A New Year’s wish: Considered thought injected into sports TV talk

As we enter 2018, Couch Slouch wishes it were 1918. Not so we could be at war with the world again, not so Jim Crow laws could rule the South again, not so women couldn’t have the right to vote again; rather, so we could live in a pre-TV universe in which talking heads weren’t talking UNTIL THEIR HEADS EXPLODE. (Plus, 1918 was a better year to bet on the World Series than, say, 1919.) In 2018, we have reached a talking tipping point. The main cause of global warming, according to a report released last fall by the National Academy of Sciences, is the hot air emanating daily from ESPN and Fox Sports 1 on their cavalcade of can-I-say-something-even-dumber-than-you-just-said embrace-debate shows. As an old buddy of mine — a disgruntled Verizon cable customer in southern New Jersey — recently told me, “They just won’t shut up.” Indeed, aren’t we tired of tuning in to hear people talk on TV? They just sit in chairs and babble. It would be like going to a restaurant just to watch the next table eat.It all began, innocuously enough, when my erstwhile friends and former colleagues Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon debuted “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN in 2001. This was the nascent kinder, gentler era of talk TV — friendly banter, reasonable discourse. This led, inexorably and inexecrably, to Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, the Sodom and Gomorrah of sports talk. [Archive: Skip Bayless may be the most hated man in sports] We’ll get back to them momentarily. Rule No. 1 of talk TV: When in doubt, shout. Even when they are not shouting, their opinions are screaming for attention. These stances are called “hot takes.” You cannot be on talk TV without a hot take; if all you offer are lukewarm takes, you’re headed for ham radio. (Full disclosure: I once was on talk TV for a Bristol minute before getting booted; interestingly, that’s where they drew the line.)If it were Continue Reading

Sports TV listings for Friday Dec. 22

COLLEGE FOOTBALL 12:30 p.m.: ESPN, Bahamas Bowl, Ohio vs. UAB, at Nassau, Bahamas 3:30 p.m.: ESPNU, National Signing Day special 4 p.m.: ESPN, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Central Michigan vs. Wyoming, at Boise, Idaho MEN'S BASKETBALL 1 p.m.: MASN2 (including Cox Ch. 135), Texas-Rio Grande Valley at Oklahoma St. 1 p.m.: SEC Network, Temple at Georgia 3 p.m.: MASN2 (including Cox Ch. 135), Abilene Christian at Texas Tech 5:30 p.m.: ESPNU, Diamond Head Classic, Middle Tennessee vs. Princeton, at Honolulu 6:30 p.m.: Fox Sports 1, Sacred Heart at Providence 7 p.m.: ESPN3.com/ACC Network Extra, Hampton at Virginia 7 p.m.: Big Ten Network, Rider at Penn St. 7 p.m.: CBS Sports Network, Florida Gulf Coast at Wichita St. 7 p.m..: ESPN2, Northwestern at Oklahoma 7 p.m.: SEC Network, Incarnate Word at Florida 7 p.m.: ESPN3.com, Georgia Southern at East Tenn. State 7:30 p.m.: ESPNU, Diamond Head Classic, Akron vs. Southern Cal, at Honolulu 8:30 p.m.: Fox Sports 1, Villanova vs. Hofstra, at Uniondale, N.Y. 8:30 p.m.: Fox Sports 2, Las Vegas Classic, San Francisco vs. Duquesne, at Las Vegas 9 p.m.: Big Ten Network, Colorado vs. Iowa, at Sioux Falls, S.D. 9 p.m.: CBS Sports Network, Xavier at Northern Iowa 9 p.m.: ESPN2, Texas vs. Alabama, at Birmingham, Ala. 11 p.m.: ESPNU, Diamond Head Classic, Davidson vs. New Mexico St., at Honolulu 11 p.m.: Fox Sports 1, Las Vegas Classic, S. Illinois vs. Nevada, at Las Vegas 1 a.m. (Saturday): ESPNU, Diamond Head Classic, Miami vs. Hawaii, at Honolulu NBA 7:30 p.m.: NBC Sports Washington, Washington at Brooklyn 8 p.m.: ESPN, L.A. Clippers at Houston 10:30 p.m.: ESPN, L.A. Lakers at Golden State NHL 9 p.m.: NBC Sports Washington Plus (including Cox Ch. 1119), Washington at Arizona RUGBY 6 p.m.: NBC Sports Network, English Premiership, Worcester vs. London (same-day tape) SKIING 2:30 p.m.: Olympic Channel, FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Men's Slalom, at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy SOCCER 2:45 p.m.: NBC Sports Network, Premier League, Continue Reading

