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TV pundits

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islander View Drop Down
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    Posted: 01 May 2019 at 18:26
Good article from The Times - having used up my 'one free story a week' pass on it I thought I'd share to avoid the Murdoch firewall, so have pasted it here.

Very much agree that this isn't a good direction for the game. Get some pundits and presenters who aren't afraid to criticise and ask the incisive, difficult Qs

RUGBY UNION | TOMMY CONLON

TV’s old pros are not tackling rugby’s big issues

Should Peter O’Mahony have got a yellow card on Saturday night? It happened in the second half, so surely our panel of experts would have an opinion afterwards.

Nah, only joking, it wasn’t even mentioned, and we didn’t have high hopes that it would.

Now, when eir sport announced last August that Tommy Bowe would be the front man in their coverage of the Pro14 season, we knew we weren’t getting Jeremy Paxman. We were getting a very nice fella who would be as bland as a bowl of tapioca. He would have all the edge of a bean bag stuffed with marshmallows.

It was eir sport essentially saying that their punditry would be stripped of editorial substance. They are not alone in this. Most television sport is heading in this direction, if it hasn’t got there already. It was always a shallow medium; it is getting shallower with every passing year. They want happy-clappy coverage; they want everything to be great, all the time, every game. A bad match will be good, a middling match will be brilliant, a good match will be outstanding. Even the most mundane acts on a pitch will be inflated into something admirable, special, exceptional. A standard piece of skill will be drooled over and slobbered with superlatives.

It is all born out of a desperation for ratings. They have paid big money for the TV rights to a sport and they’re damn well not going to say that “the product” is poor when they can pretend it’s great. If it requires pulling the wool over the viewers’ eyes, so be it.

Giving the presenting job to a former player rather than a professional media person trained in journalism is the logical extension of this corporate sensibility. Apart from anything else, it adds a veneer of credibility because a sportsman who has played at the highest level will know what he is talking about. But it is only a veneer. He is only a decoration if there isn’t much depth to his line of questioning. He isn’t much of a help if it doesn’t even dawn on him what questions to ask. He may have been a professional sportsman but this is a different job and he is a complete amateur, without a scintilla of a journalistic instinct about him.

It is bad enough having former players as pundits who are still so in love with the game, they cannot muster the necessary distance required to provide an independent edge. This applies to all sports. Time and again they prove themselves incapable of critical thought. Very often they are compromised by their connections to players and coaches involved in games they are supposed to be analysing. All of this is compounded by the reality that they have spent their lives playing rather than observing, living the game rather than thinking about it objectively.

The best that can be hoped for, and usually it is a forlorn hope, is that the presenter, the anchor man or woman, will have sufficient journalistic pedigree to steer the pundits down the necessary paths; to force them to address issues or controversies that arise in the course of a match. But most of the people — most, in fairness not all — who end up getting these prestige gigs tend to be the neutered type of journalist anyway. They are happy to be cheerleaders rather than reporters.

But when the presenter is himself a former player, the pundits are not going to get much editorial steering. The questions will generally invite them to gush rather than criticise.

After the Munster-Connacht match on Saturday evening at Thomond Park, Bowe asked Eddie O’Sullivan a question which, for a moment, we thought might be headed in the right direction. “With the physical game that Munster play, were you surprised that the likes of Peter O’Mahony . . .” That the likes of Peter O’Mahony didn’t get sin-binned for his foul play on Eoin McKeon?

Chance would be a fine thing. Instead, he was wondering why O’Mahony and CJ Stander weren’t taken off with 20 minutes to go in order to preserve them for next weekend’s game. O’Mahony had dragged McKeon to the ground in what was a potentially dangerous cheap shot; McKeon, the Connacht flanker, landed on his back, unable to get his hands down to break the fall. The grappling continued on the ground, O’Mahony pulling McKeon’s jersey off in this bovine demonstration of machismo. McKeon, showing the patience of a saint, just walked away.

The referee went to the TMO to take a look. The co-commentator on eir sport was Liam Toland, the former player. An articulate and usually perceptive judge, Toland basically copped out as he watched the slow-motion replays. “Well, I think there’s enough in it that Peter O’Mahony steps in . . . And this, what we just see there, that’s” — here there is a pregnant pause as he chooses his words — “that’s a little bit of afters.”

