My morning routine rarely varies: at 6:20 my alarm goes off, disturbing whatever lucid/lurid dream I was experiencing and sending me into an expletive-rich tizzy fit; by 6:40 I am showered and groggily yelling for my impossibly slow coffee maker to go faster at churning out my caffeine fix; at 6:55 I check my stocks (not IPOs: I have Medieval torture devices in my basement); and at 7:00, coffee splashed with tears of appreciative joy, I sit in front of the television to “embrace debate” with a dose of First Take on ESPN 2. Then, by 7:15 a.m., l am so noticeably dumber that I forget about breathing and actually catch a few more hours of quality sleep in a miniature coma brought on by near-asphyxiation. It’s a vicious cycle.
For those unaware because they are smart enough to avoid dreadful television, First Take is ESPN2’s morning debate show featuring hostess Cari Champion and two bumbling buffoons with loud voices.
Their sports debates are not only timely (who doesn’t want to talk about Tim Tebow in March?!) but they’re also timeless, certain to remain firmly rooted in the zeitgeist with the same permanence as spongmonkeys and O-Town. The show functions under the principle that faux-animosity is equivalent to logical argument, as Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless bluster for three hours because, hey, that’s a lot easier than providing any semblance of coherent, rational talking points. In short, First Take is to the art of rhetoric as Kanye West is to the art of not devolving into an embarrassing caricature.
“Well if you dislike the show so much,” you may say, reeking of unearned smugness like a college freshman, “then why continue to watch it?” Fair point. The thing is, much like voting for a third-party presidential candidate, there is a difference between the sugary-gumdrop realm of fantasy and the harsh reality of life. You can’t just make a show go away by refusing to watch it. Trust me, I’ve tried that tactic with everything from Bones to Glee to no avail. There are plenty of people who loathe First Take and complain about it online (a highly productive activity!), but that hasn’t stopped the network from rerunning the morning “highlights” on the oxymoronically titled Best of First Take in the afternoon. Despite the criticism, First Take is unfortunately here to stay…
…in which case the only method of making it tolerable is to turn it into a drinking game.
(WARNING: If you are under the age of twenty-one, I in no way endorse your consumption of alcohol. To do so is a sin and an eternity of damnation is not worth a shot of Svedka. Also, if you happen to have a job or have kids or have a job that involves kids (like maybe you drive a school bus or “teach” gym), you probably shouldn’t be drinking early in the morning. I mean, I’m not the Surgeon General or anything, but that just seems risky. Thankfully, because of the first-world privilege of the DVR, you can record First Take in the morning and drink to it later at a more appropriate time).
First Take Drinking Game Rules
To begin with, you’ll need three types of alcohol, one for each of the three main “characters” (I hesitate to call them real people at this point) on the show. While you can pick whichever trio best suits your alcohol palate, I recommend the following: Wild Turkey whiskey for Stephen A. Smith, because he’s boisterous, loud, and thinks he’s a magnitude classier than he actually is; Burnett’s vodka for Skip Bayless, because everyone with a modicum of intelligence hates Burnett’s vodka; and an energy drink for Cari Champion, because her beautiful smile kick-starts my heart like the song “Kick Start My Heart.”
Now that you’ve assembled your alcohol arsenal, it’s time to tune in! Keeping in mind which bottle corresponds to which person (which can be hard if you’re drunk, I know), take a drink if…
1) Skip employs the red herring, argumentum ad nauseam, or argumentum ad logicam fallacies. Look these up if you don’t know what they are and prepare to pen your liver a heartfelt apology letter.
2) Stephen A. does his little shoulder-shake dance as they go to commercial, his lips pursed in tough-guy imitation, nodding to whatever horrid rap song that some lowlife intern convinced the producers would really rake in the “younger audience.”
3) Skip wears something pastel colored that makes him look like an aggressive Easter egg.
4) Stephen A. uses a large word (of at least five syllables) incorrectly. Take an extra shot if he shouts it at an anvil-shattering volume. If he does this while whipping his glasses off his face in mock outrage, just start chugging.
5) Cari seems to flirt subtly with Skip. Just watch her eyes as Skip talks and tell me there isn’t a romantic spark glinting there. My girlfriend pointed this out to me and now I can’t stop noticing it. It’s eerie. CARI, YOU CAN DO BETTER!
6) Either Skip or Stephen A. references how they know a certain athlete personally. Take two shots if they explicitly refer to said athlete as a “friend” or “the guy I love to harpoon-hunt koala bears with.” They don’t really say the latter that often.
7) Either Skip or Stephen A. wagers a classy dinner on a bet (further reminding you that, despite their clownishness and intellectual shortcomings, they’re far richer than you’ll ever be). Take two shots if this is a dinner consisting of the aforementioned koala bears.
8) Skip narrows his eyebrows and smirks like a wicked Disney villain.
9). Cari says the phrase, “We want to hear from you, the viewers…” Take another swig of your energy drink if she finishes the sentence with, “…about if you think me and a certain writer from FanSided would make a great couple.” Then email me and tell me she said that so I can start robbing unsuspecting pedestrians and fleecing old people to generate wedding ring revenue.
10) Skip or Stephen A. actually bring up a well-reasoned argument that seems sensible. Actually, in this case you should probably stop drinking because you are very likely dead and witnessing an alternate reality in the afterlife.
If you follow all these rules to the letter, there’s no conceivable way you won’t end up belligerent and incoherent by the end up of the program. There is also no conceivable way that you will be able to complete the Around the Horn Drinking Challenge later in the day, but that’s okay, I suppose. It’s a tough way to start your morning, sure, and it sets the inebriated ball rolling that will inevitably conclude with you screaming obscenities at a Taco Bell employee, but it is scientifically less damaging to your brain cells than watching First Take while sober. Remember, your health matters!