Heroes of the Game



Dan and Casey are leaving their office to head to their 6 P.M. run-down. They talk as they move toward the conference room.

Dan: So what's the plan?

Casey: About?

Dan: The promo.

Casey: I don't know.

Dan: You don't have a plan?

Casey: Let's just see what happens.

Dan: No.

Casey: Why not?

Dan: Because this is you and me, and we need to be on the same page to win this fight.

Casey: You're expecting a fight?

Dan: It's J.J. There will be a fight.

Casey: There will be a fight?

Dan: And we need to be on the same page. At least a two-on-one.

Casey: Two-on-one.

Dan: Exactly.

Casey: Good.

Dan: So what's the plan?

Casey: I don't know.

Dan: Here's what we are going to do...

Casey: Let me hear it, first.

Dan: Integrity.

Casey: Integrity.

Dan: And professionalism.

Casey: Integrity and professionalism.

Dan: Right. We are going to hold the high ground and refuse to do the promo based on our integrity and professionalism.

Casey: (hesitant) Okay.

Dan: If we were to give in, we would be losing our integrity as journalists and it is totally unprofessional.

Casey: I don't--

Dan: All your awards would mean nothing. They would be fancy paper weights.

Casey: Dan--

Dan: Nothing. You might as well be announcing music on the grocery store radio network.

Casey: They have radio networks?

Dan: Don't you ever shop at the supermarket?

Casey: So you're doing this for me?

Dan: We are doing this for us.

Casey: I'll follow your lead.

Dan: Perfect. We'll wait for J.J. to say something, then we will attack.

Casey: In other words, we'll show up and then see what happens.

Dan: Exactly. Only with fighting.

Dan and Casey reach outside the conference room, and they stop to tap their fist on top of each other's fist. Dan opens the conference room door, and the two enter.


As Dan and Casey enter the conference room, other members of Sports Night's staff are already inside. Sitting around the table are Dave, J.J., Chris, Will, Kim, Jeremy, two seats reserved for Casey and Dan, and Natalie, who sits at the head of the table. Isaac is also in the conference room, leaning against a wall. As Dan walks by Natalie, he gives her a reassuring, confidence-building rub on her back. Dan and Casey take their seats, which are directly across from J.J.

Natalie: All right. Let's get started here. Tonight, we are going to start off with the women's finals in gymnastics, three through eight are going to be about women's swimming, and nine through twelve are going to be about men's swimming.

Dan: I have the gymnastics and men's swimming, and Casey has the women.

Casey: I certainly do. (pause) I have the teaser about U.S.A. and Italy, and-

Natalie: Then to commercial.

Casey: Right.

Natalie: Thirteen and fourteen are about the Mets-Braves in Atlanta, and fifteen will be about the first game between the Red Sox and Cleveland.

Jeremy: Five games in three days.

Natalie: What?

Casey: The Indians play Boston five times in the next three days, starting-

Natalie: I know.

Casey: Finley is going to be resting the series...

Casey looks toward Natalie waiting for her to interrupt, but she keeps quiet.

Casey: Okay.

Kim: Elliott is working on a story where three ball players got busted.

Natalie: Good. Who are they?

Kim: Don't know.

Natalie: Where?

Kim: Elliott's working on it.

Natalie: Okay. So, we'll put the story of somebody somewhere getting arrested in the twenties. They play ball, right?

Dan: Hey, hey.

Kim: Elliott's working on it.

Natalie: Fine. We've got the recap from the Redskins-Cowboys next, and then we have-

Casey: The teaser for the rest of the night in baseball.

Natalie glares at Casey.

Natalie: (clenching her jaw) No, the teaser about the promo.

Casey: Oh.

Natalie: (clenching her jaw) After commercial, then you have the rest of the night in baseball, and then you guys have the promo about Kournikova.

Dan: I have a question about this.

Casey: (whispering to Dan) I thought you were going to wait.

J.J.: I figured just as much, which is why I am here.

Dan: Good. What's the purpose of this?

J.J.: I would hope you guys would like to promote a program for next week.

Isaac: 'Heroes of the Game.'

J.J.: Precisely. We were hoping you would have started this a few nights ago, but since it is still over a week away, you can still promote this very well.

Dan: You want us to talk about Kournikova for two minutes.

J.J.: We want you and Casey to promote 'Heroes of the Game,' which is going to feature Anna Kournikova.

Dan: It's Ahn-ah.

J.J.: Excuse me?

Dan: It's pronounced Ahn-ah Kournikova, not Anna Kournikova.

J.J.: Whatever.

Dan: I would hope you would at least know how to pronounce the name of the hero you want us to promote.

J.J.: At least, we're not doing a story on... what's the name of that tennis player?

Casey: Kafelnikov.

J.J.: I want to hear Dan say it.

Casey: Last I checked, Dan and I were doing the Ahn-ah promo.

J.J.: So you want to do it, McCall? You and Dan need to be on the same page.

Dan: We are on the same page.

Casey: Right.

Dan: How can we do a promo for someone who isn't even the top female player in the world?

Natalie: Excuse me.

Jeremy: Well, she is fifteenth.

Dan: And the most ogled female athlete in the world.

Kim: She has brought much attention to the game of tennis.

Casey: She has brought much attention to her, and she just happens to play tennis.

J.J.: Why are you guys fighting this?

Casey: It's not right.

Dan: It's not professional.

J.J.: It's your job. And I thought you two were the champion of promoting this network. All talk-

Dan: And that show is a bunch of crap!