Yes, we could see for ourselves that it was “afters”. But was it reckless, dangerous, unacceptable, deserving of a yellow card? In our opinion, the referee bottled it by awarding just a penalty but no further sanction. It would have been nice to get the experts’ opinion on it but this was as good as it got in real time, while afterwards no one thought to mention it all — or O’Mahony’s belligerent behaviour in
general.

“All professions are conspiracies against the laity,” wrote George Bernard Shaw back in 1906. The rise of the punditocracy across all sports in the last two decades feels like a conspiracy among the TV companies and former players, against the viewers who are increasingly being charged more and more coin for sports which used to be free; and who are paying through the nose to be patronised with platitudes from old pros who are getting the money for old rope.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Eddie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 2019 at 18:46
It would be good if Roy Keane knew something about rugby. He is a great no holds barred pundit as to be fair is Garry Neville
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Raider999 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2019 at 18:48
Originally posted by Big Eddie Big Eddie wrote:

It would be good if Roy Keane knew something about rugby. He is a great no holds barred pundit as to be fair is Garry Neville


Gary Neville is certainly no such thing when Man Utd are playing
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bigmal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2019 at 20:00
At least he's been involved with the game comparatively recently unlike some ( stand up Jeremy G).

Seriously though were things any better when Bill McLaren was commentating ( before punditry) did he not gloss over certain examples of skulduggery?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JonDee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2019 at 20:17
[QUOTE=Bigmal]
At least he's been involved with the game comparatively recently unlike some ( stand up Jeremy G).

Seriously though were things any better when Bill McLaren was commentating ( before punditry) did he not gloss over certain examples of skulduggery?


[/QUOTE
He had no replays until the last few years , dodgy photography and a Black and White Screen so I would not argue with his commentaries . He also made some comments about some !!!!! plays when he could and was happy to make them about any player or team including Scotland . 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Raider999 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2019 at 20:39
Originally posted by JonDee JonDee wrote:

[QUOTE=Bigmal]
At least he's been involved with the game comparatively recently unlike some ( stand up Jeremy G).

Seriously though were things any better when Bill McLaren was commentating ( before punditry) did he not gloss over certain examples of skulduggery?


[/QUOTE
He had no replays until the last few years , dodgy photography and a Black and White Screen so I would not argue with his commentaries . He also made some comments about some !!!!! plays when he could and was happy to make them about any player or team including Scotland . 


Agreed, always enjoyed his commentary, unlike Eddie Butler - please get rid of him (or at least keep him away from England games)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Insignificant Tick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 May 2019 at 08:57
BT's coverage is very good.
If a game is poor ( last Friday night) they will say so. If there is violence, poor decision etc they will say so.
I think Ben Kay is the worst ( preoccupied with Leicester problems I suspect ) but generally I come away with the rugby experience I expect. I've been informed and had issues discussed and made clear.
Two items for improvement.
 A / when commentators speak over a ref who is explaining to the players the exact issue  they are talking about ( Ben Kay is the worst at this).Just shut up and let me hear, otherwise what is the point of allowing us to hear the ref at all. 
B / Lose the soundbite pitch side interviews with the coaching staff. Its embarrassingly mundane stuff and offers no insight and you can see the coach is irritated at having to take the microphone and talk when he should be coaching his side.


Edited by Insignificant Tick - 03 May 2019 at 08:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Raider999 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 May 2019 at 12:39
Originally posted by Insignificant Tick Insignificant Tick wrote:


BT's coverage is very good.
If a game is poor ( last Friday night) they will say so. If there is violence, poor decision etc they will say so.
I think Ben Kay is the worst ( preoccupied with Leicester problems I suspect ) but generally I come away with the rugby experience I expect. I've been informed and had issues discussed and made clear.
Two items for improvement.
 A / when commentators speak over a ref who is explaining to the players the exact issue  they are talking about ( Ben Kay is the worst at this).Just shut up and let me hear, otherwise what is the point of allowing us to hear the ref at all. 
B / Lose the soundbite pitch side interviews with the coaching staff. Its embarrassingly mundane stuff and offers no insight and you can see the coach is irritated at having to take the microphone and talk when he should be coaching his side.



Totally agree with all you have said
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