Halftime show becomes “Weakest Link”

Emily Arthur

Sitting down to watch this year’s NBA finals coverage, I noticed something a little different.

Instead of seeing half-time footage of an Allen Iverson jump shot or yet another one of Shaq’s dunks, I was greeted by an annoying woman with red hair.

Turns out she’s a host from a new television show that I evidentally haven’t been watching.

Why I was seeing that woman is what was interesting to me.

In a ploy to get higher television ratings, NBC has decided to broadcast acts such as U2 and the network’s new quiz show, “The Weakest Link” during halftime of each basketball game.

Television viewership has increased by nearly 15-20 percent over games one, two and three of the series, causing executives from NBC to rave about their new plan to “entertain the world.”

What those same execs don’t realize is that their new “Super Bowl format” is taking away from the game of basketball.

First of all, there’s nothing to prove that the new format has anything to do with the increase in viewers.

While ratings dropped during the regular season this year, interest in basketball has remained constant with more fans becoming knowledgeable about the game of basketball.

Anytime three of the best players in the game are on the same court, as it is the case in this year’s finals, the ratings are going to increase.

The Lakers and 76ers are two highly followed teams and it helps that they have players such as Iverson, Kobe Bryant and Shaq leading the way.

Both teams have seen their share of controversy, whether it be Kobe vs Shaq or Iverson vs Sixers coach, Larry Brown, and both have overcome the obstacles to reach the finals.

Just look at Iverson’s story.

Star player is uncontrollable, impossible to work with and is a distraction to his team on and off the court.

Along comes veteran coach.

Coach and player clash time after time and player is threatened with a trade.

Player wakes up and realizes coach is looking out for his and the team’s best interest.

Player changes his ways and is recognized as team captain.

Coach and player profess their love and respect for one another and are now playing in the NBA finals.

Not exactly storybook but still riveting in the least.

Stories like the drama between Iverson and Brown have alienated some fans but have brought even more into the world of NBA basketball.

Fans are hooked on controversy and the media continues to report it, which in the end only adds to the allure of the NBA.

The new halftime format isn’t what’s responsible for the increase of fans. People are tuning in for the high-level basketball and the stories associated with its stars.

Now, I was never a big fan of NBC’s version of half-time analysis. More times than not, I’d turn on the radio to listen to ESPN Radio instead of listening to the regular halftime analysis of four guys who usually don’t know what they’re talking about.

But when it comes down to it, scary lady Anne Robinson telling people “good-bye” on “The Weakest Link” is definitely worse. That lady scares me more than Shaq shooting free throws with the game on the line and when choosing between her and biased sports announcers, the choice is an easy one.

I would have much rather suffered through Bill Walton’s halftime analysis on Sunday night instead of seeing him suffer through trying to convince America that he’s an intelligent guy on the special sports edition of “The Weakest Link.”

Just a side-note Bill: Yankee Stadium was not the stadium that was struck by an earthquake in the middle of a series.

Although definitely not a fan, I’ll take the annoying man with red hair over the annoying woman with red hair any day.

The analysis at halftime might not have always been good, but it was always part of basketball no less.

If Iverson has hit his last eight shots, I want to hear about it. Or if Kobe needs to take the ball to the hoop more as opposed to shooting jump shots, Walton and the boys will tell me at halftime.

Playing into the “Super Bowl concept” in which half-time turns into a huge show is not what the game needs.

Basketball will support itself if given a sufficient chance. Players like Iverson and Bryant are willing to make things interesting. Why not let the half-time of a basketball game actually be about basketball instead of showing a rip-off of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

The word “play-off” will be taking on a whole different meaning come tomorrow night.

While some will be pushing “play” on their VCRs in an effort to record Destiny’s Child during the halftime production, I’ll be doing one thing, pushing “off..”

Emily Arthur is a junior in journalism and mass communications from Clark, S.D. She is the sports editor of the Daily.