Sports TV listings for Des Moines and Iowa

SUBJECT TO CHANGE College Basketball 5 p.m.CBSSN — Toledo at Miami (Ohio) 6 p.m.ESPN2 — Davidson at Rhode IslandESPNU — Princeton at Harvard 6:30 p.m.FS1 — Minnesota at Indiana 8 p.m.ESPN2 — Detroit at OaklandESPNU — Kent State at Ball StateCollege Hockey 6:30 p.m.NBCSN — Ohio State at Notre Dame 7 p.m.CBSSN — St. Cloud State at Miami (Ohio) 8 p.m.NBCSN — Minnesota at WisconsinCollege Wrestling 6 p.m.BTN — Northwestern at Purdue 7 p.m.CYCLONES.TV — Fresno State at Iowa StateDrag Racing 5 p.m.FS1 — NHRA, Lucus Oil Winternationals qualifyingGolf 11 a.m.GOLF — PGA Champions Tour, Boca Raton Championship, first round 2 p.m.GOLF — PGA Tour, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, second round 10 p.m.GOLF — European PGA Tour, ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth, third roundNBA 6 p.m.ESPN — L.A. Clippers at Detroit 8:30 p.m.ESPN, FSM-PLUS — Minnesota at ChicagoNHL 7 p.m.FSM — St. Louis at WinnipegWinter Olympics 7 p.m.NBC — Opening Ceremony 1 a.m. (Saturday)NBCSN — Cross Country: Women’s Skiathlon Gold Medal Final; Mixed Doubles Curling: U.S. vs. ChinaAuto Racing 7 a.m.FS1 — IMSA Series, BMW Endurance Challenge 9:30 a.m.FS1 — NASCAR, Monster Energy Cup Series, Advance Auto Parts Clash practice NoonFS1 — NASCAR, Monster Energy Cup Series, Advance Auto Parts Clash practice, 2 p.m.FS1 — NASCAR, Monster Energy Cup Series, Advance Auto Parts Clash final practice 3:30 p.m.FS1 — ARCA Series, Lucas Oil 200College Basketball 11 a.m.CBS — Florida at South CarolinaESPN — Oklahoma State at West VirginiaESPN2 — Northwestern at MarylandESPNU — Temple at South FloridaFOX — Butler at VillanovaFSN — Marquette at St. John’s 12:30 p.m.CBSSN — Navy at Army 1 p.m.CBS — Kansas at BaylorESPN — Oklahoma at Iowa StateESPN2 — Mississippi State at MissouriESPNU — Continue Reading

Robert Lee and ESPN team up to embarrass the sports TV business

When ESPN’s Charlotte, N.C. production team “consulted” with Robert Lee, the play-by-play voice, about calling the University of Virginia’s football opener, he “expressed some personal trepidation about the assignment.” And when offered the chance to call another tilt “he opted for that (other) game (Youngstown State-Pittsburgh).” This information comes from a memo authored by ESPN boss John Skipper obtained by CNN. While the entire missive was a transparent attempt to deflect from poor decision-making on the Bristol Campus (remember the recent fantasy/slave auction?) it does confirm Lee was in favor of extracting himself from the Virginia game telecast. His decision came a few days after violent protests (resulting in three deaths) over the city of Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee. Lee (the play-by-play voice) made a big mistake. One made by someone who apparently doesn’t know that when you rise to the level of an ESPN voice you accept certain terms, like growing thick skin. Like ESPN, Lee was concerned his name would trigger over-the-top reaction on social media. Instead of yanking himself off the Sept. 2 UVA-William & Mary game his response should have been: “The mere threat of being ridiculed on social media is not stopping me from calling the game.” The thought of any of the greats in the biz opting out of their assignment over an imaginary threat of verbal abuse is comical. Can you imagine how Howard Cosell, Jim McKay, Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth or Jim Nantz would respond if some suit said: “You might want to consider pulling yourself off Sunday’s telecast because @realdeal_numbnuts is going to poke fun at you.” Unlike Lee, each of them would understand the significance of the moment in time. When outside forces can dictate assignments, and interfere with a Continue Reading

‘Schooled: The Price of College Sports’: TV review

“Schooled” makes a strong case that we should regard college football and basketball players the way we regard exploited migrant farmworkers or Third World child laborers. Which, at first glance, sounds utterly preposterous. Except in this sense. Major organizations are making billions of dollars a year by using “student athlete” football players as cheap labor. “Schooled,” based on the book “The Cartel” by the respected writer Taylor Branch, focuses primarily on the NCAA, which since 1951 has been the collective voice for college sports. Over those years, the NCAA has turned college sports, which nominally began as simply an extracurricular activity, into an industry that provides colleges with unmatched promotion and earns huge sums for sponsoring companies like Nike. Athletes, the engine and the only irreplaceable part of that industry, are theoretically paid back with a free college education, in the form of a scholarship. This creates what “Schooled” says is largely the myth of the student athlete, a student who happens to be good at football the way some other student is good at microbiology. Problem is, “Schooled” argues, college sports has become such a profit center that schools will throw academics — education, their reason for existence — under the bus in the service of athletics. The NCAA is complicit, too, Branch says, because sports have built its own power. “Schooled” mostly seems to push for athletes to be compensated, arguing that they assume all the risks for a tiny fraction of the proceeds. The real bottom-line point here, however, comes from Bob Costas. Yes, he says, athletes are treated unfairly. He also says that 99% of the people who watch college sports don’t care. “They just want State U to go 10-1.” Sobering and true. [email protected] Join the Continue Reading

