Watching Sports Is Mostly Boring…Talking And Speculating About Sports Is Riveting!!

Posted: February 22, 2011 in General Sports

One of the themes I always try to include in my rants is this “live your life through the windshield, not the rear view mirror” Every time I sit down to write a new rant…it’s a new rant. I don’t really care what happened yesterday…move on! You can be lit up by what I wrote last time out, I don’t really care. “Live your life through the windshield, not the rear view mirror”.

A lot of things use to be cool in sports that are not cool anymore. It use to be like memorizing stuff “oh my god, Bob knows like the starting 5 for …”Now Bob’s a nerd, it’s called the internet, I can look it up in 2 seconds.

Being like a sports junkie, there use to be a cache to it. “oh my god, that guy knows everything!” Pfft, yeah so do I, it’s called the internet. I can find the starting rotation for the Oakland Athletics in 1975 just like you can. I just don’t have to memorize stuff and keep all my Sports Illustrated copies. That use to be super cool! But the internet changed it.

Something else that used to be cool was when you’d say the word limousine and you’d be like “oh my god, that guy there uses a limo” Ordinary business people now use it when travelling to the airport. Not because its elite, but since airports charge too much to park, it’s more cost efficient to rent a limo. Limos are no longer elite, they are just cost efficient. By the time a limo picks me up and takes me to the airport and charges me, it’s less than leaving my car at the airport for six days, trying to find my car at the airport, its freezing when I get off the plane….it doesn’t make any sense! For the record, I’m not getting paid by any limo companies to even say this!

I read an article this past week – and this is why I’m talk about this. Jeff Pearlman, who writes for the Wall Street Journal, wrote an interesting article on – and Fox Sports, ESPN, Sportingnews.com, are partly to blame for it and perhaps are the ones who inspired it. So Jeff Pearlman says “I was on an elliptical machine at the gym, I was riveted by the coverage of the Tennessee Titans search for a new head coach. I haven’t seen the Tennessee Titans play an entire football game in at least a decade” Continues Pearlman “I can name maybe 4 players on the roster, 3 without Vince Young. Yet for some reason when Josh Elliott, ESPN anchor mused, I was fascinated. I refused to leave the exercise machine until I knew every detail” Says Pearlman, brilliant writer for the Wall Street Journal “Watching sports is mostly boring, talking and speculating about sports is riveting” I absolutely agree with him (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703584804576144273897126128.html)

I was told by someone who is in the sports writing business – 20+ years of experience, he said “you need to mirror your audience” You don’t want to be a sports junkie in front of the TV, because your audience isn’t. For example, 9% of my audience consider themselves a diehard, 65% percent of you…casual sports fans. If I’m a nerd and you’re not a nerd, you won’t read my rants!

So what ESPN and all those big networks have done, good or bad, they’ve become a tree topping industry. Look up any talk radio personality’s bio on Wikipedia, it’s probably not 100% right, but they’re probably close enough and that’s exactly what’s happened in sports. I know it drives people crazy. When I first started ranting, I said it 2 years ago that the Red Zone Channel is the smartest thing I’ve ever seen invented in my lifetime in the television business. I don’t know why ESPN or Fox Sports don’t just copy it.

They take away all the irrelevant stuff – I don’t know why it isn’t done for college football either. Red Zone channel on a Sunday, I sit there, grab a notepad because I do consider myself a sports analyst and it’s how I bring you these rants on a weekly basis, so I have to take notes. They do all the work, I pour a soft drink, they edit out the boring stuff and yet I get 16 games. I get all the good stuff, there is no cache, there is no real reason to know all the boring stuff because I’m not going to reply back to your comment if you’re going to talk about some irrelevant play. I’ll reply to those who talk about the biggest stuff! The Red Zone channel is the smartest thing ever.

It used to be that knowing everything about sports was like really cool. But it just doesn’t work that way anymore, we live in a tree topping, cliff note society.  It’s the same thing with Wikipedia, they’re close enough, the blogs cover a story….they are close enough as well. I got into an argument with a friend on what sports source would die first, radio or newspaper. Turns out I was right; the newspaper industry is on the verge of death. Now, it’s not because they all of a sudden became dumb, it’s just that nobody has time to read as much in the morning.

My audience [snapping fingers] that’s why I give you the tree top and never a break down analysis of a game. Like last week Thursday, I get home from school. I see one of my roommates and said to him “hey, how was your day?” I don’t want to know about how he parked his car or when he opened up the garage door. This is also known as [snapping fingers] “give me the highlights” How was your day? Good mood or bad mood?

Can’t we all admit that the worst guy in the world is the guy who comes up to tell you a story; he’s 7 minutes into the story and has told you nothing! We’ve all got a friend like that and the guy just doesn’t get it…doesn’t get it! And he drives you crazy. So Jeff Pearlman over at the Wall Street Journal – and for the record, do you know why it takes courage to write what Jeff Pearlman writes? Do you know why? Let me give you a little secret that the sports writer I know said to me.  “Nobody wants to admit that they don’t sit and watch all the games because everyone wants to be an expert” Jeff Pearlman goes out and basically says “yeah, I like talking about sports and watching the highlights, but I don’t sit and watch college basketball games all day” Thank you Jeff Pearlman!! You know what? That’s me and I’ll be the first one to acknowledge it. I love being a tree topper, I’m a cliff noter, and I’m close enough and proud to be one. That’s the majority of my audience, I love you for it, it’s why I’ll always have fun writing rants that make you think and that add a little perspective as well.

By the way, if I’m ever in a situation where I need to go deeper or I need to know more, I can simply ask and will ask for clarification. If I really want to know something, I’ll ask my friends/family. But I’m officially with Jeff Pearlman of the Wall Street Journal on this. Society has evolved, blame ESPN/Fox Sports, perhaps they inspired it or created it. I am a cliff note, tree topper…not embarrassed that I don’t know, because I’ll go to the internet if I really need to know, it doesn’t bother me whatsoever!

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Comments
  1. Mike Crack says:

    Interesting. I think we’ll see an increasing movement towards this type of sports reporting/broadcasting. I remember reading an article in the Toronto Star saying how today’s average young hockey fans are much different than the fans of yesteryear. They don’t watch the entire game, they just walk by the TV every now and then and ask what the score is. If a goal is scored, they’ll come and check out the replay. The attention span of today’s typical youth is short and there are so many electronic distractions that it’s hard for them to take in a 60 minute game that is really a 2.5 hour broadcast. They want immediate action.

    Your point about RedZone is great. It satisfies the immediate appetite of today’s people. And I definitely agree that RedZone-type channel would be amazing for college football. There are so many more games and the games are more likely to be blowouts than pro games, so it switching from game-to-game would work quite well.

  2. Its definitely a growing trend that your noticing in the sports networks. Instead of going to that one analyst they always bring on the show they have various ones. Even former players are now getting gigs. Not to say they don’t deserve it – because they probably bring you the best in-action analysis that no analyst who hasn’t been a former player can bring you, but the reporting and speculation is what drives the bus in the business now!

    Attention is probably the most sought out human element when it comes to selling you information. The hasteness and availabilty of various sources for information, means you don’t necessarily have to watch the entire game to then talk about it with your friends the next morning. Read a 600 word analysis or download the podcast or do what I do….sleep with your radio dialed to Fox Sports/ESPN all night and your bound to hear an analysis of the game you missed!

    If they only did that for college football, I’d watch that channel all day Saturday during colllege football season.

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