Thursday, October 05, 2006

American illness

During yesterday's NY vs LA playoff game, ESPN turned its broadcast booth into Entertainment Tonight for an inning. ESPN thought us viewers needed a break from Talkative Thorne and Phony Phillips so they put Tim Robbins in the booth so he could plug his latest movie. What on Earth is going on with that?

Earlier in the game we were subjected to a "star search" - the cameras looking for 'celebrities' in the stands. Why? This was a BIG and exciting game. Why the broadcasters figure that we fans need to know that John McEnroe or Ron Howard or whomever is at the game escapes me. But, generally these sort of things happen when there's nothing going on at field level.

The Robbins interview took things to a whole new level. I generally wouldn't care about Tim Robbins or his new movie, but during the 7th inning of a Met playoff game I found myself wishing failure on the movie and painful deaths to all involved in its making and those at ESPN who thought this was a good time to ignore what was happening on the field.

This would NEVER happen during a big game on this side of the ocean. Sports fans here are taken more seriously. I keep trying to imagine John Motson talking to Colin Firth during an FA Cup quarterfinal or whatever, but it just wouldn't happen. The BBC's headquarters would be stormed.

This is an illness in American sports, one that the sports themselves need to address. Major League Baseball should insist that the only people in the booth during a game are those who want to talk about the game.