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Reader E-Mail: Who Calls Talent and Production Staff on Errors?

Sunday, February 17, 2008 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 8:11 PM, under , ,

Waterbury, CT (Feb 17, 2008) - Eye on Sports Media received an interesting reader E-Mail yesterday that hit kind of close to home, especially after a silly error I made at the end of the Tennessee-Georgia game yesterday. We will be forwarding this to ESPN, but it is worth discussing in the here and now.

Am I the only person who noticed that during the closing minutes of the UCONN vs USF men's basketball game on 2/18 the following happened?

1. A graphic showing remaining games for both teams listed games in Nov. and Dec. for USF. ([Mike] Gleason skidded right over this)

2. The graphic appears showing the final score of the Syracuse upset over G'Town and Gleason says there are seven minutes to play.

3. Near the end of the broadcast Gleason says his producer just told him that G'Town came back to beat Syracuse.

OK - You guys have your "eye on sports media" right? So who calls Gleason and the production crew on this one?

Just curious...

Feedback would be appreciated.

Hartford, CT

VN, Eye on Sports Media definitely feels your pain on this, and we can almost certainly guarantee that Gleason, as well as the game's producer will be getting flack from management these mistakes. Not to make excuses, but mistakes like this do happen, especially in tight games like the UCONN - USF game yesterday (what the heck is USF doing in the Big East anyway????).

I did not see it because I was stage managing the Tennessee at Georgia game, and sure enough I made a mistake towards the end of the game. There was one last sponsor promotion that had to be read on air. The game was so tight and so exciting, the crowd noise behind me was incredibly loud, and I could not hear the producer telling me to give the card to the play-by-play man. I did not get it to him on time and he had to totally ad lib. The producer and I discussed this afterwards, but know that I was kicking myself.

A lot can and does happen during a live broadcast of a game, as I wrote yesterday when the lights went out in Georgia. I know that I cannot prevent errors in the truck, but I always have my laptop and a live internet connection so that if scoring issues do come up like the Georgetown-Syracuse game, I can get a verification right there and give it to the talent (while telling the producer).

So what kinds of things may have contributed to the errors you describe above?:

1. The Producer did not go through the full screen graphics with the talent before the game went on air, or if he/she did, the wrong graphic was brought up by the Chyron/Duet operator and/or the graphics coordinator. The rule is to leave a bad graphic up rather than change it on air and bring further attention to the error. It sounds like Gleason did a good job "skidding over" this error.

2. It is hard to say why Gleason did not give the score as it read in the on-air graphic. There are any number of reasons this could have happened, and there is no way to second guess him here.

3. I cannot imagine the producer telling the talent that Georgetown had come back unless someone had fed him/her bad information. Again, there is no excuse for this and I am sure someone will be yelled at for these mistakes.

Listening to a game called by Mike Gleason and Mike Jarvis is not high on my list of games that I really want to hear. But this does not mean that their job is not difficult. And what you saw may very well be a result of the fact that so many games are televised these days. 141 Men's Division I games were played yesterday, and 54 were televised. So as you move down the food chain of crews assigned to games, the likelihood of errors happening is greater. Bottom line is that the errors hit the people who make them as much as the viewers that see them.

So what is on my hit-list of bone-headed errors that I was involved with (and was fully remorseful about)?:

1. Many, many years ago, I was hired to be the Chyron (graphics) Operator for a live broadcast of a George Mason men's basketball game. The truck was four hours late, and I had less than 3 hours to build all of the graphics for the game. Of course, they did not hire a graphics coordinator, which made the job much harder. My point of embarrassment came when it was time to post the full page final score and I inadvertently pulled up the halftime score. I was indeed thoroughly chewed out.

2. Around the same time frame, I was one of the weekend Chyron Infinit! operators for the Mizlou Sports News Network. The Infinit! was very new and had some software bugs. One of these caused all of the graphics stored in the machine to start scrolling on air and it could not be stopped. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I am a guy. I kid you not. The director was cursing and screaming and came back to the graphics room screaming "Which bimbo did that?" When he saw it was one of the guys he said "Oh it's ok now, just get it fixed." Who ever said television sports wasn't a sexist business?

Eye on Sports Media will forward your questions to ESPN and if they do choose to reply, publish their response.

Please keep those cards and letters coming!

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