Erin Andrews on the Necessity of Sideline Reporters
By: The Football Girl | Posted: July 03, 2012
The departure of Erin Andrews from ESPN to FOX brings up a lot of questions, but none as universal as the oft-debated necessity of sideline reporters.
Andrews, appearing on The Dan Patrick Show this morning (a mandatory first stop for talent departing Bristol), was asked this very question. Or as Patrick so leadingly put it, “Be honest, do we really need sideline reporters?”
Andrews replied, “Yes, absolutely. We don’t need sideline reporters in terms of the fluffy stories that you can read in the newspaper and that you’ve read on Wednesday and it’s being reported on Saturday or Sunday. But absolutely. “
She then went on to clarify why sideline reporters are useful with this anecdote from 2007:
“I would bring up Dennis Dixon when he was in the running for the Heisman Trophy with the Oregon Ducks. We knew very well ahead of time that he was still hurt. They were saying he was fine. [Oregon head coach]Mike Bellotti said he was fine,” Andrews said. “The kid lost the Heisman and Oregon lost the chance to go to the National Championship that night. He got hurt. He fell. The trainers were saying he was fine. The guys in the booth are watching and calling the game. Well, I started watching the trainer. The trainer is crying as he’s working on Dennis Dixon. I’m able to run and get the father, talk to the trainer. I think we are important if you can get the kind of stuff the guys in the booth are unable to get to.”
Andrews, referring to Oregon’s 34-24 loss to Arizona, makes two very good points. Generally speaking, fans don’t like fluff. And if they do, they don’t need to get their human-interest stories from a sideline reporters. There is an army of producers and researchers that get paid to provide the guys in the booth with these kinds of factoids.
But Andrews’ Dixon story is the absolute best argument for the validity of sideline reporters – it’s all about the injuries. From a fan, fantasy and emotional perspective, the unfolding of an injury, especially to a high profile player, is tantamount to almost anything in the broadcast. If sideline reporters can read the body language of trainers or know how to decipher team spin, that’s a win for the viewer.
The problem is a guy like Tony Siragusa exists, who is big on personality (and appetite, and gibberish) but not exactly providing much perspective, let alone injury savvy, to the broadcast.
Networks seem to struggle with who to cast in the sideline reporter role. Do they go a) the former athlete route (Siragusa, Eric Dickerson) b) the hottie route (Andrews, Samantha Steele) or c) the actual reporter route (Lisa Salters, Andrea Kramer, Michele Tafoya)?
Until we see more of c) or at least the unique combination of b) and c) like Andrews, the profession will largely continue to be more useful to salacious blogs than pure football fans.