Thirty one years ago, on July 5, 1975, Arthur Ashe upset number one seed Jimmy Connors and won his only Wimbledon championship. Since Connors had not lost a set up to the championship match and Ashe was past his prime, it would have been tremendously exciting to have watched the match on television with no idea of who was going to win.
However, I made the mistake of calling my family that Sunday morning before the tape-delayed NBC telecast came on and my father answered the phone by telling me the score. (We felt we were intimate with Ashe because he had taught tennis for our local recreation department)
That kind of ruined things.
If this sort of thing were to happen now, it surely would be my own fault. It would be because I TIVOed a game and forgot to keep my eyes and ears closed on the way home. Years ago we started having soccer games and sailing races from the other side of the world on at 2 a.m., so the days of tape delay must be gone.
WRONG! NBC, the network of the "plausibly live", i.e.secretly delayed, Olympics, is still tape delaying Wimbledon during the week. The result of Andre Agassi's final match was on the Yahoo home page before the telecast even started last Monday at 10 a.m. on the West Coast. What is more, NBC not only chucked ESPN2's live broadcast off the air for the 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT time slot on the East Coast, it also had ESPN2 blacked out from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. PDT on the West Coast, meaning those three hours of programming will never be seen here.
There is no excuse for this in the Internet age. NBC has at least four networks at its disposal if it does not want to disturb the Today Show on the West Coast. It should show sports live to both coasts or get out of the way. It certainly should not take the novel step of preventing ESPN2 from going back on the air at 1 p.m. EDT after NBC's three hour East Coast window.
All this week, NBC is pulling this stunt. Tomorrow's women's semifinals are on at noon on the West Coast, which is to say 8 p.m. in London. Think the word might be out? At least ESPN2 gets, I think, one match (I am guessing the non-Sharapova one) live at 5 a.m., if NBC lets them.