three teams Stanford, Arkansas, and Colorado, have refused to race on Monday nights, claiming the early-week races may distract their runners from the rigorous academic demands they face.  Skeptics contend that the absence of cross country powerhouses will dilute the quality of the featured races and hurt Monday Night Cross Country’s chance of success.  Replying to the cynics, one source at ABC said, “We don’t need Colorado, Stanford and Arkansas to make this work.  Cross Country is so inherently fascinating to the general public, we could show high school races and achieve a higher Nielson rating than E.R. [currently the show with the most viewers].”


Although the schedule remains undisclosed, ABC officials are rumored to be wooing Harvard, Yale and Princeton for rights to televise the famed H-Y-P meet.  The Princeton coach, Mike Brady, who two years ago skipped the meet in favor of the more competitive IC4A meet, said the Princeton team would once again compete in the H-Y-P’s, mentioning tradition and the improving programs at Yale and Harvard.  An inside source asking not to be identified suggested Brady’s true motivation is the “opportunity to play golf with new Yale coach Danny Ireland and new Monday Night Cross Country play by play man Al Michaels.” (In a related development, Monday Night Football color commentator, Dennis Miller, will be replaced by the popular and knowledgeable Carol Lewis, who has long graced American track and field fans with her brilliant insight.)


Meanwhile, cross country programs around the country are drueling in anticipation of the bonanza of cash soon to be flowing in from ABC.  Although Princeton remains coy about using its expected take to fund an England-Ireland trip similar to those taken by other Ivy League schools, equipment manager Hank Towns hinted at future increases in the budget: “The guys will at least get to keep their sweatshirts and jockstraps at the end of the year instead of having to return them.”  Apparently some programs have already secured advances on their lucrative contracts.  Several members of the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse (Lacrosse the city, not the sport) Cross Country Team—Dave Cisewski, Tyler Foos, and Dan Sutton—have been spotted cruising campus in late-model foreign luxury sedans.  Looks like college distance runners will be joining basketball and football players under the media microscope, but that will only increase their appeal.

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