ESPN’s hot dog contest: Coney as hell


Everyone loves a good Nathan’s. I like mine covered in chili. But coverage of today’s annual 4th of July hot dog eating contest by ESPN is one hell of a dog. I’m watching it live now. It’s full of production problems. These announcers are horrible, or they are being led by a really poor production team.
The first thing that caught my attention was an unmentioned graphic. The announcers talked about female competitors, using a graphic to illustrate successful women in male dominated sports. The graphic’s title was “Hear me roar!” But they didn’t talk about anybody except Sonya Thomas. The graphic stayed on the screen for about 20 seconds, and then they cut to Todd Harris. As Harris concluded his interview, his microphone took a few hits. We didn’t even hear his last sentence because someone faded down his audio and boosted the nat sound. But who doesn’t love hearing a little Led Zeppelin.
The biggest problem are the hosts. Could you imagine your lead basketball announcer calling Lebron James, Lebron Jones, or your lead football announcer calling Peyton Manning, Peyton Morning? Paul Page botched Joey Chestnut’s name as Chitwood at least once, although he said, “I keep doing that.” I had no idea who Page was, but based on his accent, I figured Chitwood was some sort of race car driver. Sure enough he is a daredevil that died more than 20 years ago. The only thing impressive about Page are his Popeye like forearms!
Not to be outdone by Page’s honest mistakes, was his sidekick. “Major league eating has grown faster than Kirstie Alley,” said the unidentified co-host. Sigh. It would be one thing, if they had hired someone like Mike Epps to be hilarious. This was the only attempt at humor during the entire coverage. Really this guy should have kept to the facts.
Having worked in TV news for nearly half of my life, I know there’s no such thing as a holiday. Everyone has to work around the clock. There are very few days a year without sports, so naturally ESPN has to staff their events. This is a popular spectacle, but we know we won’t be seeing Musburger, Breen, or Patrick. But who in the hell are these guys? When it comes to the coverage of this event, Chick Hearn would say it best. The mustard indeed came off the hot dog, sotospeak.

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~ by sotospeaks on July 4, 2010.

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