No other major television network sports property exploits “family” storylines like the NCAA Tournament. From coaches treating players like sons, to opponents being linked together from high school days, from retracing coaching trees. There’s a sweet element of sentiment to all this.
The most fertile area for jerking tears are those shots of families watching the game. The coach’s wife and kids. The players’ moms and dads seen in jubilation or heartbreak. The Fam-Cam humanizes this billion-dollar event. On Friday night, in St. Louis, Clark Kellogg, CBS’ No. 1 college hoops analyst, should be in one of those camera shots watching his son Nick, a sophomore guard for Ohio, going up against mighty North Carolina in the Midwest semifinals.
Kellogg, who has already missed two of his son’s tournament games, won’t be there. Instead, he’ll be sitting next to Jim Nantz analyzing Kentucky-Indiana in Atlanta in a South semi.
Yes, this is sheer madness.
Here we have the son, with no certainty of ever reaching this rung on the tourney ladder again, preparing to participate in the biggest moment of his athletic career and his father won’t be attending the game? This is beyond crazy.
It also makes it hard to believe when Nantz, or any other CBS/Turner mouth, starts singing the praises of the parents and how much their presence at the games means to the “kids.” With the way this Kellogg thing is going down that all becomes lip service. CBS’ message is clear: Working a game is more important than being with your son in what will be one of the most memorable moments of his life.
Kellogg has made it easy for CBS. When asked about the situation, he’s said it was not a big deal that he wasn’t assigned to call the games in the region his son played, or is about to play in. That’s not our point. Kellogg should just go to the game and watch it from the seats.
There’s an easy way to make that happen. All CBS Sports boss Sean McManus has to do — what he should do — is pick up the telephone, call Kellogg and say: “Clark take Friday night off and go watch your son play. I’m not asking you to do this, I’m telling you to go. Moments like this for you and your family won’t come around that often.”
Giving Kellogg Friday night off is the right thing to do. Yeah, we know he’s scheduled to work a much-anticipated matchup, but it’s not like he won’t be around for the rest of the tournament when each game gets bigger. Kellogg’s not exactly close to winding up his career, either. There are plenty of big games in his future.
It’s not like CBS would have to scramble to find an analyst to replace him Friday night. Remember, CBS/Turner are using what seems like a cast of thousands to work this tournament. This just in: The absence of Kellogg also won’t cost CBS a single rating point during the Kentucky-Indiana telecast.
As a matter of fact, if Kellogg does attend Ohio-North Carolina, those shots of him watching from the stands, the ability to capture his expressions and emotions during the game, will make for an intriguing storyline. Maybe CBS gets creative and puts a wireless microphone on Kellogg.
Nantz, whose opinion counts at the network, probably wouldn’t mind Kellogg (or as Nantz calls him “Partner”) taking the night off. After all, Nantz is big into the family storyline, too. When it comes to this tournament, he’s also the King of Schmaltz.
His words down the stretch of Duke-Lehigh provided further evidence. “It’s efforts like this by Lehigh that’s given the tournament its spirit,” Nantz said. “The little guy given one chance, one chance to slay the giant.”
The only thing Nantz would miss, if Kellogg misses Friday night’s tilt, would not being able to similarly describe his partner’s emotion while watching his son play in the biggest game of his life.
And if Kellogg doesn’t go to his son’s game, well, this is just another in a long list of bad decisions lacking common sense and a human touch. No, this is easy.
Let Kellogg attend the game.
Let him share his son Nick’s one shining moment.
Read more at the New York Daily News where this story was originally published.