'ESPN8: The Ocho' to replace ESPNU — if only for a day

ESPN8: The Ocho lives.

The parody sports outlet that boasted “If it’s almost a sport, we’ve got it here” in the 2004 Vince Vaughn-Ben Stiller comedy and late-night cable staple “DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story” has inspired a one-day rebranding of ESPNU beginning at 11 p.m. Monday.

Just as in the movie, where ESPN8 treated dodgeball matches as an even bigger deal than NBA summer league games, ESPNU’s version of The Ocho will showcase competitions not often given national television exposure.

Look for “the finest in seldom seen sports,” such as disc golf, trampoline dodgeball and arm wrestling.

What makes the ESPN8 tie-in so shrewd – beyond the fact Tuesday is Aug. 8 or 8/8 – is it’s infinitely more interesting than branding the offerings, say, Junk Sport Tuesday, which would cover it as well.

Running something along the lines as the 2017 Championship of Bags, a cornhole tournament, already has shown a glimmer of promise, however.

One weekend last month, Saturday cornhole coverage on ESPN2 last month did surprisingly well among viewers between the age of 18 and 49, according to sportsmediawatch.com. The website tweeted the beanbag competition outdrew Major League Baseball on FS1 and TBS, the WNBA All-Star Game on ABC and the final stage of Tour de France on NBCSN in that demographic.

Regrettably for fans of “DodgeBall,”  it’s doubtful even the 2016 WFTDA Roller Derby Championships, Firefighters World Challenge XXV or U.S. Open Ultimate Championship will have announcers on par with Gary Cole’s Cotton McKnight and Jason Bateman’s Pepper Brooks from the film.

It was The Ocho’s McKnight who touted the climactic Las Vegas dodgeball tournament as “a sporting event greater than the World Cup, World Series and World War II combined.”

In fact, nearly everything on ESPNU/ESPN8 plans to carry already has run at some point on some ESPN platform.

The one exception is The Moxie Games, which is said to marry different sports into one unique sort of game, slotted for Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Examples cited by ESPN, in its ESPN8 announcement, included combining martial arts and volleyball, table tennis and soccer, and dodgeball and juggling.

Juggling, however, is generally seen as more of a skill or an art form than a sport, like calligraphy or ventriloquism.

Among the most unusual offerings is the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup Final at 7 a.m. Tuesday. This features a team contact sport from India that requires a so-called raider to tag as many opposing players as possible and return to his team’s zone in a single breath.

Considerably less uncommon are darts and esports (aka video games).

The complete schedule for ESPNU’s ESPN8: The Ocho is as follows, all times are Central:

  • 11 p.m., Monday, 2016 American Disc Golf Championship
  • 1 a.m., Tuesday, 2016 WFTDA Roller Derby Championships
  • 3 a.m., 2016 Sky Zone Ultimate Trampoline Dodgeball
  • 4:30 a.m., Firefighters World Challenge XXV
  • 7 a.m., 2016 Kabaddi World Cup Final
  • 8 a.m., World Darts Championship
  • 10:30 a.m., Arm Wrestling: Best of WAL 2016 Championship
  • 11:30 a.m., 2017 Championship of Bags
  • 1:30 p.m., EVO 2017 World Championship – Street Fighter
  • 4 p.m., Moxie Games
  • 6 p.m., U.S. Open Ultimate Championship

philrosenthal@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @phil_rosenthal

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