Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

ESPN turns its 30 for 30 focus on Cleveland sports fans

ESPN-30-for-30ESPN has decided that Cleveland sports are ready for a closeup with the announcement that the network is making a 30 for 30 film about Cleveland sports fans.

Well this is certainly going to be fun.

All kidding aside, this has the potential to be interesting – we can’t really say entertaining, now can we? – and there is little doubt it will be well produced. We haven’t watched all of the films so far in the series, some of the subject matter just wasn’t that interesting, but the ones we have seen have all been very well done. According to ESPN’s website, the documentary series is “similar to feature-length films in that each piece represents a specific point of view of the filmmaker and is a reflection of how they blend the narrative with their own visual style.”

And according to this article in Crain’s Cleveland Business, Akron native Kristopher Belman will direct the documentary. Local fans should know Belman’s work, as he directed the 2009 documentary More Than a Game. The documentary will be produced by Triple Threat TV, which has worked with ESPN films on Catching Hell, The Real Rocky and Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?.

So far, so good.

It’s not that easy, however. (Of course, if it was easy it wouldn’t be Cleveland sports, now would it?)

These two sentences from the Crain’s article stopped us short:

A crew for the documentary is in town and will be filming during The Really Big Show on WKNR-AM, 850, this morning. A news release from ESPN Cleveland says the TV cameras will be on hosts Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer during their … show today. Fans who call, text, e-mail or tweet the show might also have their Really Big Show contribution included in the 30 for 30 episode.

Seriously? They are really going down the road of talk radio to find Cleveland sports fans?

Oh, the pain.

We could see how that would have been a good idea in 1975, when the only avenue for sports fans to be heard was to call Pete Franklin’s nightly Sportsline show. But this is 2013 and everyone knows that smart Cleveland sports fans don’t call radio talk shows.

Instead they take to the Internet, creating blogs and podcasts where they share their passion and knowledge about Cleveland sports. That is where you find lively and, most importantly, intelligent debate about the current state of the Indians starting rotation, what the Cavs need to do in their ongoing rebuilding process and whether or not the Browns finally are getting it right.

And it is where you don’t find, for the most part, people screaming over each other, hosts acting like circus clowns, or people engaging in inane conversations.

We will hold out hope that the talk radio portion will just be a small part of the documentary. After all, while this is an ESPN production, we  get the sense that the decision makers back in Bristol do not force a particular narrative on the director, so the overall product should be just fine.

But if Belman and his crew need any ideas of where to find true Cleveland sports fans, all they have to do is ask. We would be more than happy to help them find their way.

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2 thoughts on “ESPN turns its 30 for 30 focus on Cleveland sports fans

  1. it’s lazy and inexcusable to use talk radio hosts or dial-ins as representative of… anything. and not that it matters, but if it’s got goldhammer anywhere in the film, i’ll probably just pass.

  2. tmoore94 on said:

    I get the whole synergy thing; it’s an ESPN film and there is an ESPN radio station in Cleveland so that feel like they have to get the brand on camera. But like you say it’s lazy to the point of being a cliche.

    Hopefully if they use anything from the film session it is just a very small sampling of what goes on in a normal day and I’m worrying about nothing. But if this is the major source of their info for the film it is going to be beyond embarrassing.

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