Chris Berman Calling Monday Night Football Game an Affront to Sports Fans
Because they're the "Worldwide Leader" and as such can shove it right in our earholes, ESPN has decided to let Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer team up to call Monday Night Football.
That broke this morning, and it's taken the better part of a day to realize this is actually happening: Berman, announcers booth, MNF, all starting with a preseason game in August, so he can practice how to fit 1970s band references in between snaps.
Why? Why oh-my-goodness why? The US Open wasn't enough? Or the Home Run Derby? Every time this man gets a microphone, it turns into the Berman Show, complete with enough "back, back, backs" and other associated shtick to cause Twitter to bang its head against the wall and the smart fan to hit mute.
Yet, here we are again.
As if "First Take" wasn't enough of a reminder, this news—this spit out my Starbucks news—is a slap-across-the-face reminder of how much ESPN owns sports and, conversely, us.
They are sports in this country. ESPN sets the standards, makes the rules, creates the narrative. They can do whatever they want, and we'll take it. See the proliferation of Skip Bayless, who more and more is becoming the story rather than just the one telling it.
We're not going to not watch Monday Night Football because Berman's on there. Ditto for Dilfer and his associated haters. We need the NFL, ESPN has games and we'll watch even if our brains hurt from absorbing television's talking monument to Being Past Your Prime. We are lucky that the only regular season game he's scheduled for is the second of the season-opening doubleheader, which to be fair, has never been nailed announcing-wise.
Maybe we're all just haters. That's what ESPN brass hinted at when B/R Lead Writer Dan Levy explored Berman in-depth in a must-read piece.
It seems that at times, criticizing Chris has become a pastime for some, as opposed to presenting an actual review of the work he does. What's important is he works hard, he’s prepared, he's extremely passionate about it and he is a huge sports fan which allows him to connect with the sports fans we serve.
But does he work hard? If he worked hard, he'd be attune to consumers and the way they consume media now. He's not. Is he prepared? If he was, he wouldn't rely on old references 20 years outside the target market.
But one part of that block quote is correct. Criticizing Berman has become sort of a pastime. Heck, I've done it more than once. And the rest of The Internet has as well. People who are way better at this stuff than me took their hacks today, and they swung for the fences.
Berman is intolerable even as studio host, even when he's on the mere fringes of a sporting event. Every time Tirico throws to Berman for a halftime preview during MNF, I tear both labrums reaching for the mute button. Now he's gonna throw his gunt around and commandeer the booth for a whole game? Christ, that's the worst.
ESPN simply can't be making this move with the best interest of its viewers and NFL fans in mind. Chris Berman stepping into the MNF booth is just another example ofpolitics and ego depriving sports fans of a better viewing experience ... This is little more than a lifetime achievement award for Bristol's golden calf ...
You get the point here. Sure, it's a pastime, but it's a pastime because we've been prodded by a bad product for years now. Not only that, but ESPN has built itself into something so powerful that the network is part of the fabric of our everyday lives. I literally watch hours of the network a day. At home, at work, at the train station for my daily commute. Your story could very well be similar. We become polarized by what the mothership does as a result.
Frankly, though, for every dude with a MacBook and an opinion, there's thousands of people who could care less: It's football; they watch it. Then there's those who find all the Swami stuff and the juke-move noises and the "Daylight Coming, You Gotta Delhomme" lines funny (before they switch over to "Two And A Half Men" on the DVR). People like me are outnumbered, no matter how angry we can get in 140 characters.
As Yoder wrote above, a lifetime achievement award is the perfect way to classify this, and that into itself shows a bigger problem. Berman is in the Hall of Fame. He's vastly credited for building ESPN into what it is today, and he has enough money to buy almost every website that has a bad thing to say about him. He is, and forever will be, a staple of sportscasting and ESPN. Even with all his faults, he could do a better job than any of us.
So how many mantelpieces does one need? Leave this one be.
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