Logo for the DFR Audible post categoryDear ESPN,

I noted with interest a brief item in the news yesterday, to the effect that you plan on introducing something you call ”ESPN Virtual 3” on your Saturday night NBA coverage–some form of on-screen graphic that will “virtually light up” the 3-point line whenever a player takes a shot from behind the line.

Frankly, this announcement seems to raise more questions for me than answers. Questions like: Are you serious? And: no, really, are you serious? And, of course: have you stopped taking your medications?

Naturally, I ask the latter because only some form of untreated mental illness would lead someone to believe that basketball fans somehow have trouble figuring out when a player takes a shot from behind the 3-point arc.

You see, we viewers already have something that allows us to know when a 3-pointer has been launched: they’re called “eyes.” Since most NBA arenas are generally well-lit, and the games are not played under an obscuring shroud for secrecy, nor have the courts been known to have problems with thick fogs rolling in during the games, most viewers have the ability to see for themselves when a player launches from distance.

Even those viewers who are sight-impaired, in one way or another, can generally figure out that a trey is on the way. For instance, crowd reaction is often a good indicator. Or, when your Mike Tirico says something like, “Curry for 3!”, that too is often a solid hint that a 3-pointer is in the air. As it turns out, it’s really fairly obvious when a player shoots a three; contrary to what your senior coordinating producer Tim Corrigan says:

”it will give viewers instant clarity on whether a 3-point shot has been attempted, which hasn’t been consistently evident during a live telecast.”

…I’ve personally never found it to be not consistently evident during a telecast that a player is shooting a 3-pointer.

In fact, your presumed innovation–if indeed it’s not just a figment of your untreated mental disturbance–actually hearkens back to when FOX was covering the NHL, and they tried gimmicks–an indicator on the puck, visual trails on slapshots–to make the telecast “better” for the audience. I know you’ve been, shall we say, disengaged from the NHL for a while now, but if you were to turn over to NBC sometime, you would notice that none of FOX’s very FOXy innovations are used in today’s hockey broadcasts. Because they were stupid and unnecessary. And no one liked them. Because they were stupid.

This may come as a surprise to you–assuming you’re sane enough to be surprised by anything–but the sports fans who watch your broadcasts are, you know, sports fans. We know a thing or two about the games we watch, and we don’t need to be flashed with bells and whistles to enjoy the games we tune in to see.

So please, spend less time thinking up gimmicks to “improve” your broadcasts and more time considering ways you could really improve your coverage–like, for instance, getting better announcers than the Breen-Van Gundy-Jackson trio. Or barring that, simply do the simple thing: just show the damn game and get out of its way.




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