Natalie: Excuse me.

Dan stands up from his chair.

Dan: No, wait. When I hear about 'Heroes of the Game,' she isn't the first person I even think of.

Casey: Robinson.

Dan: Jordan.

Casey: Ruth.

Dan: Ali.

Casey: Joyner-Kersee.

Dan: Brown.

Casey: Armstrong.

Will: Pele.

Kim: Woods.

Chris: Shoemaker.

Jeremy: Wooden.

Dan: Gretzky.

Isaac: Owens.

Casey: Lewis- Carl and Joe.

Natalie: Excuse me.

J.J.: This is a continuing series. They can be and will be on in the future.

Dan: But the first one, the very first one is about a tennis player who is known more for her looks than her tennis playing. Why, she isn't even the first female tennis player I can think of.

Casey: King.

Dan: The Williams sisters.

Casey: Navratilova.

Dan: Graf.

J.J.: We understand your concerns, but I didn't choose the subject. And we expect you to promote it.

Natalie: (clenching jaw) Excuse me, please.

Dan: We are journalists.

J.J.: And you need to report on it.

Casey stands up next to Dan.

Casey: We do sports.

Dan: We are journalists.

J.J. stands up.

J.J.: And you need to do your job.

Dan: We are.

Casey: We aren't vee-jays. We report the news related to sports.

Natalie erupts out of your chair, and her chair goes flying back to the conference room door.

Natalie: Damn it! Everyone sit down and shut the hell up! We've got a show to do! Dan, Casey... do the promo only for sixty seconds. Come up with something to fill the other minute! You talk about freakin' Ahn-ah during the highlights, and you say that's professional. 'Oh, look at what she is wearing' - Casey you'd say! 'Our nightly Kournikova Update' you'd say Dan! And now when you are asked to do something serious, you can't do it because you are too damn professional! Give me a break! You two need to-

Isaac: Natalie.

Natalie: -do your freakin' job because you are pissing me off!

Isaac: Natalie.

Natalie: What the hell do you want?!

Natalie realizes she has just snapped in front of everyone. She realizes she has just snapped at Isaac. She realizes she is the one currently being unprofessional. Her body becomes limp and her head droops down, while she holds herself up on the edge of the table.

Natalie: (whispering) I'm sorry. I am so sorry. I need to sit down.

Natalie goes to sit down, and she doesn't realize she had pushed her chair away. She slowly descends to where the chair should be located, but then accelerates to the floor once she realizes it isn't there.

CRASH!!! Papers fly off the table and onto the floor. Everyone jumps over to Natalie, sprawled out on the floor. They all help her up, Jeremy holds her hand, Isaac pulls her chair over, and they set her into the chair.

Natalie: I'm all right. I'm okay.

Isaac: Everybody, it's a busy day out there. A lot is going on, and let's get back to work. We'll see everyone at ten.

Everyone quietly agrees and they all leave the conference room, except for Isaac and Natalie.

Isaac: Natalie.

Natalie: Isaac, I am so sorry. Oh... I wouldn't blame you if you fired me right now.

Isaac: I'm not going to do that.

Natalie: Isaac, please.

Natalie buries her face in her hands.

Isaac: Natalie, what's wrong?

Natalie: Nothing.

Isaac puts his arm around her.

Isaac: Natalie.

Natalie: It's just... it just isn't fair.

Isaac: Tell me about it.

Natalie: I have Olympic fever, and it isn't fair.

Isaac: Okay.

Natalie: I was ready months ago. I had Olympic fever months ago. Then CSC said we were cutting coverage in Sydney. I cried over that. Then we are bought out by Quo Vadimus, and they say they are going to increase our Summer Game coverage. I thought we were going to Sydney. Dana got to go to Sydney.

Isaac: She's producing the nightly 'Summer Games Report.'

Natalie: I know. But when they said they were sending us to Sydney, I thought they were sending us.

Natalie starts to cry, and Isaac pulls her head against his chest. Natalie sobs tears of disappointment.

Isaac: It's all right.

Natalie: I'm sorry.

Isaac: It's all right, Natalie. There's always Salt Lake City.

Natalie: Salt Lake City?

Isaac: Yes. I promise you Salt Lake City.

Natalie: Really?

Isaac: Salt Lake City, here we come?

Natalie starts to wipe the tears away from her eyes.

Natalie: Salt Lake City, here we come.

Natalie then puts her head back into Isaac, and he wraps his arms around her.

Salt Lake City, here we come. As Natalie said it, she admitted her dream had been lost. Salt Lake City. It should have been Sydney. Natalie had dreamed and planned on being in Sydney. Her dream had been crushed when CSC announced the cutbacks in the Summer Games coverage, but it rose from the ashes when a man named Calvin Trager said, "I believe in you." Her Olympic fever had grown once again. The anticipation was so great, she could hardly sleep at night. Jeremy would sometimes roll his eyes at her when she would break their conversation off into a tangent, just so she could talk about the Sydney Games.

A month ago, she found out the terrible news. It was like not getting picked to play kickball during recess. The disappointment. The resentment. The jealousy. The crying. Natalie cried for days and days. All Jeremy could do was hold her and tell her he loved her. He baked her cookies one day, hoping she would cheer up- but it didn't help. She couldn't stand to see Jeremy view her like this. He would try to understand, he tried to take away her pain, but Natalie couldn't let go. Dana was there- she wasn't. Salt Lake City would be another dream to put hope in, but it would never be Sydney.

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