Dear ESPN: Please Just Show The Game

February 12th, 2009


Things you will never hear a man say: (1) I'd love to watch Thelma & Louise again. (2) Mmmm... Tofu. (3) Her breasts are way too big.  And (4) I can't take another minute of ESPN.

I must sadly admit that as of this past Tuesday the one about ESPN no longer applies to me.

My displeasure with that network actually commenced a few weeks ago.  During overtime of ND at Louisville, ESPN put up a live "picture-in-picture" shot of Coach Rick Pitino.  Yes, the folks in charge felt it necessary to superimpose the "action" of Pitino on one knee, over the game.  Utterly asinine.  Though not as stupid as the thought that went through my mind - that Pitino, at age 56, was subbing himself into the game.

I understand that when there's a blow-out the producers and announcers need to try to spice things up.  This has led to my accumulation of enough information to write the biographies of Dick Vitale's grandkids. But we were in overtime here.

There's also the fact that ESPN perpetually showed Pitino, while ND's coach, Mike Brey, didn't get any isolated camera time.  Probably because Brey's attire was inspired by seeing a maitre‘d place a sport coat on a longshoreman. Regardless, this snubbing of Mike Brey accomplished something I never thought possible - it made me feel sympathy for Notre Dame.  Damn you, ESPN.

Then Tuesday came.  I turned on the Marquette-Villanova match-up and I noticed that in addition to the score, the shot clock, the game clock, and the scroll bar  - there was verbiage spewing across the top of my screen.  ESPN apparently decided that a perpetual stream of input from fans would enhance the basketball viewing experience. It's called "Interactive Tuesday."  And the following day is definitely Migraine Wednesday.

This is just too much on the screen.  It reminds me of the time when the US Women's Softball team was posing for the camera. A fine looking bunch of ladies.  But then the catcher tried to squeeze in.  Too much.  Or when Desperate Housewives shows all the hotties standing together.  But then Felicity Huffman walks in.  Too much.  I guess I should be happy that ESPN hasn't put up a "picture-in-picture" of a computer geek submitting comments from his parent's basement.

In fact, they should change the name from Interactive Tuesday to Dork-Central Tuesday.  I mean truly, the only people reading this stuff are the same people submitting it.  There's no "interaction".  Heck, an even better name would be Narcissistic Tuesday.

I actually gave reading it a shot, but quickly learned that submitting in English is not a requirement. It's all in some text/Internet language.  My inability to crack that code led to another realization - I'm getting old.  God, I hate Interactive Tuesday.

I did think that this streaming on national TV might be a good way to plug the blog.  So I was going to try to enter a message about, but that seemed a little self-important.  You know, more so than having a blog with my name in the title.  I, therefore, tried to enlist a few friends and family members to do my dirty work.  Below are some of the responses to my request:


Sean: You have a blog?

Anil: Your blog is "DaveBarendsCollegeHoopHumor.blogspot.COM"?  I thought it was "ORG".  That one's much better.

My Wife: Sure I'd love to.  But first I have to do the laundry, take out the garbage, change the oil in your car, teach the girls how to make a jump shot, wear the pants . . .


Here's what I'd really like to see when I watch a basketball game: a basketball game.  Watching the action on the court should be the thrill, not seeing your user name crawl across the screen.  Imagine trying to explain to a friend how you missed James Harden's monster dunk,  "Uh, yeah, I had the game on, but I was engrossed in the witticisms of MegaDufus99."

You know who is really to blame for all this - J.K. Rowling.  Yup, the woman who wrote all those freakin' Harry Potter books.  She's the one who got the younger generation thinking it's fun to read.  (For the purpose of this argument, please try to forget that you are currently reading.) Granted there's a place for reading, but it's not on top of a basketball game - it's in the bathroom.

I honestly fear what ESPN is going to do next.  I envision that every time a player touches the ball, ESPN is going to have his personal Facebook page pop up.  Or even worse, instead of that stream of stupidity, they are going to have an instant message board appear on your screen - making you feel compelled to respond.  I remember back when I had AOL, my mother would perpetually IM me.  Worst part was I couldn't figure out how to get that thing to go off.  Pretty hard to surf the Internet for, well, things guys surf the Internet for, when there's a message on the screen from your mom asking, "What are you doing right now?"

If ESPN is dead set on this Interactive Tuesday, I do have some better ideas:


1. Announcer reading - Instead of putting the comments on the top of the screen, have an announcer read them.  You know, kind of like how stockbrokers used to rattle off the ticker tape - out loud the instant they came in.  I suggest Digger Phelps.  This way there'd at least be a chance he'd say something intelligent.  Though at almost 70, he'd likely pass out from exhaustion.  Yeah, I'd pay to see that.

2. Cameraman assistance - Have the people who are commenting help the cameramen find the good-looking women in the stands.  "There's a babe 4 rows behind Duke's bench - DirtyOldMan51."  Or "Stephen Curry's mom is in Row2, Seat 5 - StephenCurry'sDad".

3.Screen on ball - Install a mini-monitor on the surface of the basketball.  This would allow viewers to trash talk directly to the players.  I imagine the following play-by play: "Harangody has the ball and is going up for a slam.  But no he's, well, he appears to be crying.  I'm getting a look at the screen on the ball and, well, my best guess is Harangody's mom really does wear combat boots." 


I'm betting that ESPN doesn't take any of my suggestions.  And after further contemplation I'm probably okay with that.  There is a positive about these people who submit comments on Interactive Tuesday  - they definitely make me and my blog seem substantially less pathetic.

Take it easy,



Dave Barend's humorous take on college basketball will be appearing weekly on CHN.

Check back Monday for a set of weekly Rankings and Irrelevant Comments.  If you'd like to submit your choice for the most overrated or underrated team of the week, email me at by Saturday.