Sports Commentary 7/19/13
More good , than not so good in ESPN’s Coverage of the Open Championship
IT’S THE GOLF, STUPID
This is going to sound like a complaint about ESPN’s coverage of the Open Championship but, really, it’s not, just a suggestion. You work to your strengths and, unfortunately, not every golf tournament, particularly the majors, can be like the Masters, which controls it’s own broadcast and severely limits the amount of commercial time each hour, making it the most watchable of all golf tournaments. The beauty of any golf tournament is they all come with none of the breaks in the action that bog down other sports. Even if play stops one place on the course for an official
ruling, or if there’s a backup at a particular tee, unlike the sometimes unbearable waits for replay rulings in football, pitching changes in baseball and the often ridiculous use of timeouts and fouls in games already out of the bag that make the last twenty seconds of basketball games take twenty minutes to play, in golf there is never any reason for the viewing audience to be removed from the action. There is always play impacting on the outcome going on somewhere on the course, always something compelling happening. The action is never more compelling that it is in a major championship, with the undisputed best in the world making their best shots under the most extreme amounts of pressure. The networks should never feel compelled to force feed this sport to their audience. The viewers are there for one reason. They like golf, they like to watch it on T-V. If I have one complaint about the ESPN coverage it’s their habit of breaking away from the action to present pre packaged features. Such features serve a purpose, in the event of weather delays that force a halt to all action and a need for air product, but the best golf telecasts feature pre packaged features that never get out of the production room, particularly with ESPN golfcasts. This is where this actually turns into praise for the all sports network. With the always solid Mike Tirico and the always insightful and easy on the ears Paul Azinger, ESPN has developed the best, and least pandering, anchor team in televised golf. Any broadcast team that includes Sean McDonough is always well prepared and one step ahead of the action. ESPN’s greatest strength comes when it keeps the audience on the course with the narration of the sport’s most competent and understated story tellers. For the most part watching the Open Championship on ESPN has been a pleasure, if only they can figure out a way to make the nut without having to break for so many commercials, an unfortunate hazard of the business. Leave it to the story being written by the professionals and narrated by the professionals. No one tunes in to see how ESPN puts together a telecast, they came for the golf. ESPN is at it’s best when it’s live. Save the canned features for a rainy day. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.