Monday, September 14, 2009

The Worldwide Leader in Overdoing It

I like sports a lot. There’s nothing more entertaining to me than the drama of a great game. So I watch a lot of ESPN because I like football and baseball and basketball and golf and can even get into the occasional women’s softball game or soccer match. Hockey not so much, but that's just me.

All that said, as much as I watch ESPN, I kinda hate ESPN. I hate how often they celebrate themselves and remind us how cool they are. I hate how exhaustively and painfully they over-cover certain events and athletes. Brett Favre comes to mind. ESPN thinks sports fans are just sitting around wondering what he is thinking about, constantly. I don't dislike Favre, I just don't care.

As much as I do appreciate ESPN's coverage and like a lot of their personalities and commercials, I just don't like how ESPN overdoes it on a regular basis, to the point of becoming insufferable.

According to ESPN for example, this Saturday's USC at Ohio State game was a HUGE deal, even if the calendar says September and the game itself was kinda boring, save for the final 10 minutes.

ESPN aired the game, which started at 8 and ended at around 11:35, which sounds about right for an overly hyped early season game stocked with as many commercials and sponsorships as possible. But the length of the game is not my problem with ESPN.

My problem is how they treated the viewer after the game. Like I said, the game ended just past 11:30 and after a long game like that, my thought is that it’s time to switch to highlights of the day from other games and events, of which there were a magnitude.

So after the obligatory post-game interviews, where the freshman quarterback thanks God for the win, and the coach thanks God for the quarterback, and we see the teams praying and singing the school fight song, we shift to ESPN headquarters in Bristol where Steve Levy and John Anderson are standing by. Great, I'm thinking, it's time for them to take us through an exciting day of college football right? Maybe we’ll head out to the US Open semifinals where Serena blew a gasket? The baseball playoff races? Tiger went low Saturday, maybe we’ll see him in action?

No, no, no, and no. ESPN will now reinforce that the SportsNation was supposed to be utterly fascinated by the significance of Ohio State – USC. Before the worldwide leader shows us a clip of anything else, we will all re-live the game (that we just watched) in pictures, words, analysis, interviews and press conferences for the next, I kid you not, 20 minutes. You want highlights? You will get nothing other than Ohio State – USC. Yes, I realize I could flip over to ESPNEWS, but as they've told us, "This is SportsCenter." And I want me some SportsCenter.

Here’s what ESPN aired:

11:37-11:41 – The guys from SportsCenter deliver the OSU-USC highlights package, with “big game” treatment in the form of exhaustive recaps of every significant play. Remember, they are showing you the highlights of a game you probably just watched.

Now we can get to other games right? I mean, I think Tiger might have had a hole in one on a par 5, let’s see some of that right? Not yet.

11:41 – 11:44 - Back to Columbus for Chris Fowler and Desmond Howard breaking down the game you just saw and just saw the highlights from. Desmond Howard chimes in with really interesting stuff like, “Pete Carroll is one of the best in college football at making halftime adjustments.”

I am personally ready to see Michigan – Notre Dame highlights, but I would take sumo wrestling as this point, I don't care.

11:44 – 11;46 - They kick it up to the booth where Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit are ready to provide some final thoughts on the game they just analyzed for nearly four hours. How much more can they possibly have to say about this game? Can we all move on? This is getting awkward.

Apparently not.

11:46-11:48 -- Back to Chris and Desmond on their on-field set to talk more about the game we just watched, then watched highlights of, then watched them talk about, then listened to Kirk and Brent talk about, and now it’s back to Chris and Desmond for more.

It's as if ESPN is saying to us, "Look, we spent a lot of money to ship a lot of people to Columbus for this one, so we are going to make you watch them. A lot."

Does ESPN think we were all heretofore incapable of understanding the magnitude of this game? Fowler just said, “A long way to go for USC but what a big step they took tonight.”

It’s September 12th Chris, ya think?

And Desmond following up with, “That wasn’t just a big step, that was a huge step.”

11:48 Fowler and Desmond are winding down and I think we’re all ready to check highlights from other games when Fowler says, “Let’s hear the post-game press conference, LIVE now, where USC freshman QB Matt Barkley is answering questions.”

11:48 – 11:53 - Really ESPN? Really we need to watch the press conference now? Before we get to see Serena cussing out the line judge? You’d think they’d cut to the press conference to hear just one or two sound bites right? Wrong. They kept the cameras there for five minutes. It was three USC guys up there saying things like, “it was 11 guys on every play.” Riveting.

After they finally break from the press conference, we gotta go straight back to SportsCenter right? I mean by this point Serena has ripped off the line judge’s head and shoved a racket down her open neck, right? And we have already, to recap:

Watched the Ohio State – USC game for 3 hours and 45 minutes, then watched the highlights of the game, then watched Chris and Desmond talk about it, then watched Kirk and Brent talk about it, then came back to Chris and Desmond for more, then went to the press conference to hear from the players for five minutes of nothing, and now?

Desmond Howard is reading Ohio State’s upcoming schedule.

The game ended nearly 20 minutes ago. Why is ESPN torturing the Sports Nation?
Honestly, if I grew up in Columbus and had three degrees from USC I wouldn't be interested in this much post game analysis.

11:58 - Finally, at a few minutes before midnight, Chris Fowler stops water boarding ESPN viewers and says, “Let’s go from Columbus back to Bristol now for John and Steve, guys?”

And Steve Levy says, “Alright Chris, I’m sure much more coming up from Columbus in just a little bit.”

In case you were wondering, next week Ohio State plays Toledo.

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