I was watching the World Cup today (specifically, the Ivory Coast-Portugal game, whilst enduring the incessant reminders that “Christiano Ronaldo is hot”. Yes, ladies, we know he is, no need to state the obvious, just watch the game.), and after the match and the post-game, SportsCenter, the erstwhile flagship program of ESPN’s networks. What I saw showed once again how far SportsCenter had fallen.
After two World Cup matches (including the first World Cup points in a nation’s (New Zealand’s) history, sparking the Kiwis to go completely nuts, and the return of Didier Drogba after his broken arm) and before Game 6 of the NBA Finals, what were the three top stories? Stuff about NFL football (but that was another post) and one about the realignment of the Pac-10.
That’s the big problem with SportsCenter – it chooses the top stories that really, really aren’t. I don’t even like basketball, yet I consider the NBA Finals very important – after all, it’s the championship of the top basketball league in the world, with the Boston Celtics poised to win an 18th championship. And while the “Family of Networks” is fairly successfully pimping out the NBA Finals, they aren’t doing it on SportsCenter.
Mind you, there isn’t much better. While I give insane heaps of praise to MLB Network’s programming, Hazel Mae and her Quick Pitch show just rubs me the wrong way and MLB Tonight just isn’t on enough. Versus’ programs The Daily Line and Sports Soup are barely sports highlight shows. FSN’s The Final Score is probably the next best thing, but it took me about ten minutes to remember its name.
But while SportsCenter is the only game in town (or if not the only, the lesser of evils), it’s gotten worse since the days of Olbermann & Patrick, Steiner & Kilborn, or even Stuart Scott & Linda Cohn. The anchors try far too hard to be funny (Dari Knowkah is definitely no Stuart Scott, and that frankly ain’t saying much). Many of the commentators (read: Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd) simply rub me the wrong way. And the football – all of the football! I know I’ve waxed prosaic about it, but it’s June and there’s still more football coverage than baseball coverage! June!!
Simply put, if SportsCenter could get back to the old days – where there was more coverage of all things sports, when there were wittier anchors, and when there was Barry Melrose with a browner mullet – ESPN would be a better place. But for now, it’s the victim of the Tuesday Afternoon Stuff I Dislike.
And could they bring back Chris Berman on a regular basis, for goodness’ sake?