Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ESPN's sports score ticker

I would like to start off by saying there was a time when the ESPN sports score ticker at the bottom of the television screen was useful. There was also a time when horse driven buggies, Sony Walkman's, car phones and television antennas were useful as well. Unfortunately, ESPN fails to acknowledge that the continual running of sports scores at the bottom of the television screen has become just a waste of space. This is 2009, and in 2009 most American households have at a minimum one computer connected to the internet in their household. If I'm watching a game on television, and I want to know the score of another game that is not on television, I have two choices. I can ignore the game I'm trying to watch and focus on the constant scroll of scores at the bottom of my screen patiently waiting for the score I want to be posted, or I can walk into the next room and go to any internet sports site and instantly obtain the score. With advances in the way we watch television, I can do this without missing a second of the game I'm watching as I can just pause the game and resume watching it 10 seconds later after I obtain the score I desperately wanted to know. ESPN seems to be under the impression that the world of sports cannot exist without them, and nobody can obtain information about sports without them.

That being said, it gets even worse. First, in case you haven't noticed, the sports score ticker is slowly creeping up our television screens. It used to be at the very bottom of the screen, now there is a descent size gap between the bottom of the screen and the sports score ticker. I predict by 2015 the sports score ticker will be located in the middle of the screen. ESPN wants to control what is important to you. They don't care that you don't care about getting the final score of the Cubs vs. Reds game 45 times during a Lakers playoff game, they are not only going to post it 45 times during the basketball game, but it is going to interrupt your view of part of the game. Even better, in the Dodgers vs. Marlins game which is still going on, they are going to flash UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE every time a team scores a single run with the newly revised score. If I cared so much about the Dodgers vs. Marlins score that I wanted to know every time a team scores a run, I would be watching the Dodgers vs. Marlins game. How does this logic elude ESPN executives? I was watching one NBA playoff game where throughout the game, approximately every 20 minutes, it threw on their ticker about Brett Favre seeing a doctor for an opinion about his shoulder. First off, why do they assume somebody who is watching an NBA game cares about a football player? Is there no such thing as somebody who follows one sport more than another sport? This nonsense about a football player seeing a doctor is somehow news? Did Brett Favre announce he was ending his retirement for the second time? No, he saw a doctor. This is information I need to be told continually throughout an NBA playoff game? What did Brett Favre have for breakfast, please, inform me. Did Brett Favre speak to any person associated to any NFL organization? Did Brett Favre put on an old Packers jersey and look at himself in the mirror? This is NOT news, this is ESPN trying to convince you what you should care about and taking the stance that you cannot obtain the information on your own.

Another thing that has gone berserk with that ticker recently. During college football and NFL game days, it has become a common sight to see the following; SCORE UPDATE, SCORE UPDATE, SCORE UPDATE, SCORE UPDATE, SCORE UPDATE, Penn St has the ball 2nd and 4 on Ohio St's 32 yard line. Excuse me, but that's not a "score" update, that's an update. A score update is when a team actually scores. My personal favorite waste of space comes in the form of ESPN promoting its own programs while I'm trying to watch a game. Classic example would be on a Monday Night Football game. Monday Night Football games are programmed from 6 PM - 9 PM on the west coast. ESPN's Sports Center is programmed at 9 PM on the west coast. Of course the game won't end at 9 PM, they never do. So what does ESPN do? PROGRAM UPDATE, PROGRAM UPDATE, PROGRAM UPDATE, PROGRAM UPDATE, ESPN Sports Center will be seen immediately following the conclusion of the game. This is repeated from 9 PM on until the end of the game, approximately every three minutes. Does this really need to be reported? Has there EVER been somebody who was just doing work around their house and not watching the Monday Night Football game, and saw that it was 9 PM and thought, "oh my, Sports Center is on, I have to see that"? Then, turned on ESPN at 9:01 and saw an NFL game going on with 6 minutes left in the 4th quarter and thought, "hmm, I guess they aren't showing Sports Center this evening". Turns off the TV and goes back to working around the house? Has anybody ever been watching Monday Night Football, and even though there is 6 minutes left in the game, when 9 PM rolls around thought, "what the hell? Sports Center is supposed to be starting right now". Seriously, because if there are people of such minimal intelligence in this country I want to start looking for another country to live in.

ESPN used to be a great station. However, like many other things in this country over the years, they have taken a good thing and ran it straight into the ground. Who watches Sports Center anymore? Invest $350 and get yourself a computer. I can obtain everything Sports Center will tell me in an hour in approximately two minutes. The only time I ever turn that god awful station on anymore is to watch a sporting event, and even then they are losing my viewership. Sunday Night Baseball is unwatchable, unless of course you enjoy hearing Joe Morgan talk about how he is in the Hall of Fame for three consecutive hours, Monday Night Football is unwatchable as well. Their broadcast crew for that game is Mickey Mouse. Actually, that is an insult to Mickey Mouse. Sorry Mickey. Their coverage of the NBA playoffs were about as close to being unwatchable as it could get without actually being unwatchable, any worse and I was turning the volume off and listening to the play by play on the radio. College football broadcast crews aren't much better, as I only watch half the games I want to watch because their play by play is done by somebody who clearly doesn't know anything about college football or the teams they are covering.

ESPN used to be a great station, but it's time for the Ole Yeller treatment. It's time to take this station out back and shoot it.