ESPN Watering Down The Product.
The opportunity for a public relations disaster is enhanced each time a large-scale tragedy occurs in our country or world.
ESPN is well aware of this and has decided not to refer to the Pistol formation as such for today’s Gildan New Mexico Bowl between the Nevada Wolfpack and Arizona Wildcats. Instead, they will refer to it as the “Nevada formation.” This, of course, coming on the heels of the horrific mass killing of people — many children — in the town of Newtown, Connecticut.
It’s a respectable move to make every effort not to insight further emotional response from a hurting nation, but does it go too far?
Human beings are intelligent enough to know that the Pistol formation is contextually unrelated to violence. Just as the shotgun formation or “rifling one in there” on a pass play is a part of football, so too are hyperbolic phrases and war-like comparisons connected to the sport’s production value.
Today would not be the easiest day to call a game on the radio or television for a color commentator. But is removing a phrase like “Pistol formation” an insult to our intelligence or our ability to move on? We come to sports as spectators to get away from life, and decisions such as this create awkward moments that force us to think about “why” the decision is made.
Each time I see the Pistol formation and hear it called something different, I’m going to think of the violence. Had ESPN decided to carry on without making such an exception I likely would never have made the connection between the formation and the tragic events of yesterday. But I also understand the public relations standpoint and the care that must be taken when a wound is so fresh to an entire nation.