Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bottom Line

Last Saturday I watched some television. Like most Saturdays, I took in a little college football before it grew stale, and proceeded to flip around. I settled on some reruns of "American Gladiators" on ESPN Classic.

I tried to focus on the challengers' efforts to breakthrough and conquer the gladiators, but my eye was drawn away from the athletic feats, toward the bottom of the screen, where college football scores scrolled on ESPN's "Bottom Line".

The Bottom Line used to be present only on ESPN2. It was a handy tool to have available in the burgeoning internet age, a device you could count on when you desperately needed a score update. Over time, it became more prevalent. First, it was added to Sportscenter. Then, it was added to all ESPN programming. When Disney bought ABC, ESPN and ABC's pooled their sports broadcasting efforts, and the Bottom Line came along for the ride.

I don't enjoy the Bottom Line. I see it as an unnecessary distraction from the game I'm trying to watch. I also see it as a covert attempt to make me work -- I'm reading and calculating spreads instead of doing absolutely nothing. Still, I do see how some college football fans prefer to be constantly updated while they watch the big game.

I do not, however, see why a channel devoted to the past would bother its viewers with up-to-the-minute scoreboard notifications. Take it from me, ESPN Classic -- if I'm watching a former high school football star aim a crossbow above a 'roided male named Turbo, I don't need a flashing alert to tell me that Wake Forest just kicked a field goal.

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