Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sideline reporters add value, just maybe not with this question

Ideally - and contrary to the belief of some observers - sideline reporters in sports television can add tremendous value to broadcasts. Well-timed information such as injury updates, on-field observations and player background, and postgame interviews with coaches featuring pointed questions add a layer to the presentation that can't be accomplished just by having an announcing team in the booth.

ABC/ESPN's Heather Cox is one of the better sideline reporters in the business - pleasant, informative and clearly well-prepared. Saturday night after the Clemson-Georgia game, though, her opening question in a postgame interview seemed slightly overthought.

In what was a great Saturday night game on ABC, Clemson staved off Georgia, 38-35. As Clemson students rushed the field after the game, Cox landed the obligatory interview with the winning coach, Clemson's Dabo Swinney.

Her first question wasn't about a particular play or the standard, "How proud are you of this team?" Instead, Cox referenced a Swinney team theme for 2013 - of accomplishing the "unthinkable" - and attempted to tie it in, asking Swinney if the Tigers' win was unthinkable.

Well ... not so much. Clemson came into the game ranked eighth in the country, while Georgia was fifth. Clemson has a Heisman Trophy candidate in QB Tajh Boyd and, clearly, one of the best teams in the country. How an all-top 10 game in Week 1 could translate into an "unthinkable" win for the victor doesn't sound right.

In fairness to Cox, the unthinkable theme was a nice anecdote - the link above was the only one I could find referencing it online, and it likely came up in meeting with Swinney during game week.

But using it in that instance was at the very least not the best timing in the world.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH


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