Saturday, December 26, 2009

Check, Please

The art and practice of presenting a big cardboard check to someone is cemented as a tradition around American sports. You see it on the 18th green at the conclusion of a golf tournament and in myriad other contexts not limited to but certainly prevalent around athletic endeavors.
I found myself signing big cardboard checks today. The employer is a significant sponsor of the Independence Bowl, a post-season college football game now in its 34th year in Shreveport. We award college scholarship money each year to two local high school seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to community service. The application process is tedious and the recipients are chosen by committee. The rewards include actual money paid to a college or university, tickets to the game and a live lunch-time presentation of the big cardboard check.
The students get a lot of attention. At the luncheon, both teams involved in the game are in attendance along with sponsors and interested ticket holders from the general public. The check presentation is part of a fake TV show which features actual network TV sportscasters Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman. Because I am comfortable in front of a TV camera, I am given the honor of doing the presentation. This year, the students were interviewed on camera not only by me, but also by an actual TV reporter from a local station. They're great kids. They deserve it.
As for me, sharing a moment of faux TV glory with network guys is fun in a Walter Mitty kind of way. Having long ago surrendered any hope of getting to that level as an on-air contributor, I'll take it.
Oh, by the way: I dish off the same little line every year about the big checks: "Careful. That thing won't fit into an ATM." Somehow, it always draws polite laughter. I know if somebody just handed me that kind of money, I'd chuckle at his little joke, too.

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