Column: Don't believe the hype about these sporting events
The sappy montage, the dramatic voiceover, the announcer breathlessly declaring that ''anticipation of football fans everywhere is at an all-time high.''
No one does hype like the NFL, and its annual draft is perhaps the worst offender of all.
For some reason, an estimated 70,000 people turned out Thursday night on the Ben Franklin Parkway to watch 32 names called out from a fake-foam backdrop of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in front of the actual Philadelphia Museum of Art.
It dragged on roughly as long as all the ''Rocky'' movies put together. At some point, we can only assume, the draft will begin right after the Super Bowl trophy is handed out and conclude when it's time to report to training camp - as long as it doesn't cut into wall-to-wall coverage of the pre-draft combine and the release of the NFL schedule.
With a nod to Public Enemy, don't believe the hype about these events, either:
OLYMPICS: Yep, we said it. The Olympics, that every-other-year smorgasbord of sports we don't pay a lick of attention to at any other point in our lives. Fencing, anyone? Who's up for some curling? But you've got to hand it to the bandits at the International Olympic Committee, who keep persuading cities to take on a lifetime of red ink and billions of people around the world eager to tune in for pingpong and an updated Esther Williams movie passed off as synchronized swimming.
NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: This is the day that otherwise normal, hard-working people fret, curse and celebrate over which high school kids will be playing football at their favorite colleges. Sure, recruiting is the lifeblood of the sport, but the fervor this event has taken on exceeds all logic, with nationally televised announcements and increasingly bizarre stunts. We're waiting for a recruit will make two mascots fight it out on live TV to determine where he'll be matriculating.
UFC: Speaking of fights, we are completely baffled by the bloodlust known as mixed-martial arts, which appeals to people who don't think boxing and hockey are quite violent enough. Nor do we understand how people keep falling for the con game that every card is somehow bigger than the last one. What are we up to now, UFC 10,438? It reminds us of professional wrestling, where every fight is nothing more than a setup for the next one. ''It's all going down Saturday night! At least until we get to next Saturday night!!''
NBA ALL-STAR GAME: This is basically just an excuse for a major traffic jam in whatever city is unfortunate enough to be chosen as host. All for an event that barely resembles basketball. A bunch of superstars take turns throwing down dunks while everyone stands around watching. When it comes to actual competition, this is a notch below the Harlem Globetrotters. Runner-up in this category: every other all-star game.
BASEBALL: It may come across as heresy to bring up the national pastime, but this is directed more at those who wax nostalgic about baseball being some sort of metaphor for faith, family and the American experience. This ridiculous myth was perpetuated by sappy writers and movies such as ''Field of Dreams.'' (''Build it, and they will come.'') Actually, baseball is just a game, and an increasingly tedious one at that.
THE MASTERS: When it comes to being full of itself, baseball doesn't hold a candle to the green jackets. Every spring, we're subjected to a soft, dignified voice that tells us the Masters is ''a tradition unlike any other.'' You'd think the hideously attired members of Augusta National invented golf, azaleas and fake birds chirping. Spoiler alert: They didn't.
FORMULA ONE: We love the concept - sleek cars racing at death-defying speeds all around the world - but this sport has become nothing more than follow the leader. There are never more than one or two teams with any chance of winning the championship. Last season, it was basically just a back-and-forth between teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, who combined to capture all but two of the 21 races. Yawn! A dishonorable mention goes to the Indianapolis 500, which hasn't included anyone we care about since Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt.
KENTUCKY DERBY: Quick, name any of the favorites in the 143rd Run for the Roses, which is just over a week away. Don't look at me, I have no idea. The Kentucky Derby is essentially a once-a-year excuse to wear silly hats and sip on mint juleps. At least it's all over in 2 minutes. Just make sure to avoid the 6 1-2 hours of pre-race coverage, which makes the Super Bowl telecast seem downright quaint.
SPRING FOOTBALL: More than 80,000 people turned up for a glorified scrimmage at Ohio State. At least six other schools drew more than 50,000 to their spring ''games'' (using that term very loosely). Surely they could've done something more productive, like cut the grass or clean out their garages. As they say in the South, there's only two seasons: football and spring football. Still, it's hard to fathom so many people wasting their time on this nonsense.
WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW: We already know the best dog ever (that would be Praline, my Chihuahua), so this competition is a complete travesty to begin with. The only thing that might redeem it would be Fred Willard serving as color commentator, reprising his character from the mocumentary ''Best In Show.'' As Buck Laughlin said of the bloodhound, ''You know what'd be funny ... put on one of those Sherlock Holmes hats and put a little pipe in his mouth.''
Now, that's some hype we could believe in.
Paul Newberry is a sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .