Jordan Bean | Sacked
Paid to be wrong
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 02:10
Let’s start this column with a short quiz. Have you ever played a professional sport? Have you worked in a front office? Have you coached? Have you been involved in a sport? Have you written about a sport? Do you have an opinion about a sport? Are you even remotely interested in a sport?
If the answer was yes to any of those questions, well congratulations, you’re now qualified to be an analyst. In the era of 24/7 sports coverage, the phrase “quantity over quality” aptly depicts this situation. With NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, SEC, PAC-12, several ESPN and so many more networks dedicated solely to sports, the market is ripe for people with an opinion.
However, this by no means indicates that all these people are qualified to be in these positions. An analyst should be, as my dad used to encourage me to be, a “student of the game.” It should be people who have been in the film room breaking down the plays and understand the “why” and “how” of the game. Don’t just tell me what a player did, but why did he do it? Why did the pitcher throw a curveball on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded? How did the quarterback find the open man despite the fact that the receiver looked covered?
When I was younger, I was by no means the fastest player on the baseball field.
Nevertheless, I was taught by people much smarter than me how to run the bases so that I could maximize my (lack) of speed for the most benefit to the team. There are players and coaches out there who know these little tricks, plays and behind-the-scenes efforts that make the athletes special, and that’s who I want to see on my TV.
One of the issues is that there is no accountability for an analyst. Want the Jacksonville Jaguars to be your upset pick for the Super Bowl? Sure! Why not? If it doesn’t happen, they can pass it off as being an upset pick. If it does, they look like the hero who predicted the impossible.
Then there are the moments that an analyst is so wrong but can’t even admit it. What about the time in 2011 when ESPN College Basketball analyst Jay Bilas called the selection of VCU into the field of 64 “indefensible”? That’s right, the same VCU team that went on to make it all the way to the Final Four before losing to the eventual runner-up Butler. Bilas followed up by assuring us that, despite their success, it “does not make [his] argument wrong.” Of course it doesn’t, because he’s an analyst so he can’t be wrong.
The worst of them all are the second-guessing postgame analysts. You think the team shouldn’t have gone for it on fourth down? Well isn’t that easy to scrutinize from behind the television screen after the team didn’t convert.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and the ability to second-guess a coach is far too easy and frankly not something that I’m interested in hearing. I can see clearly that the team did not get its desired outcome, but explain what the coach had to take into account beforehand and what options he was weighing in his head.
Anyone can be an analyst after the game, but I want someone who can give me the real keys to a game beforehand — not just saying things like, “The team who scores the most will win,” or “Team X really needs to get its running game going today.”
The influx of ways to access sports has watered down the analyst pool, but quality analysts can still be found. But until there’s more on my TV, analysts — you’re sacked!
Jordan Bean is a sophomore who has yet to declare a major. He can be reached at Jordan.Bean@tufts.edu.