Friday, March 14

Keys to the game

It's time. It's time for sports broadcasts to do away with the ridiculous "Keys to the Game" feature they insist on presenting right before the tip-off, kick-off, or first pitch of most every televised game. The reason I say this is because they so rarely provide any insight into what to expect from the game and end up being a collection of generalizations, platitdes, and non sequiturs.

Football keys to success are usually the worst and most cliched; it's always some variation on:
1) Win the turnover battle (this is true for every single football game ever and analysts still present it as if it were brand-new intelligence)
2) Establish the run (not really a key in most games)
3) Be aggressive (or some similar nonsense)

An NFL broadcaster could literally use the same three generic keys to the game for all 16 games he does in a season and not one person would notice. As for baseball, I think I lose a few brain cells every time a broadcaster cites one or more starting pitchers as keys to the game.

As a specific example from basketball, take the Cavs game last night, with "Austin Carr Facts." I'm not picking on Carr here because I think he's a particularly egregious offender - this just happens to be the most recent game I've seen. Anyway, his three keys were:

1) Be ready to play
2) Stop Carter and Jefferson

The first one isn't anything. If you look at it, it disintegrates into the computer monitor, vanishing upon being exposed as the fraud it is. I think it goes without saying (or at least should, according to the thesis of this article) that every team in every sport should be ready to play the game - otherwise, why show up? The point here was probably that the Cavs should avoid a slow start (like, say, falling behind 23-6 to the Nets), but you could again argue that every team in every game, with the possible exception of the Harlem Globetrotters, wants to get ahead early and, preferably, remain there. That sentence had seven commas.

The second one seems like a specific, possibly useful basketball-related item, but isn't really. I mean, of course you want to try to limit the other team's top scorers, like you do in every other basketball game. I wonder if the Nets broadcast team had "Stop LeBron" as one of their keys. More useful would be FSN Ohio pointing out a less-heralded player with, say, career success against the Cavs, or a guy who has been playing well and might have a major impact on tonight's game. Nope, instead we get: focus on the opponent's best players.

I feel a bit sheepish here because I can't remember the other one, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that's because it also was of little or no value and thus, despite explicit instructions to the contrary, my brain elected to forget it.


Anonymous said...

yeah, "mr. cavalier" really can state the obvious with the best of them. he should change his name to "mr. duh". i still like when mike ditka once said "the team who scores the most and gives up the least points will win the game". classic.

Nick said...

Another one of my favorites for football: "Win the battle in the trenches."