Some things in sports television are sacred: Portraying the action to the fullest extent; airing a gratuitous amount of beer commercials; going to commercial after every punt and/or kickoff; and, most importantly, staying with a game or match until the final conclusion.
Leaving the scene of an event is acceptable only in the case of a horrific blowout, or when the intention is to return to the originally scheduled game.
England’s ITV did neither. ITV1 dumped out of the French Open Men’s Final match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to prepare for an exhibition – albeit for charity – soccer match between celebrities and old soccer stars called Soccer Aid.
Instead of seeing Nadal hoist his record ninth and fifth consecutive French Open title, the English viewers were treated to the pregame show of a meaningless soccer match. Some viewers didn’t have the proper subscription for ITV4 so they missed the final points of the match entirely. These tennis fans were understandably miffed.
I’m sure the “dodgy” Soccer Aid is a wonderful sporting event – one that raised £4.2 million for UNICEF – but for ITV, in its first stint showing a Grand Slam tournament, the decision to pull away during critical moments of the final game will not be remembered fondly.
At least the Soccer Aid viewers got to see Jose Mourinho tackle someone.