In the relatively short history of sports blogs, there have been several things that have served to greatly expand their visibility above and beyond the niche of the young, internet-savvy set. These things have often had one thing in common - ESPN. From Erin Andrews‘ sideline antics to Scott Van Pelt’s singles bar shenanigans to “You’re With Me, Leather,” sports blogs shone a much-needed, often hilarious spotlight on the actions and direction of the media behemoth and its employees.
Take, for example, the disparate treatment of ESPN mainstays Chris Berman and Scott Van Pelt. The sports blogosphere is as united in their distate for Berman’s tired schtick as they are united in their appreciation for Van Pelt’s self-deprecating everyman personality. These two extremes have never been more evident than they were in two separate stories today. Let’s discuss.
First up - Berman. He was the original ESPN caricature; his manner, face, and catchphrases helped cement ESPN in the national consciousness and made him a millionaire many times over. But over the years, he has developed an over-inflated self worth just begging to be taken down or at least mocked by anyone with an actual sense of humor or irony. Thus, bloggers used him as a pinata, and people started to take notice. People other than Chris Berman, that is. Unsurprisingly, people with respect for sports aren’t exactly thrilled that he is infiltrating the last bastion of non-hyperbolic sports broadcasting - golf. But does Berman care for that? No, Berman cares for himself. Witness today’s NEW YORK NEWSDAY interview with Berman regarding his role on US Open broadcasts:
”The Chris Berman viewer knows, because I always refer to it and do stuff with it during the Swami. I can’t advertise for the other 51 weeks, ‘Hey, by the way, you know I do the U.S. Open?’
“The Chris Berman viewer?” Really? How egotistical does someone have to be to believe that people are actually tuning into a sporting event to hear the announcers? Then, the self-loving sloth goes on to throw out some ludicrous false modesty:
Constructive criticism is great, but to say I have an act would be missing the point. You’re never going to please everyone anyway.
Emphasis ours, obviously. Of course you have an act, Chris. It’s what you do, and it’s why you think people are tuning in to see you. But then, let’s compare this to the goings-on of Scott Van Pelt. Van Pelt was revealed as the announcer for EA SPORTS’ Tiger Woods 2010 golf game, and the game’s promo reel shows precisely why Van Pelt “gets it,” that is, his role in the sports consciousness, as much as Berman doesn’t (via AWFUL ANNOUNCING):
At some point, as the younger generation becomes the dominant purchasing demographic, Berman will finally slide off into irrelevance, as many old out-of-favor sportscasters have done in the past. As far as we’re concerned, that day can’t come soon enough.