When analysts attack

Photo: ChicagoBusiness.com
Image courtesy of ChicagoBusiness.com

Kendall Gill suspended indefinitely from CSN analyst role

It’s never a dull day in Chicago media.

The latest Barrel O’ Fun moment came last week in a rather bizarre incident between Comcast SportsNet Chicago Bulls analyst Kendall Gill and Big Ten Network’s Tim Doyle at CSN Chicago’s River North headquarters.

According to Crain’s Chicago Business sports blogger Danny Ecker – who witnessed the incident first hand – Gill got into a confrontation with Doyle over Gill’s analysis of a controversial play near the end of a Denver Nuggets-Chicago Bulls game on March 18, in which the Bulls lost. Eventually, Gill – a former hoops star at the University of Illinois and a 15-year NBA veteran, punched Boyle and blood was drawn. The March 19 incident happened after Doyle, Gill, and Ecker appeared as guests on CSN’s recently revamped Sports Talk Live panel discussion show.

As a result, Gill has been suspended from his analyst role for the rest of the Chicago Bulls season. His employment status at CSN is uncertain.

News of this first broke on Ecker’s blog at Crain’s of course, and was quickly picked up by other sports media websites and landed on the front page of the Chicago Tribune’s website and ESPN.com.

What’s more bizarre is when both Gill and Doyle appeared together on Sports Talk Live, their conversation over the goaltending interference call at the end of the Bulls game was actually civil. The altercation took place as the three men were making their way through the CSN newsroom toward the building’s exit.

Public sentiment skewed toward Gill, with few giving Doyle the benefit of the doubt. Doyle, who played hoops at Northwestern from 2004-07, quickly has become a polarizing figure in sports media (did BTN hire this guy straight off the street?), a la former Chicago Tribune sports columnist Skip Bayless, and his distractors include many of his colleagues: WLS-TV sports anchor Mark Giangreco tweeted last Wednesday: “I hope Kendall Gill’s suspension for punching Tim Doyle is with pay…. [and] more.” 

Attitudes like Doyle’s are becoming common place on these type of sports panel programs as producers seek higher ratings with an cable-news like atmosphere… i.e. on-air arguments and confrontations. A prime example is ESPN 2’s forgettable daytime strip First Take, which pairs one loathsome panelist (Bayless) against another loathsome panelist (Stephen A. Smith), where they argue endlessly on subjects such as Tim Tebow, the NBA, and… Tim Tebow. Both Bayless and Smith are more qualified to host baby-mama-drama, circus-like talk shows along the lines of Jerry Springer, Maury, and The Bill Cunningham Show than debate sports topics.

The incident between Gill and Doyle does underscore the kind of egos at play when it comes to media in the third-largest market. I suppose coming up next, Sports Talk Live books former Survivor nutball Brandon Hantz as a guest so he can have an off-air confrontation with host David Kaplan. Since this is Chicago, it’s entirely possible.

Edited 2013-04-01 at 11:35 p.m. (removed link to YouTube video, which was taken down)