BY LOREN BRANCH
Since graduating from BGSU, former men’s basketball player and sport management student, James Erger has joined the Dallas Baptist staff as a graduate assistant. Because I had the pleasure of being a manager during James’ last two seasons in the orange and brown, I know him well enough to be excited about any opportunity to watch his team play. Today, I was surprised with that opportunity.
A manager who just joined the team this season was flipping through the channels trying to find a game for us to watch prior to practice when he stumbled upon CBS Sports Network (CBSSN) and let out a little groan about the fact that they were showing a Division II game. When asked who was playing, all he had to do was say “Dallas Baptist” and another veteran manager made sure he knew not to change the channel.
This was the first time I had ever seen a D2 regular season game broadcasted on national TV which was quite surprising, especially because both teams have an under .500 record. That fact led me to wonder two things; why was a major network broadcasting this game and was the production going to have the same quality as a typical Division I game.
The answer to my first question came during the first commercial break when it was announced that this was the “CBS Sports Network Division II Game of the Week.” Because I had never heard about this great concept I did a little more research that led me to some fascinating information.
Apparently, this is the eighth season where CBSSN had selected specific DII games to broadcast on TV and this was the seventh out of eight total that were selected for this season. In addition, this specific game was selected because last season, Dallas Baptist’s opponent (Newman) won the most games in the program’s history since joining the D2 ranks and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament (ncaa.com).
The answer to my second question was yes. To be honest, I expected this broadcast to lack quality with it being a lower division game but I was mistaken. The game was covered the same as a typical DI game with two experienced announcers and a court side reporter that interviewed both coaches at some point during the game. The most interesting part of the broadcast was all the personal life stories told about the head coaches and various players on both teams. The announcers did a great job of keeping viewers’ attention by talking about interesting facts regarding both teams.
In addition, there were a lot of the little things shown during DI games that were included, such as shots of the cheerleaders yelling into the camera, fans cheering, and the family of the home team’s coach in the stands. There is no doubt that this broadcast was handled just as well as any other higher level college basketball broadcast and that is a very professional way for CBSSN to handle these games.
Not only did CBSSN make the risky decision to broadcast DII games but they made sure to incorporate teams that are predicted to be entertaining and do a great job from a production stand point. This was a genius idea! Even if it does nothing but serve as a way to draw attention to the network, it would be great. However, it also creates good publicity for them and brings huge benefits to DII athletics and all the programs involved every year.
This, “Game of the Week”, concept is by far one of the best and most underrated things to happen to college basketball broadcasting and maybe even sport broadcasting as a whole.