Broadcasters keep forgetting their audiences aren’t stupid

Broadcasters keep forgetting their audiences aren’t stupid

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One wonders if anything would be different if 21st century sports TV execs discovered that we’re not nearly as stupid as they figure we must be.

In the second quarter of Saturday’s Ravens-Texans playoff game, Houston’s Steven Sims returned a punt 67 yards for a TD. But when he reached the 10, he suddenly placed the ball in his right hand, extended both arms and showboated into the end zone with both arms pumping. ESPN surely has a stat that could have noted that Sims’ “lose the ball before he scored probability” doubled.

But needlessly risking historic infamy has become so common — most watching had often before seen premature all-about-me demonstrations lead to fumbles, touchbacks and eventual loss of games — I’d surmise that most football-savvy Americans said to themselves or right out loud:

“What was that idiot thinking?”

Then, “Why don’t head coaches on Day 1 demand that such perilous self-smitten conduct never befall their team or players? Why hasn’t every head coach at every level demanded that such all downside TV-inspired stupidity be the acts of other teams, not his?

Steven Sims returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown against the Ravens. AP
Steven Sims’s touchdown featured a risk when he showboated near the end zone. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

ESPN’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman called the game for the country. Know what they said about Sims’ couldn’t-miss-it selfish and risky business? Nothing. Naturally.

Saturday on Fox, there was 6:18 left in the fourth quarter when the Packers, leading 21-17, missed a field goal that would have made it 24-17.

With 51 seconds left, the Niners up 24-21, play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt hit a national audience with this:

“Think about this: If he [Anders Carlson] hadn’t missed that field goal, the game would be tied.”

No! No! And no! Burkhardt should have thought about this before asking us to “think about this: Every play after that missed field goal changed every play that followed.” Had Carlson not missed, the next play would have been a kickoff. And there’s no knowing what would have happened from there.

Kevin Burkhardt, pictured in November, called the Packers-49ers game Saturday. Getty Images

And to think Greg Olsen, Burkhardt’s partner who never shuts up, didn’t say a word to refute Burkhardt’s predestined, mystical “fact.” It’s well worth repeating: There are no two moments in time that are exactly alike. None!

The lunacy has never been more widespread. Wednesday morning ESPN held a lengthy, four-person debate that included Stephen A. Smith and Chris Russo batting around the question, who they’d prefer at QB, “Mahomes or Lamar?”

Given that it made no difference what they thought — Lamar Jackson’s Ravens would play Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs, Sunday, regardless — why not debate their own favorite colors, the time of day or whether they prefer lightly starched collars to no starch?

And Smith has regularly and comically proven that he knows as much about football as the standard sister-in-law.

And while the worst actors who attended the week’s games made for another vulgar fans versus player hassle — inactive Bills WR Gabe Davis versus a presumably drunk Bills “fan” — another dangerous ESPN analysts-approved court storming, and the cruel booing of late Bulls GM Jerry Krause’s 80-year-old infirmed and hurt-to-tears widow by Bulls “fans” — TV remains tethered to its mindless plan to encourage in-house louts to do their worst while breeding more.

ESPN/ABC’s “coverage” of Texans-Ravens was loaded with repetitively thoughtless shots of Ravens fans dressed for excess, providing them the continuing inspiration to act like lunatics while affirming the decisions of well-comported fans to stay home.

And the visiting Chiefs were continuously the targets of snowballs and/or ice balls by Buffalo “fans” as seen on CBS. The only one who seemed to miss it was CBS’s Sgt. Schultz, Jim Nantz.

But as long as they remain convinced that we’re too stupid to know any better our option is to watch and listen with our eyes and ears closed.

Bills fans threw snowballs at Patrick Mahomes after the Chiefs’ win Sunday. Getty Images
Jim Nantz appeared to miss the Bills fans throwing snowballs at Chiefs players Sunday. AP

Tim Brando on the ball

Sportscaster of the Week: Fox’s Tim Brando, 67 years-old sharp. Late in Saturday’s Marquette-St. John’s game, Marquette was up one with 4.3 seconds left when Brando noted that visiting coach Shaka Smart decided not to guard the full-court in-bounder.

Yikes! Why allow an unimpeded up-court look and pass in order to create a single two-on-one defense?

It was an especially significant strategy given that Rick Pitino was coaching St. John’s. In 1992 as the coach of Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament East Regional, Pitino infamously chose not to guard the in-bound pass that led to Grant Hill hitting center Christian Laettner with a 70-foot pass, allowing Laettner to make a buzzer-beater to give Duke a 104-103 win, and soon the national championship.

Tim Brando, pictured in 2018, added the proper context to
Shaka Smart’s strategy during the Marquette-St. John’s game. AP
Shaka Smart opted to not guard the full-court in-bounder in the final seconds of Marquette’s game against St. John’s. AP

And as I was about to pop my pacemaker, Brando, bless our hearts, brought it up.

Anyway, Saturday, St, John’s got a foolishly good look to win it at the buzzer, but missed.

Innocent act by Michael Kay doesn’t fly

Department of Corrections (and additions). Sunday, I mistakenly smacked around Michael Kay for his dissolute “Would Ya Wednesday” segment asking “The Michael Kay Show” teammates Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg, which they’d prefer, “Great sex with Craig Carton or mediocre sex with Halle Berry?”

Turns out, as Kay made clear on social media, he did not ask that question. And for that I apologize.

However Kay portrayed himself as an innocent victim of a fabricated quote when that was hardly the case.

“Phil Mushnick was absolutely wrong. Anyone who listened to that segment knows I never said that. I guess one of his sycophants who report to him got it wrong because Phil is too fine a reporter to whiff this embarrassingly.” And that was that.

Yet, in swapped texts, Kay didn’t deny that question was asked but he refused to name the speaker. (It was Rosenberg.) But Kay’s self-implied total innocence is dishonest.

As per the segment’s transcript, Kay began by warning his sports show audience that what will follow will be “tinged” with sexual content thus inappropriate for kids in his ESPN Radio/YES simulcast audience.

Kay the Innocent then asks: “Would you rather have the best sex of your life for one night only or mediocre sex every day for the rest of your life?”

Michael Kay is pictured during the 2019 Yankees season. AP

Rosenberg and La Greca then ask Kay to make the question more specific, to which Kay says, “Would you rather sleep with someone you hate, but the sex is off the charts, or someone extremely hot but the sex is terrible.”

Rosenberg: “So you are saying, would I rather have sex with Craig Carton but it’s fantastic sex or sex with Halle Berry, but it’s mediocre at best?”

Thus Kay’s selectively dishonest social media response to which he claimed total innocence as the victim of a fabricated defamation was dishonest.

After all, he did not shoot the gun, he was just in charge of the firing squad. Not noted in his response was that the asinine juvenile question was asked on his show, on his watch, after his content warning and his full encouragement.

Imagine, given the naughty-little-boy content of his “Would Ya Wednesday” segment, Kay found my error to be “embarrassingly” inexcusable. Apparently, neither of us embarrass very easily.

Phil Mushnick

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