Monday, April 2, 2012

One Reason, Two Gaffes, Two Sports

Two different networks carrying major sporting events over the weekend forgot to simply serve viewers and stumbled as a result.

First up was CBS Sports, which lost its handle on the Final Four game between Kansas and Ohio State on Saturday night by using an inconsistent approach that led to missed action and non-existent context.

The problems started on consecutive trips down the floor for Kansas -- when an apparent foul by Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger was left alone on one trip and a different foul, which appeared a little less harmful than the first, drew the attention of game officials. Unfortunately, even with a stoppage in play CBS did not provide a replay of either incident.

It was in interesting choice because the broadcast team had done such a good job earlier in the game of detailing how a Kansas foul was whistled on the wrong player, and then detailed that the use of video to correct the mistake was not allowed under NCAA rules.

That seemed like an interesting and strong start to the broadcast. Unfortunately, the end of the game did not live up to those standards.

Most egregiously, the confusing final seconds of the game were totally whiffed. As OSU guard Aaron Craft committed a lane violation when trying to quickly launch and rebound a free throw, CBS went to a replay of what happened rather than sticking with live action as KU inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.

There was no controversy on the floor -- the referees made the correct call in that instance -- but CBS missed the action. There was plenty of time for a replay and some context about what happened after the game ended. It's a shame that's not how it happened for viewers.

Context was where another TV partner failed Sunday afternoon. Fox Sports provided coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race in Martinsville, Va., and it got ratings and viewership gold with a competitive short-track race until the final laps.

When Clint Boyer drove hard into the bottom of the first turn and got underneath leaders Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson during a late-race restart, the outcome seemed obvious -- an ugly wreck was about to happen. That's exactly what followed, cars were all over the track, and Ryan Newman eventually survived after another restart to get the victory.

Still, an earlier incident, when David Reutimann stopped on the front stretch, forcing the restart when Boyer made his calamitous move, was where Fox Sports failed.

The network's commentators offered all kinds of opinions, even ''oohs" and "aahs," regarding the accident. That might not have been good work, but it was certainly expected.

Conversely, even with Reutimann's team owner (Michael Waltrip) as part of the broadcast crew, any insights about what happened with that car were missing. Waltrip told viewers it's never clear or easy to know what might be happening in a car during a race, but that was not enough. C'mon, he's the team owner. It was interesting that he did not vehemently defend his driver while some speculated what could've happened. Even if he was not in the pits or on the radio, he's the owner, he's a proven driver in the series, something more was expected.

Thankfully, Fox did get a post-race interview with an emotional and defensive Reutimann who said he had hoped to get his car off the track, but that it broke before he could. Best of all, he provided the necessary context, that he was still running, even nearly 60 laps down, in an effort to gain points and remain among the top 35 in series points -- a cutoff point that guarantees a team a starting spot from week to week.

You'd have thought that context would've crossed the mind of Waltrip, who was already sitting in the broadcast booth. It's a shame that viewers could not have gotten that sooner.

1 comment:

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