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.