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A Seth Pohorence Pop-Ed: The Joys of Sports Television at Its Finest

For those of you who like sports, you probably watched the NFL conference title games this past Sunday. In a rather bland showing, the Denver Broncos defeated the New England Patriots. But all the ballyhoo before and after was about the NFC title match: the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers.

I’m not here to break down the X’s and O’s — I’m here to point out the unintentional humor of sports broadcasting. I broadcast sports for a living. This has been my dream job since I was 12 years old and realized I wasn’t going to play centerfield for the Cleveland Indians. So I watch tons of sports instead and know the in’s and out’s a little.

Sports broadcasting executives think that getting the fans as close to the field is the greatest insight into the game. If only this worked for football. There is no easier job than being a sideline reporter who asks very simple questions to football players and coaches. It all changed on Sunday night. 

Richard Sherman, all hopped up on adrenaline and maybe Mountain Dew, went all over the FOX cameraman and Erin Andrews. Personally, I'm not bothered by Sherman getting emotional after preventing his team from blowing a remarkable comeback. If I were him, I would still be charged up. It was an intense game. The humor comes from how quickly Andrews wanted to bail on that interview. I don’t know if it was her or someone from the truck instructing her to send it back up to the booth, but it was awkward and humorous.

I won't argue whether Sherman should have said what he did or not. Really the question is why do we need to ask these guys anything immediately following a game? Now, knowing Sherman is a very vocal cornerback, he offers up some soundbites. Yet following titles being won we always get very vanilla statements. You always got that from guys like Tim Duncan, because that’s who he is.

We want these immediate soundbites, which is the big thing in the industry now, but we don’t consider the game factor. You try interviewing a guy all pumped up, it can be interesting.

Point in case, this past weekend, Claude Giroux, following a Philadelphia Flyers win on Philly’s CSN, dropped some f-bombs directed at an opponent just as the post-game interview was going on live. Again, this was following a comeback win for the Flyers.

This is, of course, better than most post-hockey game interviews featuring those statements said in a half-comatose state explaining they executed the game plan and didn’t give up.

The NFL has that 10-minute cool down rule with most interview situations. This allows the players to rehearse their lines from Bull Durham, “It’s a team effort. Just taking it one game at a time.” Yet it’s not always effective.

Sports have tried using the five-second delay. CBC was notorious for using that on Don Cherry during his Coach’s Corner segments on Hockey Night In Canada broadcasts. This was mainly done to make sure he didn’t offend women (which he does every three months) or Quebec separatists (which he does every year). It’s like watching your grandfather go off on things that don’t affect most people in real life.

Speaking of grandfather things, sports have given Americans a great perspective of live racism. Granted this was not a post-game interview but Al Campanis, a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers front office, told Nightline in 1987 that African-Americans lacked the skills to be managers, general managers or other front-office officials. This was live ... Ted Koppel almost shorted a circuit.

Sports broadcasts provide us with so much awful insight in games. From Terry Bradshaw’s inability to pick winners to ESPN’s inability to weed out offensive banners on College Gameday to hearing Ryan Howard drop an f-bomb fouling a pitch off, we learn more than just strategy and Tim Tebow’s religious beliefs. We must thank those executives for giving us those parabolic mics picking up “Omaha.” We thank them for putting Suzy Kolber and her overpowering sex appeal out there to get horny Joe Namath’s juices flowing. We thank them for telling Erin Andrews to ask Richard Sherman what went into that last play for the Seahawks defense. We thank you guys for this great, great, great humor.
A Seth Pohorence Pop-Ed: The Joys of Sports Television at Its Finest Reviewed by Seth Pohorence on 1/22/2014 Rating: 5

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