A “teaser” in live television parlance is that little advertisement or bait that on-air personalities use right before a commercial to hook us back in for more news, sports, or weather. They are like mini cliffhangers, luring the curious into watching more of the show.
Teasers come in all forms, from the mundane to the manic: “After the break, I’ll tell you why Wednesday will be the best day of the week in weather,” or “When we come back, see how the sixth grader got revenge after Tom Cruise broke her heart.” These are examples of teasers.
TV people know that, once the audience is hit with a commercial, it is pretty much a toss-up whether they will stick with the newscast, or use the opportunity to seek out better programming elsewhere.
Teasers are so common we often overlook them entirely, letting our subconscious sift through the chaff. However, sometimes a teaser will catch my attention, as it did last week.
I heard it following the death of Tyler Trent, the young Purdue University student, who burst on to the national scene with his impassioned love of his Boilermakers in the face of his epic battle against his ultimately terminal osteosarcoma.
The sportscaster led us to commercial with the teaser: “And when we come back, a final word on Tyler Trent.”
Yes, that is a rather innocuous teaser, and yes, we all know what he meant by saying what he did. That’s why I’m not going to name the sportscaster here. Teasers are supposed to be short and glib, and I know that with a little more thought, the sportscaster could have written a more caring come-on for T2’s newscast epitaph. The ensuing tribute itself was beautiful.
The teaser, however, just pierced me in a way that likely few others noticed.
I think that’s because I just don’t believe that the final word on Tyler Trent will ever be written. This young man, who descended on the world with love of everlasting life, and wisdom and courage surpassing his years, left a legacy that will be felt by generations.
Tyler Trent championed the cause of juvenile cancer research, and had leadership roles in at least a dozen organizations devoted to helping the futures of others. Final word? Naw, the Tyler Trent story just moves into perpetuity.
Whenever I would see T2 surrounded by players from his adopted Purdue football team, I couldn’t help but notice Tyler’s frail body juxtaposed against the supremely healthy frames of his counterparts. What his parents wouldn’t do to give Tyler that body in the background.
Instead, they gave Tyler Trent a servant’s heart, and the compassion to share it freely.
Sometimes life is just thrown at us. We are forced to deal with it, even though it was not our choice to do so. Tyler never set out to be the face of courage. Tyler wanted to be a sportswriter. Ultimately, writers have one aim. Writers want to inspire. Tyler Trent inspired us.
No, Tyler Trent’s story has just gone to commercial. And if I was asked to write the teaser for Tyler’s story, it might go something like this:
“And when we come back … the world is a better place.”
John O. Marlowe spent most of his career as a “pine-time” player, and was football's first DH (dummy holder) for Wabash College in the late 1970's. New to the art of the sports beat writer, Marlowe has spent forty years – and nearly $11,000 – following Indiana high school sports.