Tag Archives: ESPN

I’d Be Safe and Warm If I Was in L.A.

I was watching a bit of Monday Night Football last night, and as usual, a number of ESPN commentators were on-site.  It never really occurred to me before, but, um, why?

Does having the pregame, halftime, and postgame pundits in the stadium add anything to the broadcast?  Has any game ever been better for it?  I can’t think of a time where I watched a studio show and thought, “you know, that is a great point.  If only he had made it with the playing field right behind him, then he’d be on to something.”

Before last night’s game, Suzy Kolber, Steve Young, Trent Dilfer, and Ray Lewis were discussing the game and making their points while the fog of their own breath floated in front of their faces.  At least, I think that’s who was there; I couldn’t tell through the scarves, hoods, hats, and gloves.  But who can blame them?  It was eight degrees at kickoff!

After the game, Young went without a hat.  Good for him?

I like Steve Young; I don’t want to see him die of hypothermia.  I don’t want any of them to die of hypothermia.  Let’s not do this anymore.  There’s no need.  It adds absolutely nothing to the coverage, and it doesn’t make the game bigger.  The game is as big as it’s going to get by itself.  You’re doing nothing but put your own people at risk.

As they like to say on ESPN: COME ON, MAN!

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You Had to Be a Big Shot, Didn’t You?

I have waxed not-so-philosophically about how I don’t care about the NHL anymore, but there was a time where hockey was my favorite sport.  Hey, I was young and it was the late 90s: everybody did regrettable things in the 90s.

One of those people doing regrettable things was a man named John Spano.  He was a Long Island native who bought the New York Islanders.  Now, you may be thinking, “wow, buying the Islanders is pretty regrettable,” and you may be right.  But no, in retrospect, what John Spano did defies any and all logic, even beyond purchasing a moribund franchise in a crappy arena.

Spano “bought” the Islanders…without any money.

* * *

ESPN’s deservedly-acclaimed “30 for 30” series aired its latest installment, Big Shot, last week.  Big Shot tells the story of Spano’s purchase of the Islanders.  It was directed by actor Kevin Connolly, best-known as “E” from Entourage.  I’ve seen like three episodes of that show, and didn’t like it, so I had no real attachment to Connolly when I tuned in.  I felt like this, coupled with the fact that I was familiar with the story’s main points (read: I remember it happening, but was too young to know or understand the details), allowed me to judge the documentary a little more fairly.

It’s certainly an interesting story (and one that couldn’t happen now, right?  I mean…right?), and one of the things that “30 for 30” does so well is tell these kinds of stories that you remember but really know nothing about.  On the whole, if you’re a hockey fan, or fascinated by business, or just enjoy a good true story, I recommend the film.

That said, I had some issues with it, because of course I did.

First and foremost, the star of the documentary was John Spano.  This made sense.  However, the “supporting actor,” so to speak, was Connolly himself.  I understand that he grew up an Islanders fan, and he wanted to tell this story, but he inserted himself into it far too much for my liking.  He conducted the interview with Spano, which is fine – as the director, the best way to steer the conversation to the topics you want is the ask the questions yourself – but Connolly received way too much face time on camera.  There was literally zero need for the cutaway to Connolly listening to a Spano response, but we had a number of them.  Nobody was sitting there watching and thinking, “this is an interesting answer; I wonder what Kevin thinks?  Oh, there he is, it seems like he understands, okay cool.”

Of course, I understand that since this is a bit of a personal story for him, he wanted to be more of a part of it.  Okay.  And if all he did was show himself conducting the interview, that would be one thing.  Except it’s not, because in addition to interviewing the main character in the story and directing the whole operation, Connolly narrated the film himself.  And let’s just say, Kevin Connolly is no Morgan Freeman.  He’s the guy who does the voiceover for Best Buy commercials.  Good for him, but like…I dunno.  It just threw the whole thing off for me.

I do, however, think that landing the interview with Spano is the most important thing that Connolly did.  He could have made the film without it – and he has said that he would have – but after seeing it, it almost seems like Big Shot without the actual “big shot” would be an exposé on Sports Center, not its own 90-minute documentary.

From Spano’s viewpoint, despite his initial reluctance, doing the film was a no-brainer.  While he certainly doesn’t come off as sympathetic, hearing it from his own mouth almost makes you feel like you understand what he was doing and why.  Almost.

In the end, like I said, it’s certainly worth watching.  If you can get past the little things that bothered me, you’ll enjoy it.  And regardless, make sure to take a look into the back catalog of “30 for 30.”  If you like sports at all, you’ll definitely find something worth your time.

Media Men Beg to Differ

Ah, Tebow.

I have absolutely nothing against Tim Tebow.  I’m not a fan, in the sense that he has never played for my favorite team so I’ve had no reason to root for him on the field, but I have nothing against the guy.  In fact, because of the crap he takes, I sometimes find myself rooting for him.

Tebow is one of the more polarizing figures in our current society.  People loved his story when he led the Broncos to a playoff win back in January of last year, but there were also people who quickly tired of his commitment to his faith.  There was also the issue of his quarterbacking ability; namely, he didn’t appear to have very much.  He’s a dangerous weapon when he’s running with the ball, however, and if you are as big as he is and can carry the football, you will have your chances to play in the NFL.

Unfortunately, Tebow is intent on being a quarterback.  He was traded to the Jets, and the 2012 season was an unmitigated disaster.  This week, he signed with the New England Patriots, and the hate-love-hate cycle began anew.

The en vogue thing is now to criticize ESPN for its obsession with Tim Tebow.  While I agree that it’s annoying to see Tebow news in April, May, and June – I think any football news before August is annoying – by talking about the coverage, all we’re doing is providing justification for more of it.

Whether you like it or not – or whether you like him or not – there is a demand out there for the Tim Tebow story.  The media backlash, and the media backlash to the media backlash, just proves the point.  It’s the sports version of the Kardashians: by talking about them, you justify talking about them.  It’s a ouroboros of stupid.

If you don’t like Tim Tebow because you feel like he rubs his Christianity in your face, that’s your prerogative.  If you don’t like Tim Tebow because he has funky throwing mechanics and isn’t a very good quarterback, that’s fine too.  If you don’t like Tim Tebow because “he hasn’t won anything,” well, let me point you to the Heisman Trophy and the national championships he won back in college.

But if you don’t like Tim Tebow because the media is obsessed with him, I’m not okay with that.  That’s not his fault.  And don’t hate on ESPN for covering him, either.  The very fact that you have an opinion on him warrants it.  That’s just how it is now.