Fes­tivus vent of me­dia gripes

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - TOP OF THE SECOND - Phil Rosen­thal

Gather around the un­adorned alu­minum pole, it’s Fes­tivus time again.

Since 1997, when the TV show “Se­in­feld” in­tro­duced the sec­u­lar hol­i­day to the na­tion at large, Dec. 23 has been marked by feats of strength, cel­e­bra­tions of Fes­tivus mir­a­cles and, of course, the an­nual air­ing of griev­ances. In that hol­i­day spirit, your neigh­bor­hood sports me­dia colum­nist sum­mons his in­ner Frank Costanza to share his gripes for the year.

Thanks to TV in gen­eral and es­pe­cially ESPN, which owns and op­er­ates 14 bowls, col­lege foot­ball has way too many post­sea­son games. What for close to 100 years was a re­ward for an ex­cep­tional sea­son now is of­ten the equiv­a­lent of a par­tic­i­pa­tion rib­bon, thanks to a glut of 40 FBS bowl games and 80 post­sea­son berths. To fill out the 2019-20 bowl field, 13 teams — in­clud­ing Illi­nois — don’t have win­ning records. The world doesn’t need the Bad Boy Mow­ers Gasparilla Bowl that much.

On a sim­i­lar note, as long as the NHL is cool with let­ting more than half its teams into the post­sea­son, why not let all of them in? What dif­fer­ence would it make?

If a sports ra­dio talk show can’t make dis­cus­sions of wa­ger­ing and fan­tasy foot­ball in­ter­est­ing for non-bet­tors as well as in­vestors, best to re­think the ap­proach — or the con­tent.

Just be­cause a TV com­mer­cial isn’t fill­ing the en­tire screen, don’t think for a mo­ment we don’t con­sider it a full-on com­mer­cial.

We all know Cow­boys owner Jerry Jones is in­cred­i­bly in­flu­en­tial when it comes to NFL TV con­tracts. But un­less he’s hav­ing a fit in his suite be­cause his team is im­plod­ing on the field yet again, we don’t need to see him dur­ing a game.

Stop re­fer­ring to for­mer coaches who are now TV an­a­lysts as “Coach.” It’s a job, not an elected of­fice or cabi­net po­si­tion.

The worst part of ESPN’s “Mon­day Night Foot­ball” is how much al­most ev­ery­one on ESPN talks it up. The se­cond worst part is Joe Tes­si­tore, who’s a much bet­ter play-by-play fit for the out­sized minia­ture golf show he does for ABC.

More base­ball teams should fol­low the Dodgers’

lead in re­fus­ing to grant spe­cial ac­cess for network TV an­a­lysts who dou­ble-dip as front-of­fice em­ploy­ees for ri­val teams. Pick a job, peo­ple.

If the team you lead is be­low .500, your ads should not be on na­tional TV. Yeah, we’re look­ing at you, Baker May­field.

Rather than get­ting fill-in play-by-play an­nounc­ers on most Bulls road games in place of the re­tir­ing Neil Funk, we would greatly pre­fer fill-in Bulls.

Ex­tra time in soc­cer makes no sense. Why can’t the refs just stop the clock and start it again? The guess­ing game at the end of matches is silly. We all know it’s not over till it’s over, but ev­ery­one should know when it’s go­ing to be over.

Those who com­plain about their ca­ble bill sub­si­diz­ing the White Sox, Cubs, Bulls and Black­hawks need to be re­minded their ca­ble bill prob­a­bly al­ready sub­si­dizes Skip Bay­less and Rut­gers ath­let­ics.

Fox has as­signed three of its nine Bears games so far this sea­son to an­nouncer Dick Stock­ton. We all know that the Bears have been a dis­ap­point­ment this sea­son, but re­ally? Imag­ine if Chicago weren’t the No. 3 tele­vi­sion mar­ket in the coun­try.

NBC Sports Chicago keeps us­ing tech­nol­ogy to make ads ap­pear on the glass that aren’t re­ally there dur­ing Black­hawks games. Not even that sort of spe­cial ef­fect can make it ap­pear as though the Hawks are any good.

If sports leagues are go­ing to keep re­ly­ing on re­play re­view, they should open it up and let TV view­ers see and hear the re­view in progress. Bet­ter than hav­ing rules ex­perts guess what ver­dicts are based upon, es­pe­cially when the ver­dicts are wrong.

Late-sea­son foot­ball re­play re­views in north­ern cli­mates at out­door sta­di­ums should in­clude a timer, tem­per­a­ture and wind chill fac­tor graphic just to re­mind ev­ery­one how un­pleas­ant these things are for ticket buy­ers, play­ers and oth­ers in at­ten­dance.

ESPN re­ally ought to of­fer al­ter­nate feeds for “Sun­day Night Base­ball” and “Mon­day Night Foot­ball” the way it does for col­lege foot­ball play­off games. Stat­casts, gam­bling-cen­tric cov­er­age and feeds tai­lored to fans of par­tic­i­pat­ing teams all are worth ex­plor­ing on sis­ter chan­nels and streams.

There needs to be a re­stric­tion on how of­ten ad­ver­tis­ers can re­peat the same com­mer­cial dur­ing sports events in a given day or week. That’s es­pe­cially true dur­ing the NCAA tour­na­ment, when AT&T had our ears ring­ing and spots for Orange Vanilla Coke left a taste in our mouth al­most as bad Orange Vanilla Coke.

If NBC Sports Chicago’s “The Daily Line” doesn’t im­prove, we’ll set­tle for in­fomer­cials. Or more Bulls and Black­hawks reruns — which is say­ing some­thing.


Frank Costanza, played by ac­tor Jerry Stiller, left, ex­plains the mean­ing of Fes­tivus in a scene from the 1997 “Se­in­feld” episode “The Strike.”

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