No More In-Game Coach Interviews

I already told you about one suggestion of mine to improve the quality of game broadcasts earlier this week. In case you missed it, my hope is that broadcasts allow the opportunity for the viewer to mute the microphone of a particular broadcaster, while still receiving sound from the rest of the telecast. That would be an awesome addition. Now another aspect of game telecasts that’s been killing me since it became the standard for nationally televised games are the in-game coach and manager interviews. I CANNOT STAND THOSE. I despise the 5th inning interview with the manager on ESPN and FOX. I cringe at the after-quarter interviews on TNT and ESPN. I abhor the halftime interviews with football coaches on all the networks. What brought this up and possessed me to write about it today was a post-third quarter interview on ESPN with Gregg Popovich. Pop reluctantly answered questions, Ric Bucher uncomfortably delivered them. It was about as awkward as David Wells in tights. Problem is this is more the norm than the unusual when it comes to in-game interviews.

So allow me to outline what is so horrific about these interviews and why all sports broadcasts need to end this practice. First of all, as previously mentioned, these are the most uncomfortable interviews you could possibly find. The coaches and managers all want to get back in the game, and they don’t offer anything other than crappy cliches. The broadcasters don’t want to ask questions because they know they’re completely intruding. They’re all the same; both parties act strictly out of contractual obligation. It’s like getting ex’s together for a reunion every single time.

Next, and most importantly, these interviews take all the natural competition feel out of games and make them seem like nothing but overly produced television productions. Rather than just letting both teams finish competing in their games, we have to have coaches hear from reporters DURING games asking them questions. What’s next, letting fans call plays? Why not just have a sideline reporter ask a quarterback why he threw the pass after an interception? How about pulling LeBron over to the mic to explain why he missed a jumpshot? Feel my drift? Why do we need in-game questions? They’re completely intrusive and completely unnecessary. They really ruin games for me. It just reminds why the travel rule is lax and why timeouts allow teams to take the ball out near their opponents baskets in basketball — to make it more exciting for TV.

If we continue at the rate we’re going, games will no longer be just games, but they’ll be complete television productions. I mean why even have guys play and coaches coach if we’re just going to ask questions in the middle of games? Why not just go to scripted ballgames so you can write the outcomes? Why not just televise wrestling? As far as I’m concerned, the field and court is a sacred place where TV broadcasters should not be intruding WHILE games are going on. That’s just going too far. It’s a trend that started because one network got the toy first, and then all of them decided they had to have it too. I’d like to see some of these networks realize how unauthentic and horrific these interviews look and actually get rid of them. Please, please, please get rid of the in-game interviews. I can’t take them.

How to Improve Sports Broadcasts

It’s so simple, so basic, so easy, I can’t believe it’s never come up before. I can’t believe I never before thought of this. I can’t believe no companies have actually done it! How many times have you had to press the mute button on your TV because a play-by-play guy or analyst was ruining the game for you? How many times did you wish a mild case of food poisoning would send one of the broadcasters into the bathroom for the duration of the event? I know it’s happened with me, I know it’s happened with many friends, and I certainly know there’s an entire website based on this dream, and one based on their blunders. So check it: how awesome would it be if networks allowed you the option to choose your audio feed for a game, giving you the ability to mute the play-by-play guy, the analyst, the crowd noise, whatever you want.

Imagine a world in which ESPN gave you the ability as a viewer to mute Joe Morgan on Sunday nights and just let the soothing sounds of Jon Miller tell the story. How happy would you be to hear him say, “and what do you think about that, Joe?” only to hear silence. I know that would put a smile on my face. Can’t stand homer calls by guys like Rex Hudler? Select just the Steve Physioc audio. Had enough of Bryant Gumbel botching names? Cut him out. Sick of Billy Packer pronouncing games over before halftime? No more! I might not be an audio engineer, but I know all the different audio sources are fed into the same audio mixer — the broadcasters, the crowd sound, etc. Now if they separated each of them and then allowed the viewer to choose his/her own feed of choice, how money would that be?

I know it can be done — and networks are always looking for new ways to get their audience to be interactive, so this would be perfect. They could even market a new gadget or something and get people buying special sound systems that allow this option. Whatever. I just know that sports fans across the country would be clamoring for the opportunity to hit the mute on Morgan or Madden or even Gumbel. How awesome would that be?

ESPN Dropping Sideline Reporters on Monday Night Football? Hopefully

I realize I’m doing myself a bit of a disservice hoping for such a fate, but I can’t help but speak in total honesty. Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk (via Ballhype) is saying that ESPN will be dropping sideline reports on Monday Night Football, a trend I would like to see proliferate. Sure, the job market narrows somewhat for someone like me, but honestly, what role do sideline reporters actually play? As in most assessments, the first question you must ask is what does the item/person in question bring to the table? Well, for sideline reporters, it’s the occasional injury update and interview of moderate significance. Outside of that, like 90% of sideline reports are absolutely useless.

What do they really give us? A human interest story of little interest (that can easily be told by the play-by-play or color man)? An uncomfortable and strained interview with a player or coach during the heat of battle who won’t be revealing anything interesting until after the game actually ends? An injury update that circulates through the press box anyway? Honestly, what good are they? I am in no way picking on either of Monday Night Football’s reporters, and for that, I won’t even mention their name because this has nothing to do with them. I’ve just always felt that sideline reporters were utterly useless, and this story by Florio actually seems like good news to me.

So no, don’t be mistaken, this is not a commentary on individual sideline reporters or the quality of their work; it’s strictly about the specific job. Much like Smykowski in Office Space, Lil’ Jon in rap songs, and the chilled salad fork at dinner, sideline reporters don’t bring anything to the table and are generally pointless. We could easily do without them.