'Sports Machine' Shuts Down


George Michael hit the button for the last time Sunday night, at least on his Sports Machine syndicated sports roundup. The show has been a fixture on the Washington sports scene for over a quarter of a century.

Michael could be a tough boss, but he has drawn nothing but praise and tears as he ended first his run on WRC-TV as sports anchor several weeks ago and last night's final Sports Machine broadcast.

Anybody who had watched the interplay between Michael and longtime anchor Jim Vance–Vance spoke at my high school graduation and I'm as old as dirt– on that final newscast had to be touched by the genuine affection on that set.

NBC has been cutting back staff and Sports Machine was reportedly slated for a similar trimming. Michael chose instead to leave rather than cut staffers, a classy move for someone so obviously in love with having his finger on the sports button.

On his last broadcast, he gave a shout out to NBC U syndication chief Barry Wallach and even ex-B&C LA reporter extraordinaire Joe Schlosser.

Classy finish for a quality sportscaster, but he will continue to do a couple of sports shows for WRC and, I'm told by USA Today, some NASCAR races for DirecTV.

Warner Wolf, another former DC sportscasters, may have popularized the "let's go to the videotape," cry, but Michael popularized in in syndication. There is arguably less need for a roundup show now, with highlights inescapable on every medium from ESPN to cell phones, but Michael pioneered the sports clip compilation, including giving time to other sports, particularly rodeo, that didn't get a lot of attention elsewhere.

He will be missed.

By John Eggerton