Charles Pierce, the long-time political writer for Esquire, is now writing for Grantland. His essay about Monday Night Football last night is a good one.
I especially liked this passage:
Last night, as the opening of the 44th season of MNF, the league put together a doubleheader, so the original charm of the thing has been hopelessly diluted. Players once gloried in the notion that they were on the field while all their peers were watching at home. The old MNF crew used to hit town like a carnival of dancing egos. Now, it’s just the same vast flotilla of trailers and satellite dishes rumbling down the interstate from one Megalon LLC Stadium to another, indistinguishable from the one that follows NASCAR, or the PGA Tour, or Taylor Swift. And they’re all pursuing the concept of outlaw ballyhoo that Monday Night Football made possible, but never quite catching up with it, because it is gone forever.
In a sense, of course, all TV is watered down nowadays – we’re in a 2,000 channel era (how quaint now is Springsteen’s 57 Channels), plus Hulu, Netflix and so on. And ESPN is not unique in hyping/flogging its programming well past the breathless/unbelievably annoying point. But it makes me even more nostaglic for sports production that trusts that the game on the field is compelling enough not to have to overplay every other element of the broadcast. Nothing short circuits the juice/excitement I get from watching a game than the presumption that I tuned in for any reason other than the game itself.