Appearing in beer commercial impairs Patrick's credibility

Media Watch

July 20, 1999|By Milton Kent

Historically, alcohol and sports have gone together like a hand in a baseball mitt, though it has only been in the past couple of decades or so that we've taken note of the too-frequent casualties of the blend.

Even with our heightened sensitivities, beer companies still have a hold on our sports culture, either through the direct route of sponsorship or more covertly.

The most recent subtle approach comes through a new series of Coors ads featuring recently retired Denver quarterback John Elway and ESPN anchor Dan Patrick.

In the spots, Patrick walks through a stadium and rattles off a spiel about Elway, followed by an unseen voice, then the former Bronco himself extolling the virtues of the beer.

Patrick's presence in the commercials is doubly troubling. First, as a journalist, he compromises his integrity by endorsing a product of any sort, even as nominally as he does in the spots, where he doesn't hold the beer, nor does he say the Coors name.

In one sense, Patrick doesn't cross the line as egregiously as Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly, who shilled for Miller Lite in an ad with swimsuit model Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, but the lead anchor of ESPN's main sports news program shouldn't be stepping out for a product.

Just as importantly, for Patrick to be selling an alcoholic beverage at a time when the incidents of athletes and announcers (witness ESPN's Gary Miller) showing an inability to handle their liquor are growing, is not good.

Patrick appears in an ESPN public service announcement that exhorts parents to talk to their kids about drugs and drinking. Talk about your mixed messages. Which Dan Patrick are we to believe now?

And why didn't someone in ESPN management tell Patrick that for his own good and for the good of the channel, he couldn't do the spots? It's too late for that now, for the damage to his credibility and that of ESPN has already been done.

Tracking the game

While we've sung the Internet praises of CNN/SI in this space in recent months, Fox also has assembled a pretty interesting site, and yesterday it launched a new application that will be of supreme interest to seamheads and those of us who actually have a life.

The network has introduced "GameTracker," a program that provides real-time baseball scores and information with some interesting twists.

For instance, the site allows users to choose up to 30 players to place in a portfolio. Once the portfolio is up and running, the site will update career and daily stats in real time and automatically inform the user if a player has done something noteworthy, like, pitch a perfect game.

Also, the site, which can be accessed at http: //, displays games on three-dimensional fields and permits users to watch "action" from different camera angles, including from the outfield, a blimp, the bases and through a catcher's mask.

That "action" includes re-creations of how a base stealer might pilfer a base, a great defensive play or a home run. The user will have to download software to make the application work, but the software is free and the result is a lot of fun.

The hoop scene

For the basketball-needy, there are a few things on the menu over the next few days to keep you happy.

TNT will have the United States' next two games in the Olympic-qualifying Tournament of the Americas from Puerto Rico, including tonight's game with Brazil at 10 and Thursday's match with the home team at 8.

Robin Roberts will be host to a salute to former Los Angeles Lakers' great Magic Johnson as a part of ESPN Classic's "Vintage NBA" series Thursday at 8 p.m., with Orlando guard Penny Hardaway sitting in to heap on praise.

Pub Date: 7/20/99

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