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What If ESPN Broadcasted THON?

Sitting up on press row, THON is truly a sight to behold. There is a ton of attention-grabbing action going on every second, whether it’s dancers breaking out their best (and worst) moves, beach balls soaring through the air, or cardboard cutouts dancing in the stands. Not to mention, the incredible sight of the whole arena bursting out into the line dance in one giant synchronized motion.

That got me thinking. What if ESPN decided to send their premiere college football broadcasting team of Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit to State College to announce the event?

Here’s how I’d imagine it would go down.

Cue to a wide shot of the inside of the Bryce Jordan Center, as the camera pans over the main stage and into the crowd of frenzied dancers, all with their hands raised in the famous four diamonds pose.

Bobby Chen

Brent Musburger: YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE at a jam-packed Bryce Jordan Center during THON, Penn State’s annual 46-hour dance marathon. Tonight, over 700 dancers and thousands of student volunteers will continue to fight the overwhelming urge to close their eyes and gently drift off to sleep, all to raise money to find a cure.

Kirk Herbstreit: You know Brent, this is the best student body in the country. No doubt about it. So it’s not surprising to me that we’re now more than 36 hours in, and the energy is still electric.

M: Let’s take a look at today’s matchup. The dancers will have their hands full with the outstanding level of fatigue and exhaustion creeping up on them before the final reveal. The dancers have been preparing for months, but there’s almost no stopping the overwhelming desire to sleep when it shows up to play.

H: Absolutely. But you look at the tape of past THONs, and the dancers show an impressive resiliency in the face of such a daunting task.

M: No doubt about it, Herbie. Buckle up folks. When you come back, it’s Penn State THON vs. Pediatric Cancer. You’re not going to want to miss this.

Following a brief commercial break, the camera returns to a wide shot of the BJC, eventually panning over the stands to an excited crowd, holding up cardboard cutout letters and multicolored thunder sticks.

M: From the very first line dance, the moralers have been shutting down any and all signs of slowing down in their dancers. There’s a complete and utter commitment up front to stopping the spread of exhaustion.

H: I think the moralers were determined to shut down exhaustion early. They’ve been hearing a lot of talk all week about how there’s nothing they can do to stop the physical toll of dancing for 46 hours, and that motivation would slip. But they’ve responded with a tremendous effort in putting together an engaging line dance.

M: Good point, Herbie. You can’t talk about THON without mentioning the line dance. What a special moment that is.

H: And how can you not mention the excellent training room, medicine booth, snack shack, and fantastic captains, executive committee, and media relations that work behind the scenes? THON is a complete effort, and it shows in the $100 million its raised thus far for the Four Diamonds Fund.

The camera quickly snaps to a close up of the men’s swimming team showing off their bare midriffs during their award winning performance at the Pep Rally.

Mens Swimming Athlete THON

M: What a lovely bunch of young athletes. You swimmers, you get all the good looking women. What an amazing set of abs.

H: Wow! The swim team must be doing something right down at the Natatorium.

M: If you’re a youngster in Pennsylvania, start getting the Speedos out and swim a couple of laps in the backyard pool.

After that brief, but awkward analysis, the gang jumps back into dissecting the event on the floor.

H: At this point in the marathon, you’re going to see some dancers start taking extra bathroom trips, leaning on the tables a little bit more, and giving thousand-yard stares. But you have to applaud the ones who are tossing around the Nerf balls and batting the beach balls around. It’s little things like that that could have a big impact on the final result.

M: You hit the nail on the head, Herbie. I talked to some of the moralers, and they said coloring books, question balls—really, anything to take your mind from wandering—is crucial to finishing the grueling 46. It’s all about simplifying the game plan, and just letting them go out and dance.

H: And you gotta hand it to the orgs. They may not be on the floor, but many of them have been standing since the beginning. Those cardboard cutouts are no joke. Have you ever held something over your head for hours? I don’t care how light it is, that is no easy task.

M: And how about the fashion, eh, Herbie? I don’t think I’ve seen this many mixed-up colors in one place since finger painting class back in the first grade.

H: I’ve seen tutus. I’ve seen socks. I’ve seen tapes, err, capes. I’ve even seen superhero costumes. Is there anything THON doesn’t deliver?

M: You know Kirk, if I was a betting man, I’d take the over this year for the final total. There are some number crunchers out there…oh ho ho!

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About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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