Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Monday Night Farewell

I know, it's already Wednesday. And if you really want to get technical about it, I didn't see a single minute of the final ABC Monday Night Football game between the Jets and the Patriots. No big deal—football isn't my first love, and I had no desire to watch the limping Jets get pounded again (although, to their credit, they did wind up making it a game. Sort of). But I still wanted to weigh in a little as MNF moves to cable.

In short, I think it sucks. What's next, Saturday Night Live switching to HBO? (Although that would probably be a decided improvement.) 60 Minutes to CNN? Howard Stern to satellite radio (oh wait).

On one level, it doesn't affect me at all. I've got my 500 channels, and can find ESPN as easily as I can ABC. And NBC is getting the Sunday night games, so ESPN isn't getting any MORE games. But there are still a few things that bother me:

1) Despite what you may have heard, not EVERYONE has cable. And some companies don't include ESPN in their basic package (which is ridiculous). So you get the Sunday night game. That's great, but after watching the two afternoon games, how many people settle in for the third? I know I don't. But Monday night, that's traditionally the marquee matchup, the one everybody watches. Not anymore.

2) MNF on ABC is a tradition. A staple. And it gets switched—to the cable partner of the network, no less—over money? As a follower of pro sports for damn near three decades, I KNOW it's all just business, but you can only have your nose rubbed in it so many times.

3) ESPN is taking over the world. They've hired every columnist and commentator, gotten the NBA, now added MNF. They want you to think they invented sports, despite the fact that they're not much older than the Orlando Magic and they got their start showing log rolling and lawn darts. Admittedly, SportsCenter WAS the center of the sports universe for a time, but it's pretty much been all style over substance for the past half-decade or so. No one I know in the industry watches SportsCenter anymore—ESPN News is much better. ESPN doesn't want to report the story, they want to BE the story, and it's painful to watch. Chris Berman hasn't been funny since 1990, and Stuart Scott hasn't been funny since ever. And now this is who I have to turn to for Monday Night Football? No thanks.


Ben said...
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Ben said...

The change to ESPN doesn't solve the problem at all, but I do understand the problem that caused ABC to dump MNF: crappy matchups.

Monday night matchups have to be planned so far in advance that you end up having to guess who'll be good at the beginning of the season, and we all know the NFL doesn't lend itself to those predictions. At the beginning of the year, Green Bay and Baltimore were both picked by many publications to win their divisions - so why would that be a bad matchup? Yet it ends up being 3-10 vs. 4-9. Fun.

The problem still isn't solved though, by switching around days and networks, so I'm not sure what the purpose is. And I do agree that a 3rd game on Sunday isn't exactly something I'd be up for. But it's also not like MNF was riveting, must-watch TV after the half way point of the year.

Russ said...

Yeah, valid points. And with the whole "parity" thing, lots of matchups are bad anyway—Jets/Bills today, ooh, lots of intrigue there (although Willis McGahee is fun to watch).

Not sure what the answer to that one is—I guess it would be hard to schedule games as the season progressed, even though all the teams probably have their own planes and stuff.

A possible solution would be to have TWO simultaneous Monday night games, so at least one would possibly be interesting, and one could be on network TV. Guess that would be expensive for the networks, though.

Either way, yeah, the bloom is pretty much off the rose. Can't wait to see what ABC does with the timeslot—MNF Classics, anyone?

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