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Richard Deitsch
August 05, 2002
Bad Ad, Dangerous Dunks, Pat's New Partner
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August 05, 2002

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Bad Ad, Dangerous Dunks, Pat's New Partner

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? ESPN's "This Is SportsCenter" ad campaign, the seven-year-old series of tongue-in-cheek commercials in which athletes interact with ESPN on-air personalities at the network's headquarters in Bristol, Conn., rarely misses the mark. That's what makes the latest installment all the more disturbing. It features a pack of unruly fans (from Bristol, England, we're told) breaking a bottle over the head of one of the ESPN anchors and ransacking a car in the parking lot while frantic riot police sprint through the hallways. Not only does the spot stereotype English soccer fans, but it also minimizes the hooligan violence that has resulted in countless injuries and deaths at soccer matches. Since when is hooliganism funny? ESPN should pull the spot immediately.

?If across between the XFL and the NBA Slam Dunk contest sounds like exciting TV, check out the debut of Slamball on Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. on TNN. While sports purists may dismiss Slamball—a no-holds-barred, dunk-heavy, four-on-four basketball game played on a court that's dotted with trampolines—there's something strangely compelling about the over-the-top, video-game-style action.

?Former offensive lineman Brian Baldinger, one of Fox's more astute NFL analysts, will join Pat Summerall (yes, he's coming back) in the broadcasting booth for 2002. The duo will work a full season, with an emphasis on Cowboys games in deference to the 72-year-old Summerall, who lives in Texas. Says Baldinger, 42, "People have said, 'I thought Pat was retired.' Well, he isn't. The next question is, 'Who's the guy broadcasting with him?' I'm all right with that. There's only one John Madden."