What I’m thankful for in sports media


If I had had the amount of sports content offered today as a child, I would have run away from school. I use my Chandler more for organizing teams than assigning tasks.

We can track our teams through numerous resources anywhere on any device. We can interact with other fans anywhere on any device. And, best of all, we can watch any game anywhere on any device.

It’s a sweet table that’s always filled, a bottomless bucket of buttered popcorn. It’s a dream come true!

It is also excessive.

If you listed all the things available in the sports-media market, you could fill out an old Sears catalog. And this oversaturation is not limited to sports. Media research firm Parks Associates said there are more than 300 direct-to-consumer streaming services in the United States. Who can watch all that?

When cable was king – which wasn’t that long ago – many customers wanted to have a pay-as-you-go option to avoid paying for what they didn’t watch. Now they do, but they still need a combination of services to be satisfied. Those services add up to the cost and eventually add up. . . cable.

I haven’t cut the cord yet, and I have no plans. That’s not to say I’m against Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (vMVPDs) — that’s the nerdy name for streaming services. I just prefer the ease of browsing and comprehensive content that cable provides.

Believe me, I subscribe to many streamers: Prime Video, ESPN+, MLB.TV, Netflix. They all satisfy a sports fix, but they are a dating display. I have to go find them. On the cable, the content finds me. A game or show pops up while I’m channel surfing, and I’m engaged in something I otherwise wouldn’t be.

So while it’s great to have “options”, as the honchos call it, and while I enjoy the sports content machines that produce audio, video and written works, I’m still happy to have my old reliable box . Coaxial cable entered my life in the mid-1980s, and it kept me connected to the games I loved. You can cut your cord if you want. I prefer to splice mine.

Cable is still here, and for that, thank you.

Here are some other aspects of sports media that I’m thankful for:

Score bugs

I remember the first time I saw a scoring bug in an NFL game. Fox introduced it in 1994, its first year owning the NFC package. I remember not liking the shape of the chart because the teams’ scores didn’t line up (my OCD at work). It didn’t even include the descent and distance. But it was amazing.

It was a foreign concept to football fans. Maybe it’s because it comes from a foreigner, the former head of Fox Sports David Hill, an Australian. He said he received death threats after debuting the “FoxBox,” but today you won’t find a game broadcast without a punctuation bug.

They can be overwrought with information (looking at you Bally Sports), and can take up too much space on the screen (see ESPN’s college football chart). But they can also be spatially economical and pleasing to the eye (tip of the hat to Marquee Sports Network).

Good or bad, they are a necessity. Can you watch a game broadcast without one?

Podcasts

If you think there are too many streaming services, guess how many podcasts are available. About 2.5 million, according to reports. But here’s the thing: There’s a podcast for everyone.

I loved the TV show “West Wing”. So, when I learned in 2016 that a podcast was created to watch and review each episode, I was hooked. The same applies to sports. The team you root for definitely has dedicated podcasts. Some are run by reporters who cover the team, others by fans who bleed the team’s colors. Some are good, some not so much.

But they are perfect for fans who are not served by sports radio. For example, in the 90s, he was among Blackhawks fans jealous of all the attention that the media gave the Bulls. There were few, if any, places to hear about hockey in this town. Now there are a number of podcasts dedicated to the Hawks.

Those would have been nice to have during that ’92 playoff run.

Sideline reporters

The men and women who travel the boundaries of the game, braving the elements, take a lot of flak for being superfluous parts of a game show. But often, viewers have no idea what they’re adding to the broadcast when it’s the advertisers who interweave the information they’ve obtained.

Of course, some reports are not very insightful. But the best reporters keep a close eye on the sides or benches and either share their discovery themselves or pass it on to the producer. They are a must at football games, and hockey broadcasts have benefited greatly from reporters or analysts between the benches, who see and hear things that those in the booth cannot.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who bring sports into our homes.

Remote patrol

The IHSA championship football games will air live Friday on The U (Channel 26.2 or 48.1) and Saturday on CW26 (Channel 26.1) from Memorial Stadium in Champaign. Classes 1A-4A play on Friday and 5A-8A play on Saturday. The games are scheduled for 10 am, 1 pm, 4 and 7 every day.

Chris Vosters takes a break from the Hawks to call Illinois-Northwestern at 2:30 pm Saturday on Big Ten Network. He will be joined by an analyst Brock Vereen and journalist Meghan McKeown.

Mitch Rosen, program director at The Score, has been promoted to vice president of Audacy’s BetQL network, where he will oversee content and distribution. Rosen will remain with The Score.



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