ESPN: Making a mockery of OU-UConn women’s game
ESPN made a mockery of the Oklahoma-Connecticut women’s basketball game. You can’t blame ESPN if the decision was made mid-game, when it quickly became obvious the Sooners weren’t going to put up a fight — they eventually lost 86-45.
But from the opening tip, ESPN employed a Maya cam — a camera solely dedicated to a tight shot on Connecticut all-American Maya Moore. Interesting device that might have worked well in selected replays or even an occasional possession.
But ESPN used the device the entire game, so long as Moore was on the court.
Let me try to explain what ESPN did. They shrunk the video window into a rectangle, sort of like the widescream movie method you see on Turner Classic Movies or something. That left ESPN background border along the top and sides of my television and I assume yours. I figure ESPN was using two-thirds of the screen for the ballgame. Then ESPN took a third of the ballgame screen and used it for video strictly of Moore, who might be driving the ball or blocking or shot, or who might be standing there watching her teammates do the same.
That left two-thirds of the action rectangle for the actual ballgame, which means the ballgame itself was shown on less than half the television screen, about 44 percent, best I could figure.
Think about that. You’ve got a 60-inch big screen; suddenly you’re really watching a game on a 26-inch screen. Or you’ve got a 32-inch screen, which I do. Suddenly you’re watching the game on a 14-inch screen.
It was an abomination. ESPN kept plugging the device for the next game of the ESPN2 doubleheader — Texas A&M at Baylor — saying it would air a feed from a dedicated camera on Baylor star Brittney Griner. But the several times I clicked over to catch some A&M-Baylor action, the device was not used. I like to believe our good friends down in Waco and College Station caught some of the OU-UConn fiasco and deluged ESPN with protests.
Anyway, the split-cam was an awful decision for several reasons.
1. It made the game itself difficult to view, as previously stated.
2. Uninteresting. It is not the least bit insightful to follow a closeup shot of a basketball player. You need context to understand or appreciate why a player is moving or not moving. We would have learned a lot more about Maya Moore on Monday night if we had just one full screen and been able to focus on her.
3. Some fans claimed it elevated Moore to exalted status at the expense of other players. Reader John Brack wrote me during the game: “Please, please, please write something about the despicable way ESPN covered this game. We preach team player and vilify prima donnas, then allow something like this disgusting broadcast.” It didn’t strike me in that vein, though I understand that viewpoint. We exalt players all the time. One of the OU-UConn broadcasters claimed anyone who didn’t vote Moore the national player of the year should have their vote removed, then in the Baylor game one of the broadcasters said the player of the year race was between Moore and Griner. Take it outside.
4. But here’s the real rub on the broadcast technique. Total disrespect for the game.
It’s women’s basketball? Oh, then it doesn’t matter what we do. That had to be ESPN’s attitude. No way would ESPN show a Kentucky-Louisville game like that. Or Duke-North Carolina. Or Lakers-Heat. My wife said they don’t show Kobe Bryant with that kind of video surveillance, why show Maya Moore?
And I have the answer. ESPN’s actions and attitude declare that it was just women’s basketball. Who cares? You must have to turn to some sideshow device to make people interested.
Again, the game was awful. The Sooners didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, and I couldn’t blame ESPN if it had shown the popcorn stand the entire second half. But before we knew the Sooners were doomed to their worst defeat in 33 years, ESPN committed to a split screen format that made the game itself irrelevant and virtually unwatchable.
And it hacked me off. I spend some of my professional time defending women’s basketball, usually on the radio with The Sports Animal’s Jim Traber. I have to shout down Traber from time to time on women’s hoops, when he goes off on what an awful sport it is.
But you know what? I have no comeback if he wants to dog women’s basketball today. How can I believe in women’s basketball when women’s basketball doesn’t believe in itself? When a marquee women’s basketball game, with Sherri Coale and Geno Auriemma and Maya Moore and Danielle Robinson, doesn’t trust itself enough to stand on its own merits?
How women’s basketball leaders could allow a broadcast like this is puzzling. Are they that subservient to ESPN? Are they that desperate for ESPN to pay attention?
ESPN has done a nice job promoting women’s basketball. I don’t believe ESPN set out to make a mocumentary. ESPN has treated many women’s sports well and has made the NCAA women’s tournament an excellent television event.
But this was an awful idea. It was an awful idea 10 seconds into the game, when any neutral watcher could see this was going nowhere in terms of entertainment value. It was an awful idea at halftime. It remains an awful idea now.
Someone with influence needed to step up and stop it. Needed to step up and say, we’ve got a good product that doesn’t need to act like a traveling carnival. No one did. No one stood up and said women’s basketball can stand on its own. For one night, at least, Traber and the critics were correct. This sport didn’t believe in itself, and there was no reason for anyone else to believe in it.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 81615Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 14276Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms drink in success of 'Hangover' series
- 8057Hobby Lobby argues case before federal judges
- 7469Oklahoma tornadoes: Rams quarterback Sam Bradford leading aid effort
- 7367How to help tornado victims
- 6230Rock, pop, country acts give talents and time to help Oklahoma tornado victims
- 5754Oklahoma tornadoes: ‘All I could do was sit there and hold her'
- 5743Carrie Underwood donates $1 million to Red Cross for disaster relief in wake of deadly Oklahoma tornadoes
- 5628OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant tours Moore, meets with residents
- 5567Oklahoma tornadoes: Thunder reverses the role, takes a turn at cheering on the community
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients