Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - November 21st update

It's time for the sports media to ease off on the rumors and speculation and return to reporting. As in being thorough on a story. Sports "news" is supposed to be "news", and not positive public relations. There were two major incidents over the past week which demonstrate the need for reporting to return.

These were the Donovan McNabb contract story, and the rules changes for the Northwestern vs. Illinois football game.

I should be reading about reporters being fired or reassigned after the McNabb story was botched so badly. On Monday, it became a huge story that Donovan McNabb was signed to an $80 million dollar contract. Discussion immediately began on practically every all-sports radio and TV outlet, and throughout work places around the country as to McNabb's real value to his team and the league, and how such a contract rates against other greats of the game. It seemed improbable to many football fans.

All of a sudden, less than 48 hours later, the very same media QUIETLY started reporting that this new contract could actually be valued at as (comparably) little as $3.5 million dollars, depending upon this season and each subsequent season.

While the more recently reported deal may seem more realistic to football fans, that is far from the point. Where is the outrage?

What about the hours and hours that experienced and "expert" reporters and sports analysts spent talking to fans about the supposed $80 million dollar deal?

If I were still the Sports Director of a radio station (or held an equally responsible media position), I would have been spending time and effort to track down the "reporter" and sources of the original story, and then try and find out why he or she was not disciplined. We, the fans, have been duped one way or the other, depending upon which "report" is accurate.

I'm not willing to accept the "ooops, just kidding" approach to this story that the sports media gave me. Those fans who spent hours talking about and listening to sports shows and reactions about the supposed $80 million dollar deal wasted their time.

Now, I can understand that every sports talk host and sports anchor has little to no reason to verify every national story. But I don't understand how it took more than a day to change this story. We, the sports fans who listen, watch, read, and support our favorite sports news and talk outlets, deserve better.

Then, there was the college football game (Northwestern vs. Illinois) played at Wrigley Field on Saturday (11/20). The hype was understandable in terms of that having been the first football game played in that baseball venue in 40 years.

However, it is not the sports media's job to hype the game to that extent. It was bad enough that Illinois lost to the University of Minnesota at home the week leading into the game and lost its momentum for the season. It should have been noted that if it wasn't for this game having been scheduled for Wrigley Field, very little attention would have been given to it.

Instead, fans, especially in the Chicago area, were subjected to extensive coverage of Wrigley Field being set up for football, including the very limited room at the end of the east end zone.

Then, on Thursday (11/18), just two days before the game and after literally weeks of preparation, suddenly the Big Ten Conference decides to alter the rules and have both teams drive toward the same end zone. The teams would switch bench positions for each half. And so on.

As a result, I became angry and disappointed with the sports media for the second time during the week. Where was the outrage?

For the benefit of sports anchors, show hosts, reporters, and writers everywhere, I'll list the questions which should have been raised by this:

What advantage goes to the team which wins the coin toss and would want the wind for the 4th quarter?

What about the fans who had tickets in and near the east end zone, who paid full price and not have an opportunity to see red zone action close up?

Why do the players have to adjust to their team's bench and coaching staff being in a different location from one half to the next?

If the one end zone was considered unsafe, why did it take several days to make this decision? What was different 2 days before the game from a week earlier when the field was considered to be ready?

Since the dimensions of a college football field do not change, how was the game allowed to be scheduled at Wrigley Field in the first place?

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Instead, what did we get from the media? We got the "Let's see how this works with special rules...." approach to continue to hype interest in the game. While I can understand ESPN and ESPN Radio taking that approach, since ESPNU had the telecast, it was not only ESPN that kept up the hype.

The Big Ten Conference made this last minute "decision". Or so the media reported. Does this mean that Northwestern, the Chicago Cubs, and every other organization associated with allowing this game was fine with college players playing under "unsafe" conditions?

THAT should have been the story to discuss and write about. This was an embarrassing story that went unreported as such.

So there I was hearing, seeing, and reading about how the Minnesota Vikings could fire coach Childress if they lost on Sunday. As if that is a sports "story". Whether you are Vikings fan or not, that is not exactly a positive sports story. (In fact, it's really speculation and not a story at all!)

Worse yet, it was INSTEAD of the real story about the McNabb contract and behind the troubled Northwestern vs. Illinois game.

At this rate, my personal sports news gathering each day will come from watching and listening to certain game broadcasts and telecasts, and from looking at the standings and transactions sections only. Hopefully those will continue to be accurate.

Meanwhile, just before changing the rules for one of its games, the Big Ten football championship game, which debuts on Dec. 3, 2011, will be televised on Fox Sports, which has the rights to do so through the 2016 season. Next year's game will be in Indianapolis. No word as to whether or not both end zones will be used.

BOSTON: Maybe it's because the Red Sox were out of the race by mid-September. Or maybe it is simply a fever pitch among Boston fans. Celtics ratings on CSN New England were up 27% after its first 9 telecasts of the season, while Bruins' ratings have risen by 33% on NESN. The Bruins telecast ratings include the 2 games from Prague at the start of the season which were shown live with late morning starts, not prime time like the other games.

Those who remember the early days of ESPN will remember Jimmy Myers from doing the sports updates during the week in between programs. Sorry to report that Myers is no longer doing his weekly show on WTKK-FM Boston, having done his final show on Halloween when the station did not renew his contract. It was his work in the 70's at WBZ-TV which helped Myers land the ESPN gig. Here's hoping he will join another outlet.

St. LOUIS: WXOS 101.1 continues its ratings success story, moving up to 14th overall in the market in the most recent ratings period after less than 2 years on the air. The male 25-54 age group reflects its success, as WXOS more than tripled the audience (in that demographic) of both KFNS and KSLG combined.

Fox Sports Midwest is expected to announce the new arrangements for its Cardinals TV announcers for next season, now that it will show as many as 150 games. Word is that the delay is because of the possibility that Rick Horton is under consideration for a spot in the Washington Nationals' TV booth.

HOUSTON: Brett Dolan, one of the voices of the Astros, will call the Nov. 27th college hoops game between Houston and TCU on radio, filling in for Tom Franklin.

BANGOR: WVII-TV 7 is now 2 weeks into the initial 13 week run of its The Sunday Sports Page show which airs at 11 AM. Co-hosted by Pat Spekhardt and Brian Sullivan, the show features highlights from recent local and regional sports along with interviews and round table discussions. If successful, the show would expand into a 52 week run.

LONGWOOD VA: WMLU 91.3 has received the Virginia Association of Broadcasters "Outstanding Sports Coverage Award" for a public or non-commercial station for the second year in a row. Keenan Crump (Sports Director) and Nate Epstein (Assistant Sports Director) accepted the award. The Longwood University campus radio station airs the school's basketball and baseball games.

1 comment:

DonC said...

Dave: Thanks for asking the questions many of us are asking re; the game at Wrigley. The Chicago Bears played at Wrigley for decades without any apparent problems with the east end zone. As I recall, the field was set up to run from the right field corner to the left field corner which left room for the end zones with no concern about someone crashing into the walls. Why wasn't this configuration used instead of running the field so close to the grandstand?? It seems the mockery of having both teams drive to the same end zone on every possession could have been easily avoided