Sports Outside the Beltway

ESPN Football Coverage Sucks

About a year ago, I explained why Monday Night Football on ESPN Sucks. After watching the network’s college football coverage the last two weeks, though, I think we can strike the “Monday Night” from that: They suck all the time now.

The last two Saturday nights, the Alabama Crimson Tide has been on ESPN. Since I don’t live in Alabama any more, that used to be a good thing, since it meant I got to see the games. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true anymore, since ESPN is apparently now run by the people who bring us the Olympics and decided long ago that people aren’t actually interested in the sporting events being covered but, rather, other stuff.

Last week, Alabama played Arkansas in a roller coaster game. Alabama went up by three touchdowns, let Arkansas back into the game, went up by three touchdowns again, and then collapsed to give Arkansas a big lead. Alabama fought back, though, to a thrilling victory with just 8 seconds left on the clock.

A pretty exciting game, right?

Apparently, though, ESPN didn’t think people tuned in late on a Saturday night to watch a college football game would find that stimulating enough. So, they brought in some gal from the women’s soccer team, which were in the middle of a big tournament overseas. And they yapped with her, via telephone no less, for several minutes right during the most critical part of the first half game action. No play-by-play of the game. Often, no cameras on the game, either, since fans would obviously rather see close-ups of the idiot game announcers and a picture of the head of the woman’s soccer player who wasn’t even in the damn booth.

And it got better.

We got to hear about Todd Blackledge’s adventures eating barbecue in Tuscaloosa. With actual footage of him looking at the menu and ordering food. While the game was on!!!

And, to top it off, they brought the annoying woman soccer player back in the second half to interrupt yet more game action.

Last night, Alabama and Georgia played in another close, exciting game that went into overtime.

Again, however, the cameras were on the announcers almost as much as on the game action. Again, we got treated to watching Blackledge eating grilled meat, this time at the pre-game tailgating parties. And some old announcer guy who’s so frail he can’t actually travel one state over to watch a football game was on the telephone for like half an hour yapping about his career while we were missing live football action.

The producers are also too inept to manage game breaks and commercials. Several times, we missed kickoffs, major plays, and other game action because they switched over to show ads or update us on other games and didn’t get back in time. And, each time, they pretended that it hadn’t happened, blithely carrying on as if we hadn’t missed anything.

I’ve been watching football on television for more than thirty years now. I’ve watched local games sponsored by local insurance companies that were better. I’ve literally never seen coverage as bad as what ESPN has put on the last two weeks. It’s absolutely frustrating.

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They do an equally bad job with auto racing. They are utterly horrible at everything they do.

Posted by Bill H | September 23, 2007 | 10:08 am | Permalink

Dead on analysis. I have ESPN gameplan. When they are not being blocked in an attempt to try and make you buy a PPV game you’ve already paid for on the Gameplan, coverage is actually reasonable. However when the game is broadcast is on ESPN or ESPN2 the coverage has been horrible. I know we should all be ashamed that we didn’t support the women’s soccer team more, but interupting the game with that nonsense was inexcusable. I think the point was to build interest in the women’s tournament but the lead in that she was a Tide fan was ridiculous. She briefly lived in Alabama and did not attend UA. Her parents and siblings all atended rival SEC schools. If they want to tie-in stuff like that fine but do it at half time. ROLL TIDE

Posted by Phillip Burch | September 23, 2007 | 10:55 am | Permalink

I thought the same as you. I did not tune in to watch all the other stuff they were covering. If I wanted to know about baseball, soccer, or hear the retired announcer from Ga. radio, they should skip the commercials and put that on.

Posted by bamafloyd | September 23, 2007 | 12:17 pm | Permalink

You are right on the money. Even college football is too tough for them to report on these days. It is as if ESPN forgot /how/ to cover sports. Tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup was decided before the kickoff by the idiotic ESPN three-man crew in the booth. Yes, the Pats are doing well but we don’t need all the Patriot-worship from the booth. Then we had the ESPN baseball, basketball, and whatever else updates.. not during breaks or timeouts, but in the middle of plays! And cap it off with ESPN showing the booth every few minutes to remind us that Kornheiser was there.. as if we needed any reminder over the sound of his fingernails-on-chalkboard voice. Don’t even get me started on their coverage of yesterday’s Kansas 400 NASCAR race. What ever happened to giving the play-by-play.. to NOT injecting useless personal opinions but rather sticking to facts and stats.. to covering the game and not the “personalities” in the booth? ESPN needs to fire the whole MNF crew.. start over with their NASCAR coverage.. and rethink their approach to college football before they become a failure at that too.

Posted by Eric Jefferson | October 1, 2007 | 10:46 pm | Permalink


They interrupted the games with that “30 on the 30″ BULLSHIT.


Posted by Shannon | October 2, 2007 | 04:54 pm | Permalink

Does anyone have a telephone number to call them and complain. I am sick and tired of the completely stupid commentary and coverage of Monday Night Football. Kornheiser just asked if anyone was still watching the game as they all joked around in the booth with Jimmy Kimmel. Well, given that it’s still 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter and only an 11 point game, the only people not interested in seeing the game appear to be the commentators. I would love to call ESPN and complain, but can’t find a customer service number anywhere. Go figure–they don’t want to hear.

Posted by Lisa | October 15, 2007 | 09:41 pm | Permalink

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