Never before have football fans been so united and galvanised on one issue; Channel Seven’s football coverage is downright pathetic.
The Age journalist Rohan Connolly covered this in May, and the sheer number of responses from people, regardless of football team, race, colour, creed and bank account, certainly rammed home the point that Seven are failing to scrape together the bare minimum for an acceptable broadcast.
Even though one journalist comes out to constructively criticise another network, the public don’t see it as ‘pot shotting’ the competition. It’s taken as a gospel nowadays, that Seven have no idea what they are doing.
It is actively mindboggling how such a high-cost production is neither aesthetically pleasing nor able to do the bare minimum for a sporting telecast.
The camera work isn’t only bizarre, but shambolic. Zooming into members of the crowd or coaches mouthing off at the umpires interests absolutely no one and should be time spent covering the play instead. The number of times the coverage has cut to replays of incidences neither relevant nor interesting is too much to count.
Replaying a breathtaking part of play from a camera on the other side of the ground or from the helicopter above the ground is so unnecessary. It really makes one ponder whether they’re either too wooden to order around a team of cameramen, or too self-indulgently interested failing to creating a spectacle, like deciding to blow production costs on getting a helicopter to sit above the ground on game day.
With the introduction of the goal line video replay, they continue to baffle and confuse everyone by putting cameras in positions that wouldn’t get a 747 airliner crashing into the Great Southern Stand into picture, let alone a ball going through for a score.
The catastrophic and downright disgraceful commentary team only inflames that the issue runs deeper, suggesting the team they put together is just as useless as those running the show.
Brian Taylor’s inane catchcries (not catchphrases, because that plays to the assumption that he is speaking the King’s English) turn him into Flavor Flav’s moronic younger brother, who neglects calling the game to sound out vowels and consonants for his own amusement.
Dennis Cometti and Bruce McAvaney were once revered telecasters and commentators. There was no sport they couldn’t cover, but are now reserved to dropping the same one-liners over and over again.
Basil Zempilas and Hamish McLaughlin’s dropping of pop culture references and the use of jokes at each other’s expense only extends the self-fondling fest to new heights. Both seem to be the product of little criticism, allowed to wander off into territory sports presenters at professional organisations would be fired for being in.
A sports presenter should only do these basics: name the players, explain the umpiring decisions and comment only during natural breaks in play. Anything more is overkill, anything less is failing to do your part. Seven’s team somehow manage to go overboard with neglecting the basics entirely.
Recent ex-footballers in special comments and analyst roles are tricky. Some slide in seamlessly (Wayne Carey, Matthew Lloyd), and then others fail to adapt by lacking the charisma required to convey the message.
Luke Darcy and Matthew Richardson are too blunt and dull for television, (most people are, there’s no shame at all in this fact), but also fail to have any substance to their analysis other than well-worn clichés.
David King or Brad Johnson on Fox Sports may not be showmen in any sense of the word, but gladly bring along a wealth of knowledge and present their findings in a manner which appeals to the hardcore football fan.
Moving on to the extras, also known as the most utterly pointless and rage-inducing parts of the coverage.
The use of Twitter and Fango in the coverage is sycophantic, used as an excuse to pander products or exacerbate the already gluttonous and vain, back and forth exchanges of nothingness between the hosts.
Rachel Finch’s shoed in parts of the pre-game coverage on players’ girlfriends and wives are distasteful and are beyond unnecessary. Not only do the questions subtly suggest that these women are nothing without their famous partners, but penetrates the wall of privacy players have every right to put up. This segment has a more female-oriented audience, which makes it all the worse.
It’s hard to figure out which is more offensive in general; that Seven believe that the only way women could be interested in football is by getting a tour of players’ homes by their spouses, or the occurrences of what goes on inside the privacy of a footballer’s home is deemed as worthy content.
Luke Hodge in a V8 supercar and Dancing with the Stars judge interviews are network cross-promotions at their most shameless and are a pet hate of most viewers.
The end product seems as if Seven’s production meetings take on board every vacant and half-baked idea uttered by a half-awake crew on a Monday morning, to then jam them all into the one telecast.
If one moment crystallises the clumsy and overambitious coverage that has been relayed on TV screens across the country, it’s Brett Kirk’s awkwardly-impassioned speech.
Even after the numerous uproars, nothing has been done.
This may be is the cruelest part of the story so far, that Seven are completely unaware of their failure.