TIME: US | UK
WEATHER: US | UK
THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE ONLINE
Features & Blogs
"Life in the UK"
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale
The absence of meaningful gridiron usually has me turning to other sports from March to August (and with apologies to CFL and AFL fans, NASN's gridiron coverage outside of college months doesn't give me the kind of immersion I crave). Inevitably my Spring substitute is basketball, not just March Madness — which was more 'meh' than 'mad' this year thanks to an all–No.1 final four — but the British Basketball League.
Yes, I'm banging the BBL drum again. I realize it isn't the NBA, and neither is it the NCAA, but it's as much of a fun evening or afternoon as the Brits have ever managed while emulating a US–associated sport. The product is family–oriented, affordable, and very accessible, with home–town players usually hanging around long after the game to chat and sign with the fans.
And now, the BBL is televisual too. With Mrs Football now so advanced in pregnancy that she's in danger of generating her own gravitational field (and yes, I do suffer for my turns of phrase), we haven't been traveling too far from our home deep in the English countryside, so Setanta Sports have been supplying our weekly BBL fix. This past week we thoroughly enjoyed watching the Guildford Heat and Worcester Wolves go at it. It was hardly a nail–biter, 106–79 to the Heat, but Guildford's three–point feast was the kind of one–sided entertainment you can still enjoy when a team are simply playing hot.
At this point I apologize to anybody growing suspicious of my journalistic neutrality. Guildford Heat are simply a joy to cover. The organization is as media–friendly as they are family friendly, in no small part to having a coach such as Paul James, who impresses me every time I speak with him or hear him coach. It also helps that the Heat are vaguely in my own region of the country — were I in the North East, for example, I might be glowing about the equally professional and consequently successful Newcastle Eagles.
I'm becoming equally impressed with Setanta's TV's BBL show. They may not be one of the most famous names in broadcasting — and that may change — but their live coverage of the Heat and Wolves was a gem of a show. The cameraperson stayed with the ball, the superbly sharp replays only missed a couple of moments, and the commentary team both before and after the game were informed and perceptive, and no, I'm not getting paid to say this, it's just so VERY refreshing to see a 'domestic' league covered so well. I hope Setanta are getting the ratings they deserve for such a neat little show.
There was a decent stretch of time after the game for interviews with players, and during time outs the camera joined the huddle to hear what the coaches were saying. Sitting on our own sofa recognizing half of The Spectrum crowd in the cut–away shots, the Setanta coverage of the Guildford game made us feel we'd hardly missed out at all. It managed that rare televisual feat of conveying the home court atmosphere.
Tonight (Wednesday April 16), two of the best match up as the Milton Keynes Lions visit the Plymouth Raiders (live on Setanta 2, 7.30pm). It isn't exactly the NBA playoffs, but if your don't have the time (or the time–shifted lifestyle) for endless early–hours coverage, the BBL on Setanta is an engaging mid–week diversion at a sensible hour.
The other big TV/Sports announcement of the past few weeks was that Formula One auto racing would return to the BBC after its decade long sojourn on ITV.
I can remember a certain amount of trepidation when the sport first moved to the commercial channel — would they stick an advert in just when it got to the good bit? In the end, viewers were rewarded with three layers of presenters — studio, pit lane interviewers and commentary team — where the BBC had offered only a two–man commentary. ITV even adopted the BBC's former commentary team of Martin Brundle and the legendary Murray Walker (since retired). Now the BBC has the daunting task of matching the new standard.
None the less, I welcome F1 back on the BBC. With most sports coverage now tucked out of the way on subscription channels (no wonder the nation's getting obese), it's good to see more sport creeping back onto the 'Beeb', as with this past weekend's Masters coverage. No matter whether we still have to watch ex–soccer star Gary Lineker incongruously anchoring Formula One as well as golf, at least the BBC can stop trying to fill the 'competitive events' gap with celebrity dancing.