Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rant #2

The NFL preseason has started. For all the vein-tapping football addicts like myself, it's a very exciting time. We can finally stop using Arena Football and Canadian Football as surrogate NFL fixes. Don't get me wrong, I happen to enjoy the AFL and the CFL, but they're poor substitutes for the League.

There's no end of publicity for every team right now, and because they're all in training camp, where everybody's wearing shorts and not afraid of a hit from the safety/middle linebacker, everybody's a star. It's pure hype, the fans all know it's pure hype, but that hype sells a lot of tickets. Even the games themselves are just designed to get the good players back into "game shape", get them used to the contact and to help regain the reaction time needed on the field during the regular season. In light of that, the starters usually don't play for the entire first quarter. In the first game, they generally don't see more than 6-8 plays. No sense risking injury this early. We know this, and it's still exciting because it's finally back after 7 months off, because I'll take 6-8 plays over the nothing during the previous 7 months.

Anyway, my rant.

My team's preseason opening game was the first ESPN Monday Night Football broadcast for the 2007 season. I was happy for this because it meant that it'd probably be broadcast in Canada. This is good because preseason games aren't broadcast as part of NFL Sunday Ticket (which, as an aside, was half the reason we purchased a dish, the other half being The Food Network for the better half.)

I found the channel (TSN carrying the ESPN feed, naturally), set a timer to switch the channel at 6PM MST, and generally got ready to enjoy my team in action. When the coverage switched, however, they were in the middle of a broadcast of the 2007 Rogers Cup, which, for those interested, is a womens tennis event held in Canada. I figured no problem, they'll probably cut out in time for kickoff.

I proceeded to go from confused to incredulous to very unimpressed as a bad tennis match suddenly seemed to slow down time itself. The three-set tennis match turned into a two and a half hour display of some of the most lifeless play I've ever seen on a professional court.

All the while I couldn't believe that they weren't switching coverage. There's no way that TSN execs could think that the spike in viewership that came from people tuning in to see the ESPN broadcast were actually fans that suddenly saw the light and became interested in a Canadian womens tennis tournament. They decided not to bother switching to the second most popular televised sport in the world because Camille Pin of France might make a comeback against her bitter arch-rival Dinara Safina! I know, I hadn't heard of either of them either!

The match finally relented a little before 7:30 MST, and they switched coverage to the Denver -San Francisco game. There were less than two minutes remaining in the first half, and all of the players that are going to make both rosters were all done playing for the night. All of the players I'm considering for my fantasy league? They're all easy to spot, because they're all on the sidelines wearing ballcaps. Cutler? Gore? Walker? Champ? They all finished playing right around the same time that my eyes were glazing over during set 2 of trying to feign interest in Rogers Cup tennis.

What actually I got to see was an hour and a half of the downside of preseason football. That is, guys no one has heard of that aren't going to make either roster playing sloppy penalty-filled football while the announcers rack their brains trying to think of clever euphemisms for football of such poor quality that you should be paid to watch as a fan.

Dear TSN:

I understand that TSN is the biggest player when it comes to Canadian broadcasts of NFL games. I am willing to live with the fact that the commercials are bad on TSN and a lot worse on Global, the number two player. I'm cool with an awful lot of things that suck when it comes to getting my NFL fix. For the love of all that's decent to watch on a sports network, please show some sense when it comes to choosing what you air. Especially when the options are as straightforward as NFL football vs. insomnia-breaking first round Rogers Cup "action".


Another fan who knows better.

No comments: