A nice day here in Southern New England and I’m at home watching some good sports action as we have afternoon MLB games, the U.S. Open, a little CFL and some college football later. A good sports day for the Labor Day holiday. Before I do the links, let’s go into one of the stranger nights on sports television on Sunday.
Last night, ESPN got stuck with two weather delays for two events, in college football at the Marshall at West Virginia game and at NASCAR in Atlanta. ESPN handled both situations as best as it could, first updating viewers on lighting approaching Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, WV. As players were hustled off the field before 6 p.m., ESPN threw to its studio with Ryan Burr and Robert Smith who deftly filled the time with highlights and comments.
Then as the NASCAR window approached, Burr threw it to Atlanta and the NASCAR Countdown crew led by Nicole Briscoe. The prerace program went as scheduled for the half-hour and at 7 p.m. when the race coverage was supposed to begin, ESPN updated viewers on the rain from Tropical Storm Lee that hit Atlanta and was wreaking havoc. However, ESPN said that it was hoped that the race would begin “within the hour.”
It was during this time ESPN kept switching back and forth between Atlanta and the ESPN studios in Bristol, CT to fill time. Then at 8:50 p.m., ESPN went back to Morgantown for the game. While ESPN did not inform viewers publicly, it was learned via Twitter that the game would be switched to ESPNU if NASCAR started and we also learned via Twitter that NASCAR was hoping to get the race started at 10:30 p.m.
ESPN was balancing between the two venues hoping that it would not have to bump one event for the other. And at 9:05 p.m., ESPN got another jolt when authorities pulled Marshall and West Virginia for another lightning delay. Ryan Burr and Robert Smith were back to quickly throw things back to Atlanta where Nicole Briscoe relayed to viewers of the 10:30 p.m. start time and it was when we began seeing shots of the track dryers going around the Atlanta Speedway circuit.
During the delay, ESPN went back to Morgantown for an update on the weather from its announcing team, Joe Tessitore, Rod Gilmore and sideline reporter Quint Kessenich. It was during this update that ESPN showed a lightning strike at 6:02 p.m. that looked like it struck the stadium. Kessenich reported that the strike hit the stadium and a fan in the upper deck and from the screengrab, it certainly looks like it did. However, scuttlebutt was surfacing that there were no independent news on the strike.
And later, West Virginia State Police denied that no fan had been hit and the lightning strike was close to the stadium, but did not hit it. In addition, West Virginia University Media Relations published its own statement on the story. So where did Kessenich get his information and as Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand correctly asked, why didn’t ESPN issue a correction on the story? ESPN certainly had plenty of chances to correct it.
At 10 p.m., ESPN had Robert Flores and Stuart Scott start SportsCenter early. It went right to Atlanta where NASCAR race caller Allen Bestwick interviewed NASCAR President Mike Helton who announced that with the rains from Tropical Storm Lee, it was impossible to restart the race Sunday and as rains would continue into Monday, the race would be rescheduled to 11 a.m. Tuesday.
A quick toss back to SportsCenter and then, at 10:24, ESPN thew it back to Morgantown where it was announced the game was going to be called with West Virginia leading Marshall 34-13. Again, the lightning strike from 6:02 p.m. was shown. After 11 p.m., the strike was not referenced and the report of the fan was not raised again. So why didn’t ESPN retract or correct it? No word from the network on this. However, it’s a situation where a story is front of them and they didn’t get it right. And there was no correction. ESPN has to do a better job.
And as I watched the 2 p.m. SportsCenter on ESPNews, the network has chosen to ignore its erroneous report on the lightning strike rather than issue a correction.
Now to the links.
Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News says despite being dropped by Verizon FiOS, Tennis Channel is talking with the cable provider to return to the lineup.
The Associated Press reports that Missouri is the next Big 12 school to announce its own digital network joining Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas State.
Glenn Davis at SportsGrid has the video of Rafael Nadal cramping up during his U.S. Open press briefing yesterday.
Dan Fogarty of SportsGrid wonders why a mascot is being taken off the court on a stretcher during the EuroBasket Championships.
Timothy Burke at his Mocksession site shows an unfortunate ESPN crowd cutaway during yesterday’s Marshall-West Virginia game.
Joe Favorito asks smaller universities if it’s worth the payday to go to a large FCS school and get beaten up on the football field.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times explores the dispute between Tennis Channel and cable providers Cablevision and Verizon FiOS.
Tom Jones of the St. Petersburg Times has praise for NBC’s Notre Dame coverage and ESPN’s College GameDay.
David Barron from the Houston Chronicle speculates on the future of the Longhorn Network if Texas goes to the Pac-12.
Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman liked Gus Johnson and Charles Davis’ work on the Tulsa-Oklahoma game, but Kevin Frazier and Marcus Allen, not so much.
Dusty Saunders at the Denver Post says Colorado fans will have to scramble to find Saturday’s game against Cal.
Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News has the sports calendar for this week.
Raju Mudhar of the Toronto Star says NFL gamers are gearing up for the season.
Bruce Dowbiggin from the Toronto Globe and Mail wonders if the public really needed to know the details of Wade Belak’s suicide.
The Paranoid Puck reports that former Dallas Stars coach Marc Crawford will be joining TSN and former MSG host Christine Simpson returns to Canada to work for Rogers Sportsnet.
The Canadian Sports Media Blog has some Labour Day thoughts.
Matt Yoder at Awful Announcing has some typos both on TV and online.
Sports Media Watch says Nielsen will be tracking fewer TV households this year.
Steve Lepore at Puck The Media notes that Versus will be airing some NHL preseason games for the first time.
And that will do it for today.