Hometown Heroes in Education really live up to the name, say sports, TV figures

Luminaries from the worlds of sports, television and education say city educators are heroes whose stories too often go untold — and they applaud the Daily News for honoring them as Hometown Heroes in Education. The new awards program will recognize exceptional educators working in city schools and spotlight their achievements. “Educators are important because they really give our kids a foundation for the rest of their life,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, whose wife was a third-grade teacher. “The education they get, a lot of times, determines how they do as they move on.” But despite the central role educators play in the lives of children, they are often taken for granted, said state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. “All too often, we forget to celebrate just how important teachers are,” Tisch said. “I applaud the Daily News for celebrating the greatness that the teaching force of the city represents.” The News has teamed up with the city Department of Education, the United Federation of Teachers and the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators to honor public and private school workers who have committed their lives to helping children. Judges will rate instructors who display qualities of generosity, compassion, dedication, selflessness and ingenuity, and will present awards at a ceremony Sept. 19. Liz Cho, a news anchor on WABC and one of the awards presenters, said she was excited to recognize New York City teachers — collectively one of her biggest inspirations as a mom. “I am thrilled to be a part of this year’s ceremony honoring the men and women charged with the most important job out there — educating our children,” Cho said. “Their enthusiasm, wisdom, passion and tireless efforts, day in and day out, are inspiration for me as a parent and to us all.” Hometown Heroes will recognize educators for accomplishments Continue Reading

Sports TV listings for Phoenix

Listings may not reflect higher-tier television provider services, such as sports tiers. Programming from satellite providers may vary. Events, times and opponents are subject to change at any time. All events are live unless otherwise noted. Check with your TV provider (cable company or satellite service) for specific channel numbers. Not all channels are available on all TV packages. Items in bold text are live and local events. COLLEGE BASKETBALLCreighton at Butler, 5 p.m., FS1West Virginia at Baylor, 5 p.m., ESPN2Illinois at Michigan State, 5 p.m., ESPNBoston College at North Carolina State, 5 p.m., FSAZRhode Island at La Salle, 5 p.m., CBSSNRutgers at Ohio State, 5 p.m., Big Ten NetworkMississippi State at Texas A&M, 5 p.m., SEC NetworkMississippi at Missouri, 7 p.m., ESPN2Kentucky at Arkansas, 7 p.m., ESPNNorthern Iowa at Valparaiso, 7 p.m., CBSSNIndiana at Nebraska, 7 p.m., Big Ten NetworkVanderbilt at LSU, 7 p.m., SEC NetworkSt. Louis at Dayton, 7 p.m., ESPNU OLYMPICSCurling (Men): Canada vs. Japan, 12 a.m. (in progress), NBCSNHockey (Men’s Playoff Round), 12:30 .m., NBCSNMedal Ceremonies, 3 a.m., OLYHDHockey (Men's Playoff Round), 5 a.m., USA NetworkHockey (Men's Playoff Round), 5:10 a.m., NBCSNCurling (Men): U.S. vs. Switzerland, 3 p.m., CNBCFigure Skating: Olympic Ice, Figure Skating, 5 p.m., NBCSNSnowboarding, Bobsled, Alpine, Figure Skating, 6 p.m., Ch. 12Freestyle Skiing, Short Track, 11:05 p.m., Ch. 12 SOCCERUEFA Champions League: Chelsea vs. FC Barcelona, 12:30 p.m., FS1UEFA Champions League: Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, 12:30 p.m., FS2 TENNISDubai Duty Free Championship, 3 a.m., beINATP Delray Beach Open and ATP Rio Open Early Round, 10:30 a.m., Tennis ChannelATP Delray Beach Open and ATP Rio Open Early Round, 3:30 p.m., Tennis Channel BASKETBALLNBA G-League: Greensboro Swarm at Lakeland Magic, 9 a.m., NBA Network COLLEGE BASEBALLLamar at Texas, 6;30 p.m., Longhorn Network Arkansas vs. Continue Reading

ESPN to roll out 3-D sports TV channel in June; ‘Avatar’s success pushes 3-D into homes

