Postgame Spread
You guys hangin' out? I'll hang out.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Question    

Why is it that sports networks insist on putting universally-reviled personalities in their most coveted broadcast spots?

* Billy Packer has no redeeming qualities.
* Joe Morgan is not only ignorant of the modern game, but is so proud of his ignorance that he spends time in his ESPN.com chats trumpeting his complete lack of game preparation.
* Joe Theismann has nothing to say.  Ever.  Welcome to Monday Night Football, Joe.
* I like Bill Walton.  But many others despise him, and understandably so.  No NBA announcer is more prominent.
* Tim McCarver is worse than all of them combined.  He deserves prison time for being so stupid.

I know more people who agree than who disagree.  So where are the people who counteract me and my friends?  Who are the people who love Billy Packer?  I don't think they exist.

Which is the crux of my question... who does think they belong on television?  If these people are, on the whole, not beloved by the viewing audience, who keeps trotting them out there?

* Is it network executives who look for reliability?  Do they think that the presence of an "institution" like Tim McCarver somehow elevates the importance of a sporting event?  Perhaps, but on the other hand, if a hypothetical popularity poll showed that 0% of college basketball fans liked Billy Packer, wouldn't that be exactly the kind of thing that would concern an executive?  Wouldn't an audience be more likely to switch away if the announcer isn't doing anything to keep them interested?

* Is it the production team, which wants to define a rapport with its announcer?  I'd be stunned if they were given a meaningful voice in this process.

* Is it because advertisers want to see stability?  Huh?  Why would Joe Morgan's presence determine whether VW stops buying ads on Sunday Night Baseball?  Is there some exceedingly foolish person out there, someone in charge of ad buys for ESPN, who thinks that people tune into Sunday Night Baseball in order to listen to the dulcet tones of a man who redefines the gold standard for ignorance in broadcasting?  If so, I'd like to assure that person that nobody I've ever met would decide to watch or not watch a sporting event based on who the broadcaster is.  Please disavow yourself of this idiotic notion.

Seriously though... there's a positive glut of broadcasters out there.  Baseball Tonight goes through analysts like John Daly goes through hamburgers.  So what's different about in-game analysts?  Why are they tolerated?  Someone please help me out...

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