Commenters on Friday's post immediately hit on three points that I've thought to myself:
- Exclusive-rights broadcasting is the major problem here, says ny1995 of IBFC. Yes. Everyone hates them some monopoly, and exclusive-rights broadcasting gives a network a monopoly on a particular game, thus forcing me into Bill Walton when I would rather hear an audio tape of my own death replayed for three hours. Will it ever go away? Probably not. How much is the non-exclusive right to broadcast a game worth? Not much.
- We probably aren't far off from multiple audio tracks, says Dave of No Website Given. I only hope I won't have to pay for 'premium' audio, because I probably won't, being hopelessly damaged by my mother's frugality. If technology arises that can funnel different commercials to different broadcasts of a game, I might not have to. Demographics are everything in advertising, and if advertisers know their ideas are being beamed into my crotchety-old-man brain they can focus on dentures and those bicycles with one really big wheel and really get me excited about buying stuff. They can save the Britney for the Waltonites.
- The ombudsman is a PR exercise only, says Chas from Pitt Sports Blather. This would appear to be the case given the topics covered in Solomon's first column. There wasn't any portion of it that I cared about. I can't conceive of anyone who wouldn't finish in the top 10 of a worldwide George Will lookalike contest caring about it. The pressing issue of the day (THE FACT THAT ESPN TALKS LIKE THIS!!! EXCEPT WITH DUMBER!!!) was only peripherally addressed. Also, I found a link to his column somewhere (I can't recall) that wasn't ESPN.com. A quick scan finds that the ombudsman's column not easy to find. Chas is probably going to be proven right, sadly.
You also should know that my oldest son, Aaron, 35, is the producer of "Around The Horn" and had the opportunity to veto my taking this job for that reason, as did Mark Shapiro. I've told Aaron from his show's inception two years ago, that some of the sportswriters on his panel might want to turn down the volume, but he's ignored my advice, as will many of his colleagues throughout the network. No one has to listen to, or respond to, an ombudsman.It may amaze and disappoint you to know that I don't actually mind PTI or Around The Horn all that much, since they're conceived as useless screaming matches. How am I supposed to dog PTI for being superficial when it has a countdown clock on the right side of the screen? It knows its superficiality. When you turn it on you know what you're getting. It also comes on at 5:30 PM, when ESPN couldn't be doing anything useful anyway. When that screaming match transitions into places where I don't want it (everywhere else) is when I get all Johnny Five after a lightning bolt.
I do think better days are coming, though. There's a market for sports coverage that's not utterly retarded, and it has killer wealthy-moderately-aged-dude demographics. I hope to tell my children uphill-in-both-ways stories about Dick Vitale:
Yes, honey, he called people "diaper dandies" at a decibel level approaching that of the Concorde. Yes, you could see his lips around the throbbing--um, you're six--pony of Coach K, even though neither of them was being shown on the screen at the time and no such heinous, er, pony act was taking place. No you can't have a pony. Are you listening to me?But I still call certain people older than me "goddamn kids" so there you go.
Update: This topic does appear to be sore spot central. Straight Bangin' weighs in with a dead-on take which has this splendid point I neglected to make:
Much like cable news, ESPN suffers from the misapprehension that we, sports consumers, yearn solely for declarations and decisiveness. Television coverage of sports has systematically sought to eliminate the shades we call gray; everything has to be black or white, and you can’t like one if you say you like the other.Amen. What pisses me off is that bold(!!!) statements are made and then backed up with blah blah blah heart blah want to win more blah kill me now.
More ESPN spleen venting can be observed here, if you're into that sort of thing. And let's be serious: you are.