It’s nice to see that, in an era of multi-billion-dollar TV rights fees for sports, there is one thing that shall not be mucked with.
Even if that one thing is a slightly cheesy song.
Tradition is tradition, which means that One Shining Moment isn’t going anywhere. There had been fears that, with the NCAA men’s basketball championship moving to cable TV for the first time, Turner Sports might jettison the song.
Not a chance.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
We had a discussion with Turner about it and it was decided that’s something fans have become used to, and it would be a good and appropriate way to finish off the tournament as we have for the last 30 years.
Sean McManus, CBS Sports chairman
“We had a discussion with Turner about it and it was decided that’s something fans have become used to,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told USA Today, “and it would be a good and appropriate way to finish off the tournament as we have for the last 30 years.”
Plenty of people, like SB Nation’s Spencer Hall, loathe it. He called it “a depressive’s ode to basketball and a shut-in’s ode to athletic glory” and begged someone to “burn it. Please.”
He kind of has a point, but no one dares mess with it. “… It’s a piece of history,” Turner President David Levy told USA Today. “So we did a little tongue-in-cheek with Charles Barkley singing it. That gave the Turner flair while keeping it.”
That’s the kind of flair that the second-most important song in sports, next to the national anthem, can do without. Love it or hate it or endure it solely for the fabulous clips, the tournament wouldn’t be the same without it. And celebrate, for a moment, one other fact: somehow, the NFL narrowly managed to not get its mitts on the song.
“I had a dear friend Armen Keteyian who wrote for Sports Illustrated,” David Barrett, the song’s writer, told Vice Sports, “and the following fall, I sent him a cassette. Unbeknownst to me and out of the goodness of his heart, he knew the people at CBS Sports and he took it over there (to Doug Towey, the CBS executive who died in 2009). I guess it kind of blew his hair back.
“Doug called me and said, ‘Do you mind if we use it for the Super Bowl?’ I said ‘No,’ but after the game was over, the commentator just kept talking. They had everything cut up and ready to go, but they cut it for time. Needless to say, I was disappointed.
“Doug called me later and said, ‘We love this song, and it was written for basketball. We’d love to use it for the NCAA Tournament,’ which buoyed me, of course. It is exactly where it should be.”
And it isn’t going anywhere.