Monday, November 13, 2006

WHEN YOU SEE A *specific game event susceptible of spontaneous description before the next snap or commercial* IT REALLY JUST GOES TO SHOW HOW *inept or in-apt logically related but totally meaningless generalization* MATTERS TO A TEAM IN THIS POSITION, AND THAT'S WHY *involved player* IS/HAS THE *arbitrary superlative/random statistic* THAT HE IS/DOES: Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. Just maybe, then, intense aggravation might prove to be the mailman and/or failed contraception of innovation. Maybe right now.

Almost a month ago, Alex provided a link to a list of the eight worst sportscasters to which sports media consumers might be subjected. Not surprisingly, a lively discussion ensued, including many suggestions for expanding the list and many a story about watching games with the audio muted or with alternative sources of commentary playing over radio. Watching the Carolina/Tampa Bay game tonight -- a spectacle of mediocre ball made worse by the Theisman/Kornheiser tandem of inanity -- I keep coming back to it: why oh why can't I just turn them off?

I'll take Mike Tirico. I like Mike Tirico. Football moves fast and I don't know every old thing about it, so I need somebody to tell me what's going on play-by-proverbial-play. He's emphatic yet unintrusive and provides the odd smattering of reflections or insights to help me understand and appreciate what's going on. A color-guy who provided deeper understanding of coverages and matchups, scheme-by-scheme, game-by-game could teach me a lot during any given contest on any given weekend.

But we don't get that. Instead we get these two noise-makers in the booth with Tirico repeating the stats piped-up from the production truck and filling airtime with random observations. They add almost no value and perpetually manage to irritate. It's a net loss. When they're talking, nine times out of ten I'd rather just hear the crowd. A Speak'n Spell hooked-up to a stream of random, arguably pertinent statistics would be as useful to me. Or an aged Labrador Retriever overfed on turkey green chile and trained to fart The Stars And Stripes Forever. I would choose -- or at least try -- almost anything else.

So, in this ultra-modern age of intraweb tubes and Pay-Per-View On Demand programming, why can't I? Run the booth audio in three layers or channels and give me a "Theisman/No Theisman" option. License content from other media covering the game and provide a palette of feeds that I could choose instead of him. Assemble a number of coverage teams that provide different emphases or viewpoints and then compensate each according to how many viewers selected their feed. Something, anything, but stop cramming the dreck down my throat.

In the era of DVR's, the internet, rapidly diversifying content delivery options and increasingly customizable user interfaces for most media, an innovation like this may well be inevitable. I'd jump on it. I'd pay a premium for it, and I've never once used pay-per-view. I'd switch cable companies to use it. Purveyors of media, take heed: act now or react later, as Tony might say, even though it's so obvious that maybe he shouldn't bother to.

/rant off.

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