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NBC, FCC coming to rescue our ears

JOHN C. COTEY
Published October 8, 2004

Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have destroyed sports television forever. With the utterance of one profanity, he proved that athletes cannot be trusted, are a danger to the minds and morals of our children, and should never be allowed on live television.

Role models? Hardly.

Every sports television event should be taped from here on out. If the race or the game is at 1, viewers should see it at 4 p.m. This will give the networks time to do their duty in sanitizing it so vile and classless English isn't foisted upon our children.

(I do worry, however, that with this extra diligence, networks may be distracted from producing the wholesome lingerie shows, wife swapping reality series and sex-soaked sitcoms that the family and I enjoy getting together to watch each night. But I digress).

Thankfully, to save the children and keep our virgin ears from such an awful word, NBC is coming to our rescue. On Thursday it announced it would use a five-second delay on NASCAR coverage similar to ABC's approach to Monday Night Football.

Take that, Junior, you heathen! "We're disappointed for our viewers to have to do this, but the delay provides a level of protection against anything inappropriate going out over the air," said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports.

(That's called rising to the challenge. I didn't see Junior swear, because I was too busy hustling the kids out of the room in case a Cialis commercial came on, but I can just imagine the emotional pain inflicted on millions.)

NBC isn't the only entity protecting us. Thankfully, the FCC is on the case as well, also announcing Thursday it would look into this awful scandal.

(That is reassuring, considering the way it brought Janet Jackson to justice for that millisecond she was exposed at the Super Bowl. Like 99 percent of those who watched and were unsure what happened, the FCC's monthlong investigation allowed us to review the horror in still shots sent out in many million e-mails. Thank you, FCC).

I for one will not just sit idly by while dirty words slip past censors. Junior may have thought he pulled one over on us, but he was wrong. Very, very wrong. I knew instantly what I would be writing, and I'm doing this for the children.

(There's a place for swearing, and it's on cable, not network television. Network television is for women washing their cars in their underwear and wetting themselves down on a commercial airing at 2:41 in the afternoon to promote Desperate Housewives, a new Sunday show. Not swearing.)

Sure, some will say this is an overreaction. That a fine is a worthy punishment, like it has been for many athletes caught swearing; that Junior shouldn't lose points; that the way sports are covered should be examined but not changed.

Please. Junior said a bad word. He needs to be punished harshly. It's hard not to completely agree with NBC and the FCC, which is always sensitive and protective about what viewers see and hear, especially kids.

(Now if you'll excuse me, there are two scantily clad women wrestling in a fountain while debating whether some frosty beverage tastes great or is less filling, and I don't think I've set my TiVo.)

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