A Lopsided Broadcast
August 6 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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I donít think Iíve ever spoken out about a networks broadcast of a game before, but after watching ESPNís broadcast of the 49ers/Redskins America Bowl, I just have to speak out. Never in my life have I seen such bad coverage of a game, and it wasnít just the commentators; there was much more that I felt was lacking too.
Commentators are rarely as one-sided as they were in this broadcast. While I think that it was ridiculous how much praise they had for Washingtonís first string offense beating up on the 49ers fourth string defense, I can deal with them being one sided. But their idle chit-chat about nothing between plays was worse than John Madden talking about eight legged turkeys. The commentating crew was so uninvolved with the game, that they mistakenly called Tai Streets, JJ Stokes, and were so caught up in sideline interviews that they did very little commentating on what was happening on the field, likely forgetting that a football game was actually be played in front of them. Of course, their dismay for having to Ďcallí a pre-season game became abundantly clear as the 49ers tried to run an effective two minute offense at the end of the game. The commentators actually complained about the time-outs the 49ers were calling in order to get rookie quarterback Brandon Doman a few more snaps. Do they not realize itís their job to not only make the game interesting, but not to complain that the game is taking too long? Iíd hate to hear what they would have said had this game entered over time.
If you wanted to see instant replay, I hope you were taping the game. ESPN neglected to replay several big plays by both teams, leaving fans watching the game to wonder who was making the plays (especially late in the game, when depth players were doing their best to catch the attention of coaches). Of course, the announcers would neglect often neglect to mention who made the play too.
The camera angles were terrible too. Although they were able to follow the ball, nearly the entire game was viewed from an angle that made the game look especially distant.
In every football game there is an abundance of commercials. That of course has come to be expected over the years. But the amount of cuts away from the game, and the timing of them, as they were poorly timed, was simply ridiculous.
ESPN has a long way to go before they can claim they are ready for the 2002-3 season. Lucky for them, they will have a few more tries this pre-season to get it right.