Bobby Boswell on BSPN
The backlash against what Soccer Insider Steven Goff has termed "BSPN" is not going anywhere. The New York Times's soccer blog teed off on ESPN just this afternoon, noting how Wilbon et all couldn't stop talking about Becks last night:
Meanwhile, on the pitch, where soccer is actually played, a hard rain visible on TV began to fall on a tightly contested if inconsistent match (that's M.L.S. for you). Two of the league's most exciting attacking imports were on the field. United's Fred and Luciano Emilio, two Brazilians, were the best players on the field. But the ESPN cameras were trained on Beckham. Close-up of his facial expressions. Shot of him talking to Cobi Jones. Cut to a sock adjustment. For all that was going on on the field, it was the superstar on the bench that held ESPN's interest.
I have no standing to criticize--all I've written about today is the specter of Becks--but I did find it bizarre when the TV's in the press box showed several minutes of the great man's warm-ups while the game was still going on. I mean, I'm all for hype, but don't you at least have to keep the game in a box or something while you drool over the wondrous one's stretching routine? I'm pretty sure BSPN even missed a corner kick to cover the stretching.
Anyhow, I went to United training today (to try to get more Becks react, naturally), and suddenly there was another BSPN critic, in the person of one Bobby Boswell.
"It was a good crowd," he said. "[The atmosphere] was good. You want to play in packed houses." He paused. Then he began.
"I'll tell you what [makes me mad]," he said. "If you watch SportsCenter today they were showing [highlights]. It was an ESPN-covered game. You would think they would show the highlights of the game, but the highlights were when Beckham warmed up, when he went in, a free kick...and then they just show him kind of after the game.
"And my whole point is, the goal was an exciting shot, there's a red card, there's a dirty foul: that's cool. There's a lot of chances. How do you just show him and they say, 'Oh, they lost 1-0.' What did anyone get out of that, you know what I mean? I don't know if the league has anything to do with it, but it's just going to turn into if Beckham does well, they're going to get some kind of coverage, and if not, it's just going to be a nightmare. It would have been better if he didn't come in and ESPN covered the game, so they had to show highlights. As it is now, what did anyone learn from watching that SportsCenter today? That Beckham played. That's it. They didn't learn anything else....
"They've got to figure that out, because it's not any fun, man. It's not fun for the guys playing, it's not fun for the people watching. I watched Chelsea when they played L.A.; I don't care about him taking his shoe off. I am absolutely baffled how Eric Wynalda--guys that have played the game--are just riding this thing like they don't give a damn. It just baffles me. It's a shame, man. That's not going to do soccer any good in this country, to have stuff like that.
They say, 'People are coming to the games,' but how hard would it have been on SportsCenter to show Luciano scoring, to show him running around like an idiot, so happy, celebrating? Two guys; Beckham and Luciano, you know what I mean? Show the red card, show that tackle; people would be like 'Damn, that's crazy, that's for real.'
"Just one man's opinion. Getting people to come to the game, the fact that we had a sold-out 40,000-plus [crowd]-- awesome. But to me, I think if you come, especially here in D.C., if you come to a game and you've never been to a soccer game and you see the fans jumping and singing the whole time? That's cool. Yeah, it might not be for you, but you respect that. You have a good time, and that's the important part. That's great. The other aspect of it, the media aspect of it? That's crap. They've got to do better than that. Don't even show it if that's what you're going to show."
IMPORTANT UPDATE: From a Sports Business Journal story by Bog friend John Ourand:
When Beckham finally entered the game in the 72nd minute, ESPN kept a camera on the Englishman at all times, cutting to him frequently, even when he didn't have the ball. ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Tim Scanlan says viewers should not expect as much Beckham coverage in the Galaxy's next game on the network, next Thursday against Chivas USA. "Tonight, we were much more aggressive with the Beckham-cam," Scanlan said. "He was making his MLS debut. He was the story tonight." Scanlan said ESPN will adhere to MLS requests that its telecasts do not remain all-Beckham-all-the-time. "We don't want to create the Tiger Woods effect when it comes to Beckham, when fans think it's not worth watching if he's not in the game," he said.
So that's good.
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