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Sunday, March 19, 2006

CBS tourney coverage

This is Sunday basketblogging, so those of you who hate non-Renaissance posts (and I know you are legion) can stop reading now. But I have to post about CBS's coverage of the NCAA tournament, which has this year been well below their usual abysmal level. The problem is that the tournament is the one time of the year that many people watch basketball and so the coverage becomes positively Olympian in its focus on everything but the actual sport being televised. Of course there's the usual over-emphasis on profiling the coaches and detailing in epic terms a team's "road" to their Ithacan "dance." The halftime instant histories of the game's progress, in slow-mo and accompanied by Wagnerian anthems. Bill Raftery shouting out "onions" at odd moments like my senile grandfather. Clark Kellogg taking every opportunity to use his nonce word, "spurtability," which sounds obscene but is not (read Clark's proud etymologico-autobiography here).

But worst of all is that CBS seems to think--and maybe they're right, maybe they've done some market research on this--that the vast majority of people watching the tournament care about one thing and one thing only: upsets. It's all upsets all the time. It's even gotten to the point where the actual names of the teams playing don't matter; how many times this week have I heard a game described not as "Georgetown vs. Ohio State" but as "a number 7 vs. a number 2." It's like the games are being played by seeds rather than players: "With just under eight minutes to play, a number 7 is beating a number 2 here in Philadelphia." Here in New York City, I am in my team's natural broadcast region, which means they are the primary game that CBS covers, supposedly breaking away only for brief periods to switch us to the exciting ends of other games. Instead, today I missed about 12 minutes of the second half of my game because I was being forced to watch the entire second half of a game played by two teams that no one in the northeast cares about, simply because a lower seeded team was beating a higher. Don't they know that some people are actually watching basketball because they like a particular team and want to see them play, not because they find the mathematics of numbers greater than 6 defeating numbers smaller than 6 aesthetically pleasing?

Ok, annual anti-CBS tirade now officially over.

  • At 3/19/2006 09:31:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    It's not the mathematical angle, it's the betting angle that matters. But, yes, I've been infuriated by the cutaways too.

     

  • At 3/20/2006 04:21:00 PM, Blogger Truewit wrote…

    this is clearly the posting of the fan of a team that is consistently given a 1 or 2 seed in its bracket. isn't now?

     

  • At 3/20/2006 05:08:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    just the posting of a basketball fan, not someone who is only interested in the "story line" of upsets. Some of which aren't even really upsets, just upsets as far as the numbers are concerned, which is all CBS cares about: when a 2 seed loses to a 7 seed, is it really an upset? teams of that caliber play each other throughout the season, and lose to each other off and on depending on who is playing well.

    My point is: not all of basketball can best be analyzed or characterized in terms of whether a game is an upset or not. We need to step outside the entire upset paradigm a bit more.

     


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