February 15, 2011
From the emergence of high definition TVs, to the advent of the yellow first-down line, to the popularity of streaming Internet video, there have been numerous innovations the past two decades that altered the way we watched sports.
Don't expect ESPN's overhead cam to join that illustrious list anytime soon.
Instead of showing Tuesday's Kentucky-Mississippi State game from a typical sideline view, the World Wide Leader mounted cameras on a speaker high above the court at Rupp Arena and used that overhead shot as the primary camera angle. It was irritating. It was disorienting. It was the camera angle equivalent to FOX's red comet tail puck from its mid '90s NHL coverage.
The overhead angle was one of several innovations ESPN has tested out during college basketball coverage this week. The network also had separate cameras on Kansas State coach Frank Martin and Kansas' Bill Self on Monday night and mic'd up referee Jim Burr during Tuesday's Ohio State-Michigan State matchup.
Maybe the only good thing about the overhead camera angle was that it immediately became quality comedy fodder. Everyone from coaches to reporters to fans weighed in via Twitter, a sampling of which you'll find below.
• Lexington Herald reporter John Clay: "When TV can give you the best seat in the house, why would it give you the worst seat in the house?"
• Xavier coach Chris Mack: "ESPN, please make it stop! This is going to give people vertigo ..."
• Kentucky Sports Radio blogger Thomas Beisner: "Renardo Sidney ate the other camera angles."
Perhaps ESPN read some of the instant feedback because the overhead shot became more of a secondary camera angle in the second half, used mostly to illustrate a point during replays.
In spite of the adjustment, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart made it clear to ESPN that this will be the last time the overhead camera angle will be used for a Kentucky game.
"We have expressed the concerns with the new overhead camera use at future games & will no longer approve the camera location in the future," he tweeted Wednesday.