Friday, 4 November 2011

ESPN & Dave's TV Sports Review: An explanation

You can’t have failed to notice the rumours flying around with regard the lack of blogging and tweeting activity from Dave’s TV Sports in recent months and now’s the time to set the record straight. Yes, myself, Dave of Dave’s TV Sports, and ESPN have split.

The separation was made official when last Friday, the 28th October, I arrived home from work and casually flicked ESPN on in the hope of finding out which Bundesliga game would be shown that night to be met by the message:

Access to this service is denied by your viewing card.

It’s hard to explain the emotions felt at this point. Having rang up TopUpTV approximately a month before to inform them that I wished to end my subscription I cannot have been surprised by this. I wasn’t surprised by this. But the realisation was hard to take as an important chapter of my TV sports watching life had come to an end.

We’d been together a while before the first ever DTVSr was, fittingly enough, an ESPN shown fixture between 1FC.Köln and Borussia Dortmund and to read back through it many could be forgiven had they believed this was an unbreakable connection between two kindred spirits. Things were clearly going well in those days. I was enjoying their coverage of European leagues, I was enjoying their coverage of Aussie Rules and they’d started showing the truly excellent 30 for 30 series of documentaries.

It was a relationship that appeared to be growing stronger by the week and we shared some unforgettable moments.

One of the most memorable came last December during the Anderlecht v Hajduk Split Europa League game. On DTVSr’s sister twitter account, @shirtspotter, I tweeted that Hajduk’s kit was giving me an “almighty Oldham 96/97 vibe.” This led to a discussion with @DolphinHotel which resulted in him divulging the information that former Latics striker, Ian Olney, now works as a financial advisor. It’s hard to describe the joy felt at such a moment and just typing my memories of that night brings a smile to my face.

And even in these last few months when the relationship was becoming noticeably fractured we could still share in beautiful moments. Just a couple of weeks ago I found myself doing a little jig in delight when I got to watch Miroslav Klose’s injury time winner for Lazio in the Rome derby. It was occasions like that caused a few to question whether the split was as ominous as I believed it to be. Certainly, the people at TopUpTV’s customer retainer department made a series of phone-calls suggesting a reconciliation but my decision was made.

Where did it all go wrong then? Obviously some things should remain unblogged and I have too much respect for the channel I paid £10 a month to for over two years to badmouth it in public but to look back on DTVSr’s tweets in the past few months it was obvious cracks in the relationship were beginning to show.

The choice of a round of live Premiership Rugby Sevens rather than the Bundesliga opener between Dortmund and SV Hamburg on the evening of August the 5th hurt. It still hurts. And the fact that I couldn’t view the channel until 13.00 (11.00 at weekends) was a constant source of friction, none more so than when it caused me to miss the first hour of Collinwood v St.Kilda a couple of months earlier.

Still, I’m not saying I was faultless in the break down. I know my enjoyment of canned lager and bottled ale while watching the channel often made it feel like it was secondary in providing me with entertainment. As is the case with all forms of experiencing sport, I felt the two could run harmoniously (successfully in fact) in tandem but ESPN did not feel the same, and who am I to tell the UK version of an International sports network how to feel?

One thing it wouldn’t be right for me to comment on here are the, quite frankly, vicious suggestions that another format for watching live sport was fundamental to the split. Those close to us knew we were open in our relationship and I often watched sports on alternative channels while ESPN allowed other TV Sports enthusiasts to view its offerings. It wasn’t and still isn’t, certainly from my point of view, a problem. What’s happened has happened and maybe they’ll be a time to absolutely put the record straight in public but for both our wellbeing, it’s still too early.

And so it is so, we go our separate ways. It hurts but right now I feel it’s for the best. As I said previously we will always have the memories. That tiny graphic they use to indicate a red card has been shown in a game. The bizarre motor racing competition where cars represent European clubs. Their two-hour long review of the seasons French Cup including game commentaries in the native language. The list could be endless.

As for the future I’d say it’s inevitable our paths will cross (possibly as early as this Saturday at 17.30) as we both mix in the same circles and I hope we can still get on. I’m sure we can. We still share so much in common but some things in life just don’t work out. My heart, however, will always skip a beat whenever I hear the words “Eredivise Highlights Show.”

Happy Viewing fellow enthusiasts. Dave