Phil Mushnick

Phil Mushnick

Sports Entertainment

CBS’s Super Bowl 2024 broadcast needs to meet fans halfway

Advance to the rear!

Back before television was overly medicated with the excesses of technological achievement, it was never a worry. TV would make good on its goal to provide “the best seat in the house.”

Now that’s more of an oddity than an expectation.

My strongest hope for genuine football fans Sunday is that CBS meets us halfway. Play around all it wishes with whatever, post all the misleading stat graphics it can muster, but pay attention to game circumstances.

Super Bowls have become known for muted crowds, as teams’ regular customers have largely been supplanted by those with team and NFL corporate connections, indiscriminately wealthy make-the-scene types and those who know a guy who knows a guy who can get tickets.

I once pressed every button to buy two tickets at face price for the son of a good friend. It was Super Bowl XXIX, in Miami on Jan. 29, 1995. My one request was that he send me the ticket stubs (to prove he attended the game rather than scalp them). In the end, he said he lost the stubs.

CBS Sports play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz (left), analyst Tony Romo (center) and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Anyway, with reduced in-house fan support a feature of Super Bowls, there are fewer nuts in the stands for CBS to focus on. And despite knowing a smaller share of actual football fans are in the viewing audience for this most important of football games, wouldn’t it be nice if we did get to see the important parts of this important game? Thus a modest request:

Consider the game’s immediate situations before taking us on a journey into the stands, the coaching booths, the broadcast booths and celebrity kissing booths. On third down and fourth-and-going-for-it, stay on the field, for Pete Gogolak’s sake! Let us see who’s in the game and how they’re lined up on both sides before the snap.

Why force us to guess?

Though that may be too much to ask, one more: Use your replay and slow-motion devices to show football being played as opposed to the tired post-play sight of players showing off as the essence of football.

Unless modesty is no longer a virtue, cut us a break.

Better yet, CBS, at its first chance, should run video of the 2020 Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl. Up, 20-10, the Niners defense gathered in the end zone after an interception to “pose” for a “photo” celebrating themselves and their soon-to-come championship while risking a delay of game or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Soon it became a colossal oops, as the Chiefs won, 31-20. And what did pandering TV voices, coaches and players learn from that? Not a blessed thing.

Travis Kelce and the Chiefs will be looking to win their second straight Super Bowl. Getty Images

But that TV so intentionally pays as much attention to acts of self-glorification as it does to the playing of football has become a primary come-on to watch football, Super Bowl included. Pathetic? Senseless? Backward? Sure. But that’s the bag we’re in.

NFL perilously paddles up ‘stream’

What happens after our sports leagues and partner TV networks finish reinventing the flat tire?

Last week came word that a confederation including Disney/ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery had formed to launch a post-cable/cable-like sports events streaming service.

In other words, those at the wheel will increase their bet that sports fans are to be taken for granted as they have no limits to how they spend their money in order to watch games.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Christopher Trim/CSM/Shutterstock

Last month what the NFL Treasurer Goodell framed as a triumph — a “record breaking” mass approval of playoff football seen almost exclusively on NBC’s Peacock streaming operation — became a self-serving matter of application.

Consider that there was no previous big-attraction sports event streaming record to break. NBC boasted that 23 million watched the attractive Saturday night Dolphins-Chiefs playoff game, most of them on Peacock. Yet according to NBC, the next day’s lesser attraction Rams-Lions on NBC drew 38 million viewers.

So on a nationally cold, stay-in Saturday night, the NFL sacrificed at least 15 million viewers — and very likely many more — by hiding the game behind a paywall, after every NBC TV properties shamelessly spent the week banging the Peacock drums as if this be a greater event than the first lunar landing.

Now what did those who normally would’ve watched, but chose no to, take away from that game?

Did they say to themselves, “Damn! I’ll never do that again! From now on I’ll pay the freight”?

Or did they say to themselves, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad. I’m glad I wasn’t party to that smug greed”?

And having taught at least 15 million to live without watching an NFL playoff game between high-powered offensive teams, why would multiple networks plan to join as one to go even deeper into fans’ pockets to view lesser games?

Despite the claims of Emperor Nero — aka Roger Goodell — no good business intentionally does dirt to its most devoted customers. The expressed idea that streaming will attract new and younger audiences, especially those who don’t bite or can no longer afford to take leagues’ bait to lose their money betting on games, makes for wishful but highly impractical business.


Given that Fox bad-guess artist Colin Cowherd is seldom correct or just fabricates facts, his appearance in promos selling the new United Football League chirping, “Spring football is here to stay!” is an RIP for the UFL.

SI choices aided in its demise

Though most print enterprises are headed for a sad end, the death of Sports Illustrated, once a must-read for the thoughtful, was to some degree self-inflicted.

This column in recent years has heard from many former SI subscribers who grew disgusted with SI’s pandering to those who are antithetical to sports.

That SI chose the petulant, habitually unsportsmanlike and often downright rude Serena Williams as its “Sportsperson of the Year” was, even by modern diminished standards, flabbergasting.

Serena Williams at the Grammys. Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Then to name flim-flam artist, braggart, self-declared Agent of God and stomach-turning exploiter of kids (see: the defunct Prime Academy school for mostly poor high school-age athletes, then his mass “get lost” issued to Colorado players he hadn’t recruited), the selection of Deion Sanders as “Sportsperson of the Year” turned off even more subscribers.

SI, like Bud Light, had dismissed its best customers as unrestricted fools.

I just don’t get it: Why does the NFL, with its own serious internal crime problems, continue to choose misogynistic, gun-loving, cop-hating, N-word-spewing, rap-sheet rappers as its star attractions?

Deion Sanders has been making the rounds during the leadup to the Super Bowl. Getty Images for SiriusXM

Same goes for Mayor Adams. And President Obama — who, while in office, embraced popular N-word-chanting rappers who degraded women as “bitches,” “ho’s” and wham-bam sex discards — though he had two young daughters.

The promotion, sale and indulgence of wrong over right has no upside for anyone of any race.


Women’s College Basketball Games of the Week: Arkansas State defeated Old Dominion, 76-63. The round-trip between ODU and Ark St. is nearly 2,000 miles, but there’s always money for college sports. At least for now. Gonzaga, shooting 35 3-pointers, squeezed past Pacific, 104-39.

That the final 32 seconds of last week’s Missouri-Vanderbilt, seen on ESPN’s SEC Network, took seven minutes to complete is no longer unusual. What was unusual is that neither team had a remaining timeout. Intentional fouls and courtside replay reviews did the trick.


My pick for Sunday? Well, Mike Francesa last week seemed to be leaning toward the Chiefs, a great harbinger for the Niners.

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