Sunday, 13 September 2009

Dear Sky Sports

Please, for the sake of my sanity, change the announcing/presenting team for the NFL coverage immediately.

Every season we suffer, without respite, the idiocy and inanity of the sock puppet that is Nick Halling, the uninformed "analysis" and apparently drug induced diction of Kevin Cadle, and the even worse guest presenters. I appreciate that the NFL is a minority sport in your eyes, but in the name of all that is holy, is it too much to ask that you target competency at a bare minimum.

"The score ... in our ball game... is 10 nothing". We know Kevin, we can read. In fact, by the time you finish reading the score to us, we could probably have perused War and Peace as well. We only listen to see if you'll remember which of the 32 teams are actually playing in the telecast. "The score... in our ball game... is 10 ... nothing". We know this still Kevin, because we have what is referred to as an attention span.

Stop laughing that fake laugh Halling. I'm coming to you in a second.

First though, a word on the organisation of the announcing/presenting panel. In my humble opinion the show requires:

1 - a presenter.
2 - an analyst
3 - a colour guy

These roles should be distinct. This means that, although Sky have tried to adhere to this formula, you should try harder. My main complaints are as follows:

1 - the presenter should offer no analysis. Leading questions are acceptable, but the function of the presenter is to stitch the telecast together, to make the often patchy flow of the American programming and game seem more seamless. We accept that the presenter may not be an expert, in fact, we expect it, we've watched the rugby and soccer coverage on Sky. However, once this acceptance is given, we should not be subjected to uninformed opinion and waffling. We're managing that on our own at home.

2 - the analyst position for a British audience is a difficult role. The educated/experienced audience wants the analyst to use the extra time afforded him by the lesser commercial playing time in the UK television market to highlight hidden actions or plays and add to our appreciation of the tactics or physicality of the game. We also understand that the analyst needs to be explaining concisely more basic concepts to bring new audience members into the sport. Nick Halling is simply incapable of doing either. A case in point was in the Redskins vs Giants game this evening. Instead of showing why a Redskins drive starting on their 2 had faltered, leaving the Redskins in a giant tactical hole, Halling showed a scuffle which had already been rerun by the Fox announcers and was guaranteed to be shown again. This would have been an ideal opportunity to discuss play calling selection, blocking, the 4 downs concept, or any number of issues. Instead, I got to use my Sky+ functionality.

3 - the colour guy. Ideally this person would either be triggering discussion with the analyst, highlighting player matchups where victory or defeat could be reached, discussing their experience. Instead, last season we had Shaun Gayle, who seemed amiable but confused. Having learnt from your mistake, you have selected former journeyman Johnnie Mitchell to fill the seat, a man whose grasp of the English language could be fairly described as cursory. I understand that Jeff Reinebold has returned to the coaching ranks, but there must be other former NFL Europe coaches, or indeed coaches working in the British ranks who are lucid, presentable and informed.

Finally, we love fantasy football. It helps you to track the accomplishments of players across the league (in fact, that's what it was designed for!). We don't need to hear about it every thirty seconds.

Five used to present a significantly better coverage of the NFL much later in the night with only two presenters. Colin Murray may be available to present, Mike Carlson may have space in his schedule to replace Halling, and a sock puppet voiced by an American could ably replace Mr Mitchell.

So, to repeat my plea - get rid of the presenters. They're killing me.

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