This Ain't Your Dad's Sports Report
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I'm old enough to know the good old days personally. And I'm talking about the good old days. Like the ones that put the Old in Old School.
I remember waiting for the local sports to come on the local news at night. It was all we had back then. I had to sit through the stupid cat-up-a-tree, fire-hydrant's-broken, mayor-found-in-the-bordello local news and weather, but then at 11.20pm, right on the nose, it was time for sports. Three minutes of it. All the scores, and if I was lucky, there would be highlights of a few games. What a huge treat that was!
So how did all that minimalism turn into all this largesse?
I remember thinking when we got cable: Wow! Sports, 24/7! I must have been dreaming, for sure. Well, let's all be careful what we dream about. Yes, there is a 24/7 sports station. More than one, actually, but there is a certain bellwether 24/7 sports station. And how does it deliver 24/7 worth of sports? We all know now; it replays the same show over and over and over.
It's got to be a smash for the tweaker-and-cheetos demographic, but that's about it.
Yes, we still get a fresh highlight or two every now and then, but after that, it's straight downhill. Almost as low as Japanese reality TV, where American reality TV has nearly sunk.
I, too, have realized that it's sucked me down to that level, too. How do I know? I can't believe it, but I just wasted 30 minutes of my time watching a show that had four people who were never talented enough to play, never knowledgeable enough to coach, and certainly never thick-skinned enough to officiate, giving their opinions on what the Michigan coach could have done better in order to win the NCAA championship game. They even proffered what they would have said to the Wolverines at halftime! Yeah, they criticized Bielein's halftime speech, as if they had more insight that the guy who recruited and coached them during their entire college careers! Then these guys critiqued the officials of the championship game and, as they had time to kill, the umpire of an MLB game!
When did this transformation in sports take place? Blame prime-time TV production costs. The cost of writing and producing drama series has gone to Pluto, and the problem with them is they don't attract general interest audiences anymore. Comedy? How hard is it to be truly funny these days? Apparently, expensively hard.
Sports TV is much cheaper programing. Even with crazy rights fees, sports is more economical than most other forms of video content and can still draw a general interest audience.
And the advertisers clamor for more. That's why pre-game shows are now at least an hour. Those are even cheaper to produce, especially when talking heads and video clips are the only elements involved. They don't really have enough informaton to credibly cover that much time, so we just get more talking heads telling us who they think will win and why in generalizations that would make fortune tellers cringe.
I know I am old. All I want is the scores and highlights. I want sports anchors to report the sports. I don't need them to think they are famous. I don't need for them to trend out a cool catch phrase. No desire to hear them say "that QB's salary is almost as high as a black cat's back on Halloween." Enough already!
And yes, I know there's a 30-minute sub-channel. Please refer to the over and over and over comment above. Then refer to the paragraph immediately above. There's no escape. It's insidious.
Except cyberspace. I'm glad I'm not so old I can't click a mouse. A New School mouse. No wonder I'm here.