Too much panic in NBA, NHL voices

With the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup playoffs both heating up, anyone following either sport’s postseason (and there are probably a few more hockey fans than basketball fans in the region) has to appreciate the relative patience and sanity that might return to sports once postseason play ends.

All too often at this time of year, one loss boosts or dooms a team for eternity, according to some of the folks on radio or TV. In reality, it’s only a matter of 48 hours, at most, until things change.

Do you remember less than a week ago when the Miami Heat were supposedly done, about to be eliminated by the Indiana Pacers?

National radio and TV (and it was not just ESPN) had every angle covered, from what would happen in the Game 7 meltdown to how the team’s roster would get reworked as a result.

Then, on the way to the gallows, something funny happened: Miami won the series. All the stories then changed again as a reactionary media, driven by shorter and shorter news cycles and ever-increasing competition for advertising revenue and consumers, moved onto something else.

Is it too much to ask for a little bit of patience over the course of a seven-game series? Or even a season?

It’s not just the media doing it, though. In some ways they simply parrot the approach of fans.

For example, listeners to “Sports Central with Cory Giger” last week heard Pittsburgh Pirates fans repeatedly pulling the plug on the team and its season – and it was 10 games over .500 at the time, weeks away from the All-Star break.

At times during the discussion, Giger was incredulous. So we do live in a more media-driven reactionary world these days, but it’s our world – because in many ways we’re driving the reaction just as much as the media.

Tuner tidbits

n TNT Sports picks up its coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting with Sunday’s Party in the Poconos 400. Race coverage begins at 1 p.m.

n “Sports Talk with Steve Jones and Brian Tripp” will be on site at the U.S. Open for the first round of play later this week. Specifically, Jones will be on site at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., while Tripp hosts the show.

n Make no mistake: USGA and NBC Sports have a rooting interest in the U.S. Open, and that comes in the form of Tiger Woods. Fewer people watch when he’s not in contention during the final round of a tournament. Overnight ratings for The Memorial a few weeks ago dropped 42 percent without Woods.

n Fox Sports announced a new broadcast team for its NFL coverage next season. It will be led by play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt, who had called Dallas Cowboys games on national radio, and analyst John Lynch. Also, Erin Andrews will work some games with that duo as the sideline reporter. It will not be a surprise if that on-air team landed some top-notch assignments in its inaugural season together.

n It’s hard to believe someone who enjoyed having his name in the media so much and was supposedly a smart man parlayed a media misstep into early retirement. Ohio State President Gordon Gee announced his retirement last week, which was prompted by the reaction to his jeers and putdowns of Notre Dame and the Southeastern Conference. His comments were made to Ohio State alumni in December and only recently became public, but he has to be smart enough to know that he’s always “on the record” in his role.

n The NFL made some significant changes in recent weeks. First, the league announced the NFL Draft would move from April to May next year, giving the league a presence in another month of the calendar year so it can garner ad dollars and ratings year round. In addition, the league has hinted at changes to the Pro Bowl, making the game even more of an exhibition – and maybe even adding some game-show aspects or a skills challenge instead of actual football. Ironically, though, the event in its current state already outdraws the ratings of every other league’s all-star event. It might be a little risky to work with something that is, on some levels, working.

Steve Sampsell covers the broadcast side of sports for the Mirror. He can be reached at