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Networks clearing sidelines
Field reporters can be valuable, but they're being used less

by Mel Bracht Published: July 25, 2008
ESPN plans to curtail the roles of sideline reporters Michele Tafoya and Suzy Kolber on its "Monday Night Football” broadcasts this fall, according to published reports. They are expected to appear only during pregame and postgame coverage.

For most of its NFL broadcasts, CBS doesn't use a sideline reporter.

Are sideline reporters valuable to sports telecasts?

The short answer: If they add something meaningful to the telecast and not take up valuable air time with trivial items.

KWTV-9 sports director Dean Blevins, who worked six seasons as a college football sideline reporter for ABC before moving into the broadcast booth, said sideline reporters can be important, assuming the person is knowledgable.

"Most play-by-play guys want someone down there who can give them a sense of what's going on,” Blevins said.

Tracking injuries is probably the reporters' most valuable role, which requires developing a good relationship with tight-lipped trainers.

"After all those years I did it, I got to know the trainers at all the schools,” Blevins said.

Producers can ask reporters to do silly things, which can detract from a telecast. During a BYU telecast, Blevins was instructed to drink pickle juice as the BYU team was consuming the juice to avoid cramps.

"I spit it out and acted silly,” Blevins said. "The producer didn't want to know about the game. He just wanted to watch me spit out pickle juice.”

Emily Jones, who has been an FSN sideline reporter for three seasons, admitted that most of the pregame and halftime interviews with coaches are gratuitous, but said there are some exceptions.

"You'll get a coach with his guard down and will speak freely,” Jones said.

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by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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ESPN sideline reporters Suzy Kolber, second from left, and Michele Tafoya, second from right, are expected to appear only during pregame and postgame coverage this season. Assicuated Press

Rating sideline reporters

The best

1. Michele Tafoya, ABC/ESPN

2. Pam Oliver, Fox

3. Chris Myers, Fox

Honorable mention: Erin Andrews, Bonnie Bernstein, Stacey Dales, Andrea Kremer, Suzy Kolber, Jim Knox, Holly Rowe

The worst

1. Tony Siragusa, Fox

2. Lynn Swann, ABC/ESPN

3. Laura Okmin, Fox

Honorable mention: Jack Arute, Jim Gray, Armen Keteyian


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