Monday, January 23, 2006

Ticker Time

Because I have been watching ESPN2 a little more consistently in the past week due to the network's coverage of the Australian Open, I have had the chance to get a closer look at the network's practices--including the ticker tape that runs scores on the bottom of the screen almost continuously. Now I have, of course, seen the running scores before, but I have been noticing the extensive coverage of college men's basketball. First, it always seems as if there are far more posted scores for men's basketball than women's basketball. And second there are colleges I have never heard of whose scores are being listed. Clearly these are smaller programs yet they get ticker time. What is the ESPN2 (and presumably ESPN the first) rationale for this? We get scores of men's teams that have little chance of making news come March yet we never get scores from other collegiate sports like hockey--men's or women's. I thought last year's NHL strike would generate more excitement for college hockey outside the northeast and upper midwest regions in which it is popular but if the ESPN2 ticker tape is any indicator, this has not happened. But is the ticker tape an indicator? The other day I saw bowling results--bowling! According to cultural critic, Robert Putnam, bowling is over--ok he was speaking more metaphorically than literally. But bowling still gets ticker time.
I would be interested to know how women's collegiate basketball got ticker time. Did it become more popular and ESPN was forced to add it to the cycle or did they add it to the cycle and interest grew because of the visibility? And how this history might help figure out how to get more comprehensive (as comprehensive as the ticker tape scores can be I guess) coverage of women's sports on the ticker tape.

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