Sunday, June 3, 2007

ESPN and CBS Serve Up a Banquet of Baloney

I wish ESPN would just let Larry Rawson and Dwight Stones do their thing. They've forgotten more than I'll ever know about track and field and they would be fully capable of announcing a world-class meet in a world-class way if they were ever allowed to do so.

Instead, the producers at ESPN insist on showing those stupid human-interest clips even when the subject (Anthony Famiglietti) of the feature story then proceeds to lose the race by over 50 (!) seconds, they keep cutting to commericials during the middle of longer races, they keep an Americacentric focus during post-race interviews even when the Americans lose (did you catch the way Lewis Johnson shoved Canada's Tyler Christopher aside after asking him a quick question or two about his fine 44.93 victory in the men's 400m dash so that he could focus on Lashawn Merritt?), and – worst of all – they insist on showing major meets like the Reebok Grand Prix on tape delay. Reebok, as it is every year, was a fine meet (5 world bests this year and one could-have-been world record in the men's 100m dash), but that laundry list I just provided prevented the broadcast yesterday from being enjoyable and made the coverage (certainly not the meet) irrelevant.

The pathetic, measly hour of tape-delay coverage provided today by CBS is hardly even worth mentioning except to say that they had two commericial breaks without showing even a single race during those two segments! Utterly worthless.

I purposefully stayed away from the Reebok website (okay I peeked at the men's 200m results. Came you blame me?) because I knew the results were being posted near-real time and I didn't want to spoil the "enjoyment" of the tape delay. Can you imagine ever having to watch an NFL game on tape-delay? That's never going to happen in a million years.

Yet I'm told by too many track fans that I just have to accept the reality that track is a second-rate sport in the U.S. and I just have to "be grateful for the plateful." Well, my friends, that plate is full of baloney and it is being served by ESPN and CBS who, yet again, failed to deliver decent coverage of a major track and field meet in the United States. I can hardly wait to see what kind of fare NBC offers with the Prefontaine Classic next weekend. It couldn't be more putrid than the rotten coverage ESPN and CBS served up this weekend.

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