SportsCenter continues to suck the living soul out of everything

8 May

sportscenter_logo.jpgLet’s say you’re a producer for the Emmy-winning show “SportsCenter.” Many days you peruse the recent news releases in search of a human interest piece for your Sunday night broadcast. Then, boy howdy, you come across a doozy: a D-II women’s softball player hit her first-ever home run, but while rounding first base she tore her ACL. When the umpire stated that a pinch-runner would only be allowed first base (turning the homer into a single), the opposing players nobly picked up the injured player and carried her around the basepaths to complete the home run.

Fucking A. This is exactly what you’re looking for. You dispatch your film crew for footage and get to work on storyboarding the action.

As producer, how are you going to tell this story? Do you treat it with the respect and humility it deserves, trying to convey the message that, once in a while, in mostly-unknown corners of the sports world, an unexpected act of sportsmanship can occur? Or, do you completely obliterate any iota of inspiration in the tale by over-producing and dramatizing the shit out of story, so much it appears to viewers as if you feel this is the most heroic story since Pat Tillman?

Remember: you work for Sportscenter. You can only take option B. SportsCenter hasn’t won all those Emmys by treating its viewers like adults! You gotta spoon-feed ‘em the info!

When finishing your piece, keep in mind the standard SportsCenter tenets:

>> First, you’ll need the requisite ominous background music. You want these people to think you’re reporting on something comparable to the war in Iraq, and not, you know, a college softball game seen by about 30 people.

>> A punny segment name is required. This time around, consider “Touching Them All.” Lazy, obvious, dumb…perfect.

>> Begin each segment with historical video clips to put the story in context. In this case, when telling the story of a D-II athlete’s first collegiate home run, it is entirely suitable to show the more dramatic home runs in major league baseball history: Bill Mazeroski, Kirk Gibson and Joe Carter.

>> Include other gratuitous visuals during the story’s introduction to connote symbolism. Remember: it is SportsCenter policy that all attempts at symbolism must be clearly recognized by your typical third-grader. Ignore the eye-rolling from all our viewers with an IQ over 85. They are not the target market! In this clip, one might consider placing a framed photo of the hitter in the dirt right near first base, the exact location where the player injured herself. Hello symbolism!

>> Stretch the segment three times longer than feels necessary, to enhance the drama. This can be done in a number of ways: hold the camera on interviewees for an uncomfortable amount of time, hoping to god they squirt out a few tears; more than one interviewee repeating the same story; arbitrary shots of softball fields (even rolling hills are fine, doesn’t really matter because, remember, our viewers are mentally stunted and don’t retain the brain capacity to fully understand what they are watching); and, if desperate, just repeat clips of the action you already showed.

>> Any details from the story that might retract from the drama should be quickly mentioned after the segment airing. For instance, the fact that the rulebook shows  that the pinch-runner actually could have run the bases, making this whole story possible due to an umpire’s oversight.

The result: well done, sir. This piece was sappier than any Chicken Soup for the Soul tale could ever hope to be. Barbara Walters thinks you’re overdramatic. James Lipton thinks you’re too over-the-top. Scott Stapp thinks you take yourself too seriously. Your viewers will never again recall this story as the nice little inspirational anecdote that it was, but rather an over-produced, syrupy puff piece that SportsCenter exploited and drove into the ground.

Eventually, all they’ll take away from that memory is one word: SportsCenter. And that, my friends, is the ESPN way.

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2 Responses to “SportsCenter continues to suck the living soul out of everything”

  1. Cool Rut May 8, 2008 at 7:57 am #

    Finally we agree. I quit watching Sportscenter a few years ago and try not to watch ESPN at all, if I can avoid it. Also, we should talk what babies women are. Back in the late 80’s during Legion ball, I hit my first homerun during my last game, my last at bat ever in baseball. I did a double Kirk Gibson fist-pump followed by a leap in the air but I landed awkwardly-dislocating my knee which tore my ACL, MCL and cracked my kneecap. Did I stop and ask the opposing team to carry me around the bases? Nope, I put the flap down, ala Jeffrey Leonard, and made it around on my own. Woman should stick to cheering for men.

  2. roughkat May 8, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    I only made it about 25 seconds in before I had the taste in vomit in my mouth.

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