Did you ring in the new year with Stuart Scott?
Sports is entertainment, entertainment is sports, so ESPN joined in for a New Year's Eve celebration. There was Scott, jaunty fedora atop his head, perched above Times Square, joined by Steve Van Zandt of E Street Band and Sopranos fame. (Parental warning about some of the language at Van Zandt's Web site.)
A short digression, if I may. One of my favorite newspaper mistakes -- and I can't even recall where it was after all these years -- was in a review of a Bruce Springsteen show. A reference to Van Zandt, known these days as Little Steven but earlier in his career with Springsteen's band as Miami Steve, apparently was changed by a helpful copy editor who added the possessive, making him Miami's Steve Van Zandt. Thanks for indulging me. Now back to the matter at hand.
So Scott joined the ranks of Regis Philbin, Carson Daly and Ryan Seacrest, introducing rockin' bands and the occasional sports content. Though ESPN used Scott, the host just as easily could have been any of its other personalities. (And, hey, how about trying this: a fake Times Square celebration with ESPN personnel jumping up and down on a set in Bristol?) We're far into the evolution of the sports star as rock star -- yes, evolution; no one is going to claim this as intelligent design -- where our popular athletes take on the trappings of any other celebrity. So associated "sports" programming and personalities meld with other kinds of TV offerings. For example, a while ago, the likes of Scott and Rich Eisen joined the crew on VH1's I Love the (insert decade here) snark feeding frenzy.
Soon, the ESPN show will become an ingrained part of New Year's Eve, just another stop on the remote-click tour. Just like sports shows end up being measured against not other games, but against sitcoms, dramas and news magazines.