Sports radio has long been the home of the contrived “debate”. ESPN raised the stakes in that game with First Take and then some other “confrontation shows” that are not nearly as blatantly staged as First Take. Then FS1 got in the act when it hired Skip Bayless away from ESPN and paired him with Shannon Sharpe on Undisputed. Here is why I think all of that programming is successful:
- In the current era of social media and Twitter, it is beyond fashionable to take offense at a remark or an image and then to enter the social media world and start a s[p]itstorm. In today’s world, that behavior is expected.
So, I was not really surprised when news broke that ESPN was going to “allow” a woman to do the play-by-play for the double-header game on MNF in the opening week of the NFL season. The outpouring of “outrage” was out of this world. ESPN said that Beth Mowins would do play-by-play and Rex Ryan would do color on this double-header game. You might have thought that ESPN had announced that Charles Manson and Josef Mengele would be doing the game.
Some of the twits on Twitter swore that they would hit the mute button to show that they thought that was a horrendous idea.
- Memo to Mute Button Hitters: ESPN does not care about that; they care that you are watching the game because that is how they get ratings and the ratings determine their ad revenues. Not only are you intolerant; you are ignorant; that is not a desirable exacta.
Let me try to approach this “issue” calmly. I have never heard Beth Mowins do play-by-play for a football game so I have no idea if she is good at it or bad at it. The way I think I shall discriminate between the two possibilities is to listen to her work and make my own judgment. As to one of the hot-button areas of criticism directed at Ms. Mowins – – i.e. she never played the game – – let me say that she has played exactly the same number of NFL and Division 1-A college football games as Joe Buck, Al Michaels and Bob Costas. Those three gentlemen have managed to do a bang-up job at play-by-play without benefit of strapping on a helmet on Sundays.
In the past, ESPN assigned Pam Ward to do play-by-play for Big 10 games on the network and Pam Ward was very good at that assignment. If Beth Mowins does as well as Pam Ward did, this will be a huge success for ESPN.
What is more interesting to me in this announcement is that Mowins will be paired with Rex Ryan who is also a “rookie” in the role of a color analyst. Given the nature of Ryan’s press conferences and interviews over the past 5-6 years, one should expect him to take to this role pretty easily. However, for that one game, ESPN will give “live air” to a telecast tandem with no direct experience. It should be interesting…
Speaking of ESPN, the network has also announced the schedule for the dozen or so college football bowl games that ESPN owns and operates. Indeed, these games – – generally ones that few people really care about – – are owned and operated by ESPN. The games provide the network with hours of “original content” which can also be replayed multiple times in the December timeframe. Let me give you a flavor of what I mean by games that few people really care about and ones that I will assuredly miss:
- Gildan New Mexico Bowl – 12/16/17: A Mountain West team will play a Conf USA team in this game. Sigh …
- Raycom Media Camellia Bowl – 12/16 17: A MAC team will play a Sun Belt team in this confrontation. Bleah …
- Boca Raton Bowl – 12/19/17: The MAC, Conf USA and the American Athletic Conference all have ties to this bowl game. If they played some sort of three-way game – a football ménage a trois so to speak – I would probably tune in just for the novelty.
- St Petersburg Bowl – 12/21/17: The American Athletic Conference will supply one team and Conf USA will supply the other. So what?
- Bahamas Bowl – 12/21/17: Someone from the MAC will take on someone else from Conf USA in this meaningless contest. Yawn…
- Hawaii Bowl – 12/24/17: It will be Mountain West versus American Athletic Conference in this titanic struggle.
ESPN likes to call this pre-Christmas lineup of bowl games part of “Bowl Week”. When they do, I immediately think of a porcelain bowl…
I mentioned recently that Mark Cuban admitted that the Dallas Mavericks tanked games this year to improve their draft position. There is a bit of history in the NFL that demonstrates what happens when a team there had the opportunity to tank but did not.
- In 1968, the Philadelphia Eagles were awful. Going into the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit, their record stood at 0 – 11. They were on track to have the #1 overall pick in the draft and there was this guy named OJ Simpson who was eligible for the draft that year.
- Not only did the Eagles win the Thanksgiving Day game 12-0, they returned home the next week and beat the New Orleans Saints before losing the final game of the year to the Vikings. Final record was 2-12.
- Meanwhile, in the old AFL, the Buffalo Bills staggered home with a record of 1-12-1 in 1968 so the Bills got the overall #1 pick.
- The Bills took OJ who was pretty good. You can probably win a bar bet or two with the knowledge of who the Eagles took with the second pick. That would be Leroy Keyes who was a RB from Purdue who could not make it as a RB so the Eagles played him at safety. As you might suspect the Eagles were not very good in the years following that missed draft opportunity.
Finally, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel was wondering how the quarterback-deficient Cleveland Browns could draft something other than a QB with their plethora of early draft picks:
“This is like the homeless man who wins the lottery and buys everything but a new home.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………