10.2% ABV from a stubby bomber
The extended Thanksgiving weekend is a time of overindulgence, placation toward people you don’t really like, and ersatz enjoyment. What I’m saying is, it’s a crash course on all that’s wrong with the television industry’s coverage of sporting events.
How do you fuck up televised coverage of sports? Seems like you’d just need to find a good spot to place a camera or two, turn them on, then simply capture world class athletes doing world class things. Yeah right. Not even amateur pornography can be shot so haphazardly.
I won’t claim for a second that televised sports are worse now than they used to be. Of course they aren’t. Turn on ESPN Classic or check out an NFL Film and even games from the 1980s look so old that you half expect to see Knute Rocke or Vince Lombardi roaming the sidelines. The graphics are comically bad, the font choices are laughably dated, the halftime sets more public access than “Wayne’s World” (that’s before they were sponsored by Noah’s Arcade, natch), and the basic footage is abominable. Shit, even if you accidentally turn on a non-HD channel to watch sports nowadays you’re immediately like, “Mine eyes! Mine eyes!!!” as if carbolic acid had just been poured on them. How many times I’ve selected an inferior sporting event on an HD channel over a superior one only available on non-HD, ipso facto.
Nevertheless, despite the immense technological advances, today’s coverage of sports are not without their flaws. Most of which can be summed up by the phrase:
1. Cutaways — Johnny Pointguard from Syracuse makes a nice layup. CUT! Johnny backpedaling downcourt with a smile on his face. CUT! Johnny’s parents–done come all the way from Plano, Texas–decked out in their brand spanking new ‘Cuse gear, lovingly cheering on their son. CUT! Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim observing the action, ostensibly happy. CUT! UNC coach Roy Williams observing the action, ostensibly miffed. CUT! Back to wide shot and we’ve just missed two steals, a monster dunk, and a three-point play. If action is occurring on the court, WE WANT TO SEE THE ACTION OCCURING ON THE COURT! We don’t want close-ups of players not currently involved in the play, craggy old coaches sitting stoically on the sidelines, coaches’ wives, parents in the stands, fans in the cheap seats, baby mamas, baby babies, fucking mascots, or even cheerleaders (unless they’re the USC Song Girls–vavavavoom!) Just film the action please. It’s what we’re watching this whole dog ‘n’ pony show for…the dog ‘n’ pony. Not their wives.
2. Graphics — On a similar note, enough with full-screen graphics. Over the weekend I was watching one of those preseason hoops tourney tilts from some shitty tropical destination which is really just an outdoor American shopping mall with a Senor Frogs or two. Any how, the game opened with one of those full scale graphic “Keys to the Game” things that look kinda like this:
The Funyuns Keys to Win-yuns
- Dunk the ball a lot
- Don’t point shave
- Hope Coach Cal remembers to send 5 players out on the floor instead of 2 or 3
- Recruit more athletes (black people)
- Pray God exists and hates UK as much as everyone else
- Poison opponents at half-time
The two D-list announcers were laboriously going over these most inane “keys” while underneath the graphic I’m hearing sneaker squeaks, rim clanks, and John Calipari’s hair grease dripping onto the hardwood like some sort of Greaseball Water Torture.
The announcers finally finish speaking, the graphics finally disappear, and we return to action, the score 5-2, 18:25 left in the half!
Networks cover sports as if a retarded person from another planet decided to watch his first game and needed to understand the most basic aspects of these contests. When the fact is, 99% of people that follow sports–especially obscure early season games–know more about sports than 99% of these network buffoons running the show.
3. Speaking of buffoons, now would be the time you might think I would indict announcers. But, you know, I really don’t have a problem with most. Announcers are like politicians: boringly mediocre. Sure, there’s the incredibly dumb and annoying ones (I won’t name names), even more rare the remarkable ones, but most are just mediocre, a hair better than incompetent. For the most part, people become announcers and politicians because they aren’t good at anything else in life. (And I say this having very good friends thriving in both professions–I doubt they read here though.)
4. No, what’s annoying and awful when it comes to personnel are the sideline reporters and studio show schnooks.
Sideline reporters — The absolute paradigm of the “too much” conundrum in sports coverage, I’m not quite sure why these people exist. To get the “scoop” on how Phil Jackson feels being up by 7 at halftime? Uh…good? It’s even more shocking when a sideline reporter is ugly. (Aren’t they supposed to be a little eye candy to make us not feel gay for spending all day watching underdressed buff Adonises grappling with each other?) Or male. (Craig Sager and his sweet suits excepted.) The one time we do need sideline reporters is when a player gets injured so that we may learn of the severity. Yet what do they always say: “Uh yeah, Craig, Polamalu was just carted off to the lockerroom, seems to be grimacing in pain.” Well no joke, we all just saw that! It’s no wonder the typically deplorable Fox baseball broadcasts have scrapped sideline reporters altogether and now just have some lackey strap a Madonna “Vogue”-era mic onto Joe Girardi or Mike Scioscia between half-innings to have them quickly espouse their state-of-the-art theories on the crucialness of the three-run homer, Earl Weaver eat your fucking heart out.
Studio show schnooks — Perhaps the absolute scourge of televised entertainment. Have you ever met a single human being that actually enjoys studio shows? Who wakes up early on Saturday or Sunday to specifically watch them?! Would they be your friend for one second longer if they did? Featuring some of the most deplorable and annoying people on planet earth–the bulbous ooze known as Chris Berman being the most egregious offender–these are nothing more than hours-long yuckfests with minimal entertainment, oft-repeated platitudes, and absolutely no insight. This is perhaps best demonstrated toward the end of these shows, right before the “experts” make their weekly predictions, when said “experts’” season picks records are posted, usually looking something like this:
The Diet Mountain Dew Code Red Picks of the Week
(through week 11)
1. KENNY 12-25
2. KEITH 11-24
3. CARL 9-26
4. BOOMER 5-21-1
Having these standings end a studio show telecast is more of a stomach punch than the endings of “The Sixth Sense” or “The Usual Suspects.” “You mean I just wasted three hours of my life listening to these experts?!?!?!?!”
Yes you did.
It’s enough to almost make you want to attend these games in person. Then again, that would create a whole new set of annoyances.
At the least, while watching sports at home, you can ignore the televised miasma with a little help from delicious craft beers that sports stadiums would never sell you. Such as the new rarer-than-I-expected Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada collaboration Life and Life. I apparently got a bottle from one of only three cases in the entire city, and I feel eternally lucky that my friend Kevin tipped me off on when and where to score some. I’d been greatly anticipating this beer as a Dogfish Head acolyte and it certainly delivered. Life and Limb is made with pure maple syrup from Sam Calagione’s Massachusetts family farm and estate barley grown on the Sierra Nevada estate and fermented with both breweries’ house yeast strains. I loved the rich smell and the brew tasted like a root beer, actually more like a birch beer in fact with it’s syrupy mouthfeel. Silky like a brown ale with a barley wine-like malty sweetness on the back end. A nice boozy bite but immenently drinkable. Well worth the cost if you locate it, I really loved this beer.