GO AWAY, SUNS

The readers begin to wonder what happened to their newspaper. They pick it up every morning and see Suns pictures and stories splattered all over the front page.

They puzzle over what's happening in Bosnia or whether it's time for President Clinton to get another $200 haircut.

So they begin looking even more to television to find out about the real news of the day.

But, of course, all they see is somebody like Jineane Ford smiling out at them and rooting for "our Phoenix Suns." And Bill Denney is ready with a live update which isn't an update at all.

The situation is beyond repair. Only the elimination of the Suns from the playoffs can save the media from itself. Even USA Today, which is a technicolor bulletin board, realizes that it must keep sports stories as short as possible. But by this time, local newspaper writers seem to be vying with each other to determine who can write the longest stories and gather the most self-congratulatory quotes from Kevin Johnson.

Too much writing drives out the good writing that is being done. There are too many stories and so the really good ones are hidden from view.

Perhaps it is time for the same editors who set this phenomenon loose to conduct a survey to see how many people are actually reading all these elongated Suns stories.

Readers do not sit enthralled each day so they can read, yet again, about Barkley's hamstring muscles and KJ's announcement that he is the "best point guard in the NBA."

There is an old rule about sports stories that never changes. The readers who like expanded sports coverage best do not or cannot read. Perhaps the advertisers don't realize that.

By now there are hundreds of buildings around town bearing signs that read "Go Suns." The same exhortation is on the walls of private homes and on cars and trucks.

Everyone has gotten the message about the Suns. They have it so deeply ingrained that all they have to do now is watch the games for themselves on TV or listen to them on the radio.

The messengers have strangled the message. All it takes now to communicate the story is a telephone call to a friend the following morning and a quick question:

"Did you see what Charles Barkley did last night?"
Enough said.

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