Wednesday, February 05, 2014

I Hate SportsCenter a.k.a. DunkCenter This Time of Year

I get it. NBA and NCAA basketball is significantly more popular nationwide than the NHL. And ESPN broadcasts pro and college hoops. So I'm not expecting hockey to get top billing, or second billing or third billing on SportsCenter. It would be nice to see hockey get some billing. It is, after all, a sport. And ESPN calls their flagship show SportsCenter. Sadly I don't expect SportsCenter to cover the NHL. Nevertheless I'm still disappointed that they essentially don't. And angry.

Before I rant on, no I didn't get any sleep last night, so I'm extra irritable and paranoid. And no I don't have anything better to do today than wait for snow to fall so I can clear it out of my driveway. So I watched SportsCenter and took notes.

On Tuesday night there were 9 NHL games. SportsCenter Wednesday morning showed highlights from 2 of them. There were 4 NBA games, SportsCenter showed highlights from all 4. There were 7 NCAA basketball games involving Top 25 teams, SportsCenter showed clips from 6. That's 10 basketball highlights compared to 2 hockey. And 9 of those basketball highlights came before any NHL coverage.

And what pisses me off is how repetitive and uninteresting basketball highlights are. Why are they in such relatively high demand? It baffles me. It's 80% dunks. And most of those dunks are uncontested. Dunks on the break. SportsCenter even flashed back to a high school dunking contest before showing highlights of a college game. Just to show that a certain player could dunk in high school, and his dunking continued as a Florida Gator, and with only marginally more defensive obstacles in his way.

That's what you hoop heads want to see? Tall men with long arms dropping a ball into an unguarded hole? That not only passes for entertainment, you'd rather see 10 sets of dunk heavy basketball highlights with only 2 hockey highlights? I feel kind of bad for you if you're mesmerized so easily.

There were 18 minutes of basketball highlights compared to 3 minutes of hockey highlights.

There were highlights of Duke beating Wake Forest by 20. What a nail-biter.

There was a story about the ranking of college players for the NBA Draft. That's right around the corner, isn't it? Only a few days away on June 26th.

Hockey wasn't even mentioned until Jeremy Schaap's piece on potential terrorism at the Winter Olympics, 30 minutes into the broadcast. Because who else would turn to for analysis of geopolitical friction and global terrorism?

Then there were 2 NHL games highlighted. The Rangers playing the Avalanche, and the Senators playing the Blues.

No mention of Roberto Luongo playing his first game in Boston since the 2011 Cup Finals. That wasn't nearly as important as UConn's women's basketball team crushing SMU. That brief highlight also came before hockey.

Then we get to the Top Plays, a reel of dunk highlights featuring the best dunks you've already seen in the show. Because dunks are so amazing, unique, unexpected, difficult, fun, funny, exciting, exhilarating, and most of all special. Slam dunks are special.

Eight of the Top Plays were from basketball games. One was from hockey, one from soccer. Five of the basketball plays were dunks. Most of those were uncontested, players driving through an open lane or on a break.

So of all the plays in 9 NHL games Tuesday night, only one (a save by Capitals goalie Michael Neuvirth) was on the same level as uncontested dunkage. Really? All the goals, the saves, the hits, only one of them was on par with tall men who cannot be touched on their way to the net, jumping in the air with a ball, and putting it in a hole.

That's evidently what you want, America. You can have it. Just like you can have crappy musicians that sing off key, politicians who lie to your face as you vote for them, you can watch all the amazing dunks you want.