When ESPN/ABC Sports caught the flash-hyped Twitter fever during today’s Suns-Mavericks anti-climatic finale to Phoenix’s playoff chances, any viewer with the slightest amount of tech savvy cringed when Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson rambled about Twitter in the same way they did when their parents first asked about “the Google”.
(Bless Erin Andrews, but this person just became our must-see sideline reporter)
However, sideline reporter Lisa Salters took the opportunity seriously to expand her game day role from occasional on-screen commenter to full-time backstage pass for hungry NBA fans. She provided wit, sass, and nuance to her usual league knowledge and carved out a new niche for sideline reporters everywhere. Try this on for size:
grant hill told me before the game that the suns WOULD show up today — he just looked over at me from the huddle and mouthed ‘i was wrong’
Imagine what might happen if ESPN/ABC Sports takes this new medium seriously.
Some of the information and personality seemed too good to be true from a major media player with a vested stake in keeping up appearances:
i have carlisle at the end of the 3rd — what do you want me to ask him?? since they’re up by 20+, does it really matter
i didn’t say i buy (Jason Richardson’s comments about the pressure being on Dallas today) — just wanted to know what y’all think
It’s clear ESPN/ABC Sports threw in the Twitter commentary almost as a lark; Salters’ Twitter page has none of the adornments that most professional Twitter pages possess. Also, the above comments make it clear no one at The Worldwide Leader censored her work. However, it will be a true test of their devotion to social media to see how long that lasts.
(Also, she will eventually learn that replies in Twitter help build a conversation that takes the tool from useful tidbit delivery system to the Global Frequency.)
By the end of Sunday’s excreable game, only approximately 1300 people have joined Salters’ small brigade. If ESPN/ABC Sports keeps this up, though, they’ll have a better connection to their younger media consumers and finally found a way to keep their sideline reporters involved by letting them provide the storytelling texture they were once intended to provide.