The World Wide Leader In Sports is taking its coverage of athletics to the next dimension.ESPN has announced that it will launch the first three-dimensional television network on June 11th with a World Cup soccer match between Mexico and South Africa.ESPN and ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer announced that ESPN 3D plans on showcasing at least 85 live sporting events during the first year, including World Cup matches, the Summer X Games, NBA games, college basketball and college football. The new network also won't feature reruns and will be dark when no events are broadcast in 3D.And ESPN is not alone in its quest to take television to the next level of clarity. The Discovery Channel, along with Sony and IMAX, have announced that they too will launch a 3D channel in 2011.Despite the bold announcements, there are many barriers yet to be crossed before America is sold on TV in 3D.To watch the new 3D picture, viewers will have to invest in an expensive 3D-capable television or a special set-top box for the top of the TV, don special glasses and possibly pay a premium. Plus, broadcasting in 3D is no easy chore for the networks. Regular high-definition cameras, especially at sporting events, don't translate to a 3D broadcast.Regardless of the impediments, ESPN and Discovery's commitment to 3D would seem to be a major step toward the adoption of 3D technology not just in movie theaters, but in home theaters as well. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Sports TV listings: What’s on when

SUBJECT TO CHANGE AUTO RACING 1 a.m. (Saturday)FS1 — FIA Formula E, Hong Kong E-Prix, race 1 COLLEGE BASKETBALL 10:30 a.m.CBSSN — Hall of Fame Belfast Classic, Holy Cross vs. Manhattan 1 p.m.CBSSN — Hall of Fame Belfast Classic, La Salle vs. Towson 6 p.m.BTN — Purdue at Maryland 7 p.m.ESPN2 — North Carolina vs. Davidson 8 p.m.BTN — Illinois at Northwestern 9 p.m.ESPN2 — Creighton at Gonzaga COLLEGE FOOTBALL 7 p.m.ESPN — Pac-12 championship game, Southern Cal vs. Stanford GOLF 4:30 a.m.GOLF — European PGA, Mauritius Open, second round 11:30 a.m.GOLF — Hero World Challenge, second round 8:30 p.m.GOLF — PGA Tour of Australasia, Australian PGA Championship, third round 2:30 a.m. (Saturday)GOLF — European PGA, Mauritius Open, third round MEN’S SOCCER 9 a.m.FS1 — FIFA, 2018 World Cup final draw MIXED MARTIAL ARTS 7 p.m.FS1 — The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, prelims 9 p.m.FS1 — The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale NBA 7 p.m.FSM-PLUS — Minnesota at Oklahoma City NHL 7 p.m.FSM — L.A. Kings at St. Louis SKIING 11:30 a.m.NBCSN — FIS World Cup, men’s super-G, at Beaver Creek, Colo. 1:30 p.m.NBCSN — FIS World Cup, women’s downhill, at Lake Louise, Alberta WOMEN’S BASKETBALL 11 a.m.FSM — Alabama at TCU WOMEN’S SOCCER 4 p.m.ESPNU — NCAA Tournament, national semifinal, Stanford vs. South Carolina 6:30 p.m.ESPNU — NCAA Tournament, national semifinal, Duke vs. UCLA AUTO RACING 1 a.m. (Sunday)FS1 — FIA Formula E, Hong Kong E-Prix, race 2 COLLEGE BASKETBALL 8:30 a.m.CBSSN — Hall of Fame Belfast Classic, third-place game 11 a.m.CBSSN — Hall of Fame Belfast Classic, finalFS1 — Cincinnati at XavierFSM — South Carolina State at North Carolina State 11:30 a.m.CBS — Indiana at Michigan 1 p.m.CBSSN — Georgia at MarquetteESPNU — Wichita State at Continue Reading


YOU READ THEM every day. Now you can see them live. New York's No. 1 sports section hits the airwaves today at 5 p.m. with the premiere of "Daily News Live" on SportsNet New York, the new TV home of the Mets. The groundbreaking show will bring the city's sports issues to life, featuring New York's best sportswriters and editors tackling the issues of the day. Each weekday, you'll be able to see and hear The News' sports scribes as they dissect all that's going on in the world of sports - in New York and beyond - for a full hour. "This is a great showcase for our talented writers," sports editor Leon Carter said. "Viewers will see and hear writers who have made us the top sports section in the city. We are thrilled. It's an exciting time for the staff." Today's debut episode will feature Knicks beat writer Frank Isola, who should have plenty to talk about with the feud between Larry Brown and Stephon Marbury simmering. Award-winning investigative reporter T.J. Quinn also will be in the studio. "We are eagerly looking forward to the debut telecast of 'Daily News Live,' where we will feature the top journalists and media personalities in the industry who will discuss the sports issues of the day," said Jon Litner, president of SportsNet New York. "We're committed to making this show appointment viewing for all sports fans in the New York and tri-state area." Today's special guests are Jets running back Curtis Martin and St. John's coach Norm Roberts. Veteran sports anchor Gary Apple will host the show, which can be seen on Ch. 26 on Time Warner Cable and Ch. 77 on Comcast. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading