EXCLUSIVE: Book Excerpts from "Versus: We Don’t Have a Ton of Fun"

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_"We never wanted to be the number one sports channel. We didn't even want to be the number two sports channel. We wanted to carve out our own place in the sports world, and we did. You've got ESPN at the top, then ESPN 2, ESPN News, Fox Sports, Fox Sports Mexico, Fox Sports Bahrain, Versus Sports, and then the Bum Fights Network. Oh wait, I'm reading this ratings report wrong, we are actually tied with the Bum Fights Network."_

— Versus CEO Mark Schmidt, from Chapter One: "The First Sports Network To Start on a Drunken Dare"

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"No, we didn't have any big stars like Chris Berman or the gorilla mascot from the Phoenix Suns, but what we did have was a great deal of inexperience and a severe lack of professionalism. We literally learned to work the cameras as we went. We actually shot most of our footage with Mark's iPhone and used iMovie to put it all together. That's why there were so many text alert sounds during our Mountain West conference football coverage."

— Versus Production Director and Part-Time Custodian Jonas Felt, from Chapter Three: "On The Shoulders of Midgets"

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"Scandals? You want scandals? Man, I don't even know where to begin. These guys were playing with house money. I mean, they never expected to have jobs after the weekend ended. Every time the phone rang, they thought it was someone about to fire them. And they lived like every moment was their last, because for all they knew, it was. I'm talking hookers, blow, every flavor of ice cream, donkey-blow, kids on crutches, I mean, everything was fair game. What? Versus network? Oh, I thought you were asking me about Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign."

— Intern Franklin DuBois, from Chapter Seven: "In Which We Interview Random People to Pad the Book"

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"We had a rough time in the beginning, I'll admit. We had to make up sports to cover when we first started just to fill up air time. Have you ever heard of Noodle-Ball? Pot-Smarking? How about Handi-Capped Hoe-Down? We were really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Of course, Noodle-Ball is our highest rated program now. I don't think anyone saw that coming."

— Content Manager Fred Stanton, from Chapter Four: "D's Get Degrees"

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"Well, my publicist signed me up to do the show before we realized it was Versus. Obviously, if we had known at the time, we never would have agreed to do it. But, it actually wasn't that bad. It was definitely the first sports show I had been on that was co-hosted by a puppet."

— Former MLB Baseball player Jose Canseco, from Chapter Nine: "Yes Way, Jose"

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"We never had a show co-hosted by a puppet. You have to remember, Jose was doing a lot of drugs at the time. Well, we all were, really. So, actually, yeah, it is conceivable that we had a show co-hosted by a puppet."

— Versus CEO Mark Schmidt, from Chapter Nine: "Yes Way, Jose"

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"Advertisers wouldn't touch us. We had to pay a sponsor for the rights to air a bowl game during our first year, and of course they wanted to tie the name into the product for vertical integration. That year was the first and last Clorox Toilet Bowl."

— Versus Sports Accounts Manager Vic Taccone, from Chapter Eight: "Even Soccer Games Had Higher Ratings"

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"Scandals? No, not really. It was all pretty tame. We stole some office supplies, drank beer sometimes while we were on the night shift, once I made a snuff film with a guy's wife and then dumped her body in Central Park, downloaded some movies with company internet … I mean, nothing serious."

— Binky, the puppet who co-hosted "SportsPuppet", from Chapter Fourteen: "Puppetmania"

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"We put together a promotion for a minor league baseball game called 'Free Hooker Night'. We paid referees to make the games more exciting. We handed out fliers outside of our office building begging people to watch our network. We aired unlicensed episodes of 'Law and Order' and put computer-animated athletic equipment in the detectives' hands to make it seem sports-related. But, no, we never aired a WNBA game. Come on, we weren't desperate."

— Versus Production Manager and Part-time Custodian, Jonas Felt, from Chapter Eleven: "Bankruptcy"

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"Yes, I do think it went to his head. He was, after all, the number one puppet in sports broadcasting. Were there anything to the rumors that we were romantically involved? Well, I really can't say on the record. Let me just put it this way: if Binky called me, I would definitely answer the phone."

— "SportsPuppet" co-host Lisa Tremble, from Chapter Fourteen: "Puppetmania"

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"You know, Versus may not have the ratings share that ESPN does, Versus may not have loyal fans that ESPN does, and Versus certainly doesn't have the budget that ESPN does … what? No. I'm finished. Yeah, there's no good end to that train of thought. I thought I could take that somewhere and make it inspiring, but no."

— Star Noodle-back Austin Richards, of the Boston Bowties after being named MVP of the Noodle-Ball championship game over the Anaheim Angel-hairs, from Chapter Twenty: "From Rags To Noodles"


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