As a fan of sports, I’m prone to watching highlight shows. There’s SportsCenter on ESPN or MLB Tonight on the MLB Network; just two to mention, there are many more. The concept has long been a smart, effective way to disseminate in-game action to fans without them having to DVR 47 hours of action every day to try to keep up on. It’s an impossible task, so the highlight shows have distilled all that action down into a palatable, succinct hour (or more, potentially) to keep us up to speed.
There’s one problem that has been gnawing at me for quite some time, however. Why do highlights have to be accompanied by Sports Rock? What was the evolutionary process that led to this point where we are watching touchdowns and home runs and slam dunks all with an incessant soundtrack?
Who thought that we, the viewing public, needed a hype track to keep us glued to the highlights? If we’re already interested in sports and we already want to watch the highlights, then why do we need to be amped up by cookie-cutter Jock Rock?!?
Now, programming intro music is not problematic here. John Tesh’s theme for the NBA Playoffs is a memorable, slightly corny bell for the Pavlov’s Dog in almost every basketball fan that watched the playoffs through the late 80’s and into the 90’s. It may even still be in use, I wouldn’t know, as I stopped watching professional hoops after my Sonics were torn away from me. But that intro theme served to get us focused, there’s basketball about to be played!
So, is that where this all started?
Nowadays, you can’t watch a game recap and highlights without relentless riffing guitars in the background. I understand we live in the age of constant and layered noise, but why is this deemed necessary? The cacophony of life, surrounding us, engulfing us, invading us at every turn is oppressive. Why do we need to actively choose to be in this state? It’s a huge turn-off. It makes me not even want to watch the highlights.
Particularly as a baseball fanatic, this barrage of added, unnecessary noise seems counterintuitive to the aesthetic of the game itself and how we view and enjoy it.
I know what you’re thinking, this motherfucker is one of those “purists” who clutches to the notion of “the integrity of the game.” That couldn’t be further from the truth, with the one massive exception that the sounds of the game, the crowd, and the announcer are all I see as needed as far as the sense of hearing goes to enjoy the game. Now, I’m certainly talking about attending a game and being bludgeoned over the head with at-bat music, between inning jumbotron games and trivia accompanied by a perfunctory rock concert. Yes, that drives me absolutely batshit crazy. But I have been training myself to ignore that as much as I can. The highlight shows, on the other hand, seem to be an exercise in the impossibility of escape.
So, I would like to encourage ESPN and MLB Network to try out the occasional highlight show sans the MTV vibe. I really don’t think Jock Rock is what gets people to watch these highlight shows anyways. Maybe focus on the plays and analysis and in educating the fanbase even further.