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Scott D. Pierce: Don't these people know they're on TV?

Published December 18, 2012 5:52 pm

Sports on TV • Television could be a deterrent, if only athletes, analysts notice the cameras.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Did you see the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday? When a 13-9 nail-biter turned into a 41-15 rout in a matter of minutes?

Three USU touchdowns in 3:16. A total of five TDs in 5:46. It was astonishing.

But not the most astonishing thing on TV, unfortunately. Bad behavior abounded — behavior that was that much more inexplicable because it was in full view of cameras.

• On ESPN2's "First Take," Rob Parker called into question the blackness of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in comments that included: "Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?"

Parker had to see the big camera pointed at him. And he said this anyway?

ESPN suspended him.

• ESPN telecast the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday. It used a whole bunch of cameras and not only captured Arizona's exciting comeback win over Nevada, but also the fight on the Wildcats' sideline. Arizona players Tevin Hood and Cody Ippolito were seen throwing punches at each other. They were tossed out by the Arizona coaches, and the video of the two of them fighting has been played endlessly.

They did know the game was televised, right?

• The Dallas Cowboys made the curious decision to allow Josh Brent on the sidelines of their game against the Steelers on Sunday. Brent faces intoxication manslaughter charges in the death of teammate Jerry Brown.

The Cowboys had to know CBS cameras were going to catch Brent on the sidelines, right? And they can't be surprised that CBS' Boomer Esiason called it "disgraceful"; he and Bill Cowher both called it "insensitive."

The Cowboys defended their actions by arguing that Brown's mother has expressed support for Brent. But a league as image-conscious as the NFL couldn't have been happy to see a convicted drunken driver who's been charged with a drunk-driving death on display.

Maybe Dallas didn't think CBS would recognize Brent.

All these people realize we live in an age when bad behavior ends up on camera, right? Sports shows live for this kind of thing.

Women's college soccer doesn't normally make "SportsCenter," except when New Mexico's Elizabeth Lambert was caught on camera hair-pulling a BYU player to the ground three years ago.

And you don't have to be part of a televised game to end up on TV and the Internet. Like Lambert, East High soccer player Petiola Manu became a video pariah for viciously kneeing an opponent in the head — an incident caught on amateur video and replayed on TV and online.

Television has long been accused of promoting showboating and hotdogging at the expense of the games. And there's a case to be made that that is, unfortunately, true.

But you can also argue that TV could be a moderating influence. That bad behavior might be less likely if athletes, coaches and teams know they could be caught in the act.

Maybe. Although after-the-fact TV reviews that have resulted in punishment for Major League Soccer players who dive haven't exactly eliminated diving from the sport.

Maybe those players forget they're on TV, too.

These days, pretty much everybody seems to have a camera. And pretty much anybody's bad behavior can end up on TV.

Is that so hard to remember?

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter: @ScottDPierce.