Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Perhaps teams, leagues, and schools are learning the importance of preventing speculation and getting to an actual announcements. Maybe it's the TV networks getting on top of actual sports "news" stories in hopes of increasing their audiences just as showing live games is doing. Or, it could be a combination of both.

It is no secret to readers of The Broadcast Booth over the years that "speculation" stories are tarnishing the image of many sportscasts. The "Such-and-such is reporting that (name of player) will sign with Baltimore....." ramblings that take up sports "reporting" time instead of the station or reporter gathering his or her own confirmations or denials have made it a challenge to get actual sports "news" when it happens.

Finally, some TV sources are doing something about "speculation" stories, by making it known when the actual "news" or "announcement" will be made, and then providing live coverage.

The Peyton Manning Press Conference on Wednesday (3/7) was a great example of what needs to happen more often. This is an important story to NFL fans all over the country. Yet, I'm among those who found myself (as a fan) tired of nothing but "speculation" stories for weeks and weeks. In this instance, a press conference by the Colts was announced for Noon ET specifically regarding Manning. After nearly tuning out this story from week after week of "Look for Manning to be released...." or "Manning will likely sign with......" speculation, we finally were told exactly what the Colts were going to do.

During the morning hours leading in to the press conference, both NFL Network and ESPN were heavily promoting their live coverage of this announcement. Some sports radio stations around the country also carried this. On one hand, it is too bad it has come to this. Setting this up ahead of time took away any spontaneous reaction that used to happen when only actual "news" stories were announced.

On the other hand, doing it via press conference meant that NFL fans could avoid speculation stories all morning, and simply tune in to their chosen source to learn the actual news. That's a positive. Here's hoping that the next "news" story about Peyton Manning comes when he actually signs with another team (or retires if that's his choice).

But I know it won't happen. The supposed "reporting" media is already filling up time and space with "This team and that team would be the best fit". Sportscasts are becoming too much like weather forecasts. Too many educated guesses, and no backlash every time an "expert" is wrong. The difference is the weather HAS TO BE a prediction. Sports news does not and should not be.

I'd rather wait patiently for the time and channel of Manning's press conference to announce either a signing or his retirement, and not waste time with pure speculation. It doesn't help us (as sports fans) to know a few days in advance where he will sign since nothing happens until it becomes official. And it only hurts every time such speculation is wrong. Credibility is still important among reporters. All they need to do is "report", and they'll be fine.

The same should apply to these next few days as the NCAA Tournament selections come to fruition on Sunday evening. We don't need to have every conference game end with announcers speculating that "(Name of school) could now be a 3-seed and go out west". Just tell us that we'll know after 6 PM on Sunday.

CBS will have the actual unveiling of the pairings, and has been promoting that, as expected. Considering that CBS, as well as partners TBS, TNT, and TruTV, will be showing every NCAA Tournament game live again this year, something that college hoops fans have dreamed of and clamored for year after year until it came to fruition.

Yet, ESPN promises 13 hours of bracket "coverage" on Sunday. Sure, I prefer live programming as much as anyone, but announcing "coverage" prior to the actual announcement is speculation, no matter how accurate it may prove to be. All it takes is the "Oh, (name of school) has been sent out east", and it screws up hours of mere speculation, making viewers/listeners realize their time was wasted.

Just give us the pairings, and THEN we can all react to the matchups, as well as the specific schedule of when and where each game will be on.

A curious decision by the NFL Network earlier this week. To its credit, NFL Network did not run and hide from the major story about whether or not the New Orleans Saints players have participated in a "bounty" plan to injure opposing players over the past couple of seasons. A good portion of its news coverage was devoted to the issue, including footage from key Saints games. Yet, on Monday (3/5), the Network had originally scheduled to show a recent Saints vs. Vikings playoff game in one of its "classic game" telecasts. However, NFL Network instead aired a Dallas Cowboys game from the 90's.

From what I have learned, the majority of cable/satellite systems which have indicators as to what program is being shown continued to have the Saints telecast as scheduled. This means that NFL Network made this "decision" not to air a Saints playoff game (from during the 'bounty' period) too late to change the original schedule. It would seem to indicate that the decision to air another, and much less controversial, game was made after the bounty story had broken.

College football fans will enjoy this tribute to several of the leading announcers who broadcast for one school for many years:

This is a well done presentation for those who did or did not get to enjoy the likes of Larry Munson, Cawood Ledford, and several others.

SAN FRANCISCO: While KNBR 680 continues its strong ratings, the station has announced it will continue to air Giants baseball through at least the 2018 season. Credit the Giants for being a part of the announcement. Team President Larry Baer appeared on the station's Murph & Mac Show to help make the announcement, realizing the large audience of sports fans the station continues to reach. Compare that to the situation in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers games are now being heard (starting this season) on KLAC 570, which just about requires a telescope to find in the ratings book. KLAC's hosts might need to call out to get reaction to Dodgers broadcasts.

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