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Sports coverage overdose

Posted by Mark Leccese  April 27, 2011 01:11 PM

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GK_Beregeron.jpgWhen I lived in a brownstone downtown near a subway stop a few years ago, somebody — I never caught him — would steal just the sports section from my morning Globe as it lay on the building’s front steps. I wanted to strangle the guy (I assume it was a guy, since was into sports and thievery).

Now? I wouldn’t hug him if I caught him inky-handed, but I might just let him have the sports section.

I’ve overdosed on the Boston media’s sports coverage.

The city’s two dailies (and their websites) run dozens of sports stories a day. All five local TV newscasts feature sports segments prominently, and have been known to lead their newscasts with sports.

And then there’s sportstalk radio — three different stations — and two around-the-clock sports TV networks for New England. There are amateur blogs (Boston Sports Journal, Joy of Sox, Toeing the Rubber and Zuri Berry, just to name four) and so many professional blogs I’m not even going to try to count. Boston.com alone has nineteen (scroll down) sports blogs.

There's even a (very good, actually) blog about the coverage: Boston Sports Media Watch.

You say: “What’s the big deal, Mark? Nobody’s forcing you to pay attention to sports coverage – your TV doesn’t follow you around the house, does it? There are plenty of non-sports radio stations to listen to, and your radio has an on/off button, right? There is no state law that requires you to read the sports pages, and the police won’t come to your house and take away your Bruins cap if you don’t read at least a dozen sports blogs daily.”

The problem is that I’m a Boston sports fan. I’ve had Red Sox season tickets for 24 years. I can still picture, in my mind’s eye, key saves made by Reggie Lemelin. Sometimes, unbidden, the name Randy Vataha pops into my head. I once met Hank Finkel, and it was a thrill.

Here’s what I want from the Boston sports media:

  • Important or interesting news.
  • Expert analysis — in other words, analysis that tells me something I couldn’t see for myself.
  • The occasional feature story.
  • A sports columnist or two with a voice and something to say.

To find what I want these days, I need to pick through a babel of excruciatingly irrelevant minutiae, half-informed opinion, useless descriptions of things I already knew or have already seen, weird “statistical” analysis, and (especially with the Red Sox and Patriots) boosterish treacle.

I pretty much gave up on sportstalk radio years ago: They have too much time to fill and far too little actual information or informed analysis to fill it. I tune in from time to time to hear if I’m missing anything, and sometimes sportstalk can be revealing and informative, but mostly I change the station after, oh, 10 minutes of grown men shouting and cackling.

TV news sports reporters? They’re for putting together scores, highlights and the “anything I can do to help the team” quotes from athletes into a three-minute package. In Boston, they do this well and with a minimum of nattering. (Steve Burton, Dan Roche, Mike Giardi and Mike Lynch are particularly good.)

The professional sports bloggers do a good job keeping us updated with tonight’s line-ups, injury reports, interesting quotes and so on – actual news! — but, good heavens, their live blogging of games could not be more boring. C’mon, folks, it’s a blog. Have some fun.

Speaking of live blogging of games, every sportswriter, sports media outlet, and fan with a smartphone or a laptop is now on Twitter, tweeting away as fast as their fingers (or thumbs) can fly over the keyboard. I suppose I should just put my phone down when the game is on, or maybe delete the Twitter app, but in the torrent of tweets, someone — almost always a fan — writes something that’s actually funny or that makes an insightful observation on the game in progress.

I’ve reached the point where I have “unfollowed” most of the professional sports journalists because I don’t need to read “Carl Crawford hits single” when I just saw him hit that single on TV. Couldn’t they tweet the snarky stuff the sportswriters are saying in the press box?

What I do now is just watch the games. The next morning I scan the game stories and blogs for astute analysis and revealing quotes (Bruins coach Claude Julien on how he motivates talented but enigmatic forward Michael Ryder: “Obviously I don’t all the time. I wish I could”). Then I read the box scores and the schedule for today’s games.

I avoid the pre-game shows and, for the most part, the post-game shows, although NESN’s Tom Caron is very good at delivering news and intelligent analysis and I love Dennis Eckersley. How can you not love an analyist who analyzes a player’s performance buy saying “that guy stunk”?

Let’s just watch the games. Isn’t that why we’re sports fans?

I complain, but I guess I’m hooked. If you happen to be walking by my house early one morning, leave my sports section alone. You know who you are.

Follow @mleccese on Twitter.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mark Leccese, a journalism professor at Emerson College, covered Massachusetts politics, business and the arts for more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter, editor and magazine writer. He has More »

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