YouTube: The TV where You choose, You star

One of the smartest inventions on the internet—especially for sports—is YouTube. In search of a 1960s NBA classic? Want to see a replay of the other night’s Boston Red Sox 8-7 win? Manny Pacquiao’s KOs? They’re all there. Plus, YouTube is free, fast, and has nearly 100 million videos stored—tens of thousands of which are related to sports.

Typing “Michael Jordan,” for example, will result to 54,600 videos. There’s the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, the Larry Bird vs. Michael Jordan McDonald’s commercial, MJ’s final shot in ’98, and a tribute video aptly-titled, “I Believe I Can Fly.”

Greg Slaughter? Cebu’s newest and, literally, biggest star? There are dozens of videos on the UV center, one of which is “Greg Slaughter Dunk UV vs. China” where, true enough, you’ll see the 6-foot-11 giant sprinting down the lane, jumping, catching an inbounds pass on the air and slamming the ball down the ring.

If you want tennis, there’s plenty. One of the most famous is of Novak Djokovic. Nicknamed “Djoke” by the media, over 5 million YouTube hits were recorded of his impersonations—including a hilarious rendition of Maria Sharavopa.

Speaking of Maria…. wow, if you’re a fan—like my editor, Mike Limpag, is (did you notice the subtle SHARAPOVA RULES that he laced on his column yesterday?)—then you can see the world’s most famous female athlete in many poses—including the 2 million hits she registered posing in two-piece bikinis in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition video.

You’re into running and want to watch an astonishing story? Type “Haile Gebrselassie Reveal.” Who’s Haile? He’s the greatest-ever long-distance runner, the man who’s broken 26 world records. In that YouTube video, you’ll watch a CNN feature (under the segment named “Reveal”) that features Haile tracing his roots as a boy who’d run 10 miles to school each day all the way to breaking the world marathon record in Berlin.

What’s amazing about YouTube is that, if you’re looking for an old sports clip—say, the 1980 Wimbledon tiebreaker between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg—you can find it. Almost any video material that you’re looking for you can find in YouTube.com.

One of the most watched of all sports-related videos is the one of football star Ronaldinho. In the 2 minute, 45-second shot, he is shown dribbling, kicking, bouncing, shooting the ball. (If you have yet to see it, I’ll spare you the details—but it’s unbelievable, almost unreal.) How many YouTube views did that get? As of 2 p.m. yesterday… 25,582,761!

What I also love about YouTube is watching the advertisements. Did you see the commercials of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer? The Nike ad of Manny Pacquiao? The ones of Lance Armstrong? One of my favorite is “Materazzi Nike” which shows Marco Materazzi, the football star whom Zinedine Zidane head-butted in the 2006 World Cup. Watch it. And laugh.

Even local sports is covered. On the YouTube search box, I typed “Cebu sports” and 366 video results appeared—many of them Intramurals of schools like Cebu Doctors’ University. Even my daughter’s school, Bright Academy, has hits aplenty—the performances of the cheer-dance competition during their Sports-Fest were all uploaded to YouTube.

Speaking of Cebu, we know the biggest YouTube hit of all time—no it’s not the Vicente Sotto hospital scandal, although that also drew hundreds of thousands of hits—but it’s the CPDRC prison inmates with dance videos to the tune of “Thriller,” “Soulja Boy,” “Sister Act,” “Rico Mambo” and more. The total hits for our prisoners? Over 35 million hits! In fact, last December, Time Magazine placed the “Thriller” video as the No.5 most popular viral video of 2007.

Back to sports, what I also enjoy viewing are the “Top 10” lists. And there are plenty: Top 10 Plays of the year, Top 10 Most Awkward Interviews, Top 10 Best Fights, Top 10 Most Unsportsmanlike Moments, Top 10 Comebacks….

For with YouTube, it’s an endless video collection of You… by You.

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