Thursday, July 05, 2007

TV Sports Idiocy

Two recent items dealing with sports on television makes me glad I'm no longer in the sports business full-time.

In case you hadn't heard — and considering how NBC played it, you probably didn't — the network fired longtime tennis analyst Bud Collins toward the end of June. Supposedly, though unconfirmed, by voicemail.

Collins is considered to be one of the top TV analysts in any sport and has given more than 30 years of service to the network. His name is practically synonymous with "Breakfast at Wimbledon," and there probably aren't three people alive who can match him for pure tennis knowledge. Not only that, but Collins brought a lot of wit and historical perspective to his broadcasts.

NBC is probably doing the move to save a buck or two, but it's a huge mistake because a) you alienate most tennis viewers, not exactly a gigantic bunch these days, and b) because it looks classless.

You want to get rid of Collins? Fine. Tell him this is his final year and let him go out with a farewell tour, at least partially on his own terms. Don't just dismiss him.

Collins is one of those rare broadcasters, like Vin Scully, Curt Gowdy, Dick Vitale and others, whom you may not always like to listen to but has earned the right to leave when they want to, not when some corporate ninny decides it is time. Shame on NBC.

Meanwhile, ESPN continues to waste satellite space with some competition called "Who is the most 'Now' athlete?" Yeah, I don't know what the hell that means, either.

Essentially, it's a NCAA-style tournament bracket, in which athletes of various sports in various eras face off. The ESPN talking heads analyze the matchups, and fans vote who wins. For example, last night had LaDanian Tomlison just edging David Beckham. What the criteria was, I can't fathom.

I mean, I know the summer months are a bit lean in terms of what is going on, but good grief, the marketing geniuses couldn't do better than this? Do you think the athletes in question are on the edge of their seats, hoping to be the most "now"? It's about as exciting as winning an ESPY, I suppose.

Tiger Woods vs. Muhammed Ali, in their prime? My guess is that Tiger would whip Ali on a golf course, while Ali would pound the snot out of Tiger in the ring. Other than that, I don't really know how you could compare the two.

ESPN continues to surprise me with the new depths to which it manages to sink.

NO DRIVE?: Taking the holiday off, I neglected to mention that the final two episodes of "Drive" were supposed to air last night, but it turns out, Fox yanked them anyway in favor of "Anger Management." Fox is now saying Drive will wrap up Friday, July 13. We'll see. Hey, it's still more closure than the network gave to fans of "Tru Calling."

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: I'm not a fan of most reality TV, but "Big Brother" really wants to make me gouge out my own eyes. Still, I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't let you know that the latest pile of steaming excrement returns tonight to CBS at 8 p.m., bumping back the equally awful "Pirate Master" to 9 p.m.

The only real new thing tonight is "Burn Notice" (USA, 10 p.m.), a decent show if not terribly weighty.


zodin2008 said...

ahem...soap box time:

ESPN...Hey, didn't this used to be "Sports News"? Everytime they try some awful GIMMICK (like this wretched "who's now?" competition) it makes the network look like a joke.

First of all, yes, the competition makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. I mean, T.O. is the he in this tournament because ESPN talks about him ad nauseum or because he's a great football player? Gee...I don't know and I don't care.

Now I expect morons like Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayliss to cover this tripe crap. These are two of the most annoying and awful human beings ever to cover sports. How these men can even hold a microphone is beyond me.

But the part that sickened me? Somehow ESPN manage to bully a legitimate journalist like Michael Wilbon into covering ESPN's mythological moron tournament. "PTI" is fine because it's 2 journalists arguing over the sports topics of the day--a highly entertaining show and it's real sports news in real time.

But forcing Wilbon to cover this mythical crap is insulting.

Stepping down off soap box...

There's nothing on TV tonight with "Studio 60" ending so I will be watching some movies.

Phillip Ramati said...

I hate to disillusion you, Zod, but for what ESPN pays Wilbon per year, no one is really bullying him into anything.

What ESPN is doing is turning off the average sports fan. There are plenty of legitimate sports everywhere around the world to be covered, yet a chunk of SportsCenter is devoted to tripe like this.

But then, ever since Stewy Scott became the top SC anchor, it's not as if I've taken them particularly seriously over the past several years anyway.

ryan said...

I liked the first ep of Burn Notice. It was a bit sappy in parts, which was weird for a spy show. But not bad. It has promise.

Phillip Ramati said...

It's fairly innocuous, like Monk or Psych, not a lot of depth to it, but fun.

And, hey, it's got Bruce Campbell!

hotspur said...

Re the stupid sports shows. You say these shows are time fillers. How about Australian Football (they used to cover it), track and field, and Rugby instead.

Agree with Zod about Steven Smith who is the worst ever. Can't even speak English.

Phillip Ramati said...

ESPN used to show things like Aussie football and track, but I guess with the general viewing public, they think they will get better ratings with the likes of the ESPYs.