Potty Time: BCS Sideline Reporting Belongs in the Bowl

G.L. WatkinsContributor IJanuary 5, 2007

IconOkay, this isn't exactly earth-shattering news—but television sideline reporting has officially gone down the toilet.

During the New Year's Day Bowlfest on FOX, a sideline reporter—I don't know her name, because I usually tune them out—was in the stands at the Cotton Bowl talking to David Irons, Sr., father of Auburn University's explosive running back Kenny and speedy cornerback David, Jr.

Like 98 percent of the sports-watching world, I've got no use for sideline reporters. Never have; never will. From Phyllis George and that Kennedy woman all the way up to Tony Siragusa—they're an annoying waste of air time, and only serve to detract from the action on the field.

And it doesn't make sense.

These are otherwise intelligent people, I assume. If they're smart enough to convince producers that they know their stuff, you'd think that they'd be able to handle themselves in front of a camera. But in the heat of the moment, when they should be shining, sideline jockeys are inevitably unable to think of interesting or probing questions. In fact, their brains seem to turn to mush. To wit:

"Coach, how important is it for you to outplay the other team?"

"Can you tell me how you felt after scoring that touchdown?"

"What did you have for breakfast?"

Sound familiar?

David Irons, Sr. has done a few interviews in his time. In August, for example, he told a USA TODAY reporter about how he used makeshift equipment to run his young sons through NFL-style drills while they were playing Pop Warner ball.

"For one backyard drill," Irons said, "the boys had to stand in a hula hoop, turn and catch a ball fifteen consecutive times before being allowed in the house. If they dropped it, they had to start over. The ball would be on its way when they turned around and if you missed it, it would hit you in the nose, so it made your eyes focus quicker."

Now, that's kinda interesting: A dad who drove a UPS truck for a living spent his off-hours helping his sons become better football players. Obviously this man has some stories to tell about his boys—about how proud he is of them and about what he hopes for their futures...

So what does our intrepid Fox sideline reporter ask?

"With one son playing offense and another playing defense, how do you decide when to go to the bathroom?"

Blink, blink. Did I just hear that right? When do you go to the bathroom? What?

Mr. Irons was taken aback, too. He paused. I could see the wheels spinning in his head. How to answer such an inane and totally inappropriate question?

The best response probably would have been to laugh it off and change the subject—to talk instead about how great it was to be there, or how glad he was that his sons were contributing to a solid performance by the Tigers. But how can you expect a parent who may have never been on TV before to be that quick on his feet? With a camera in his face and a national audience waiting for an answer, God bless him, Mr. Irons did the best he could:

"I hold it. I don't go at all. Not at halftime. I just hold it."


Thank goodness there were no follow-up questions about the risk of bladder infections or kidney damage.

If I'm Mr. Irons, I'm pretty pissed off today. (No pun intended.) As it is, I'm embarrassed for him—and stupefied that the woman would ask such an inappropriate question.

Here's hoping that sound I just heard is a sideline career getting flushed.

G.L. Watkins is currently in the backyard of this Duluth, Georgia, home, running his 6-year-old son Alex through fumble drills and practicing his responses to idiotic questions from sideline reporters.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.