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Monday, December 13


A call for better game calling

You hear it day in, day out, no matter what sport you’re watching. For some inexplicable reason, one of the prerequisites for being a sportscaster is speaking like you barely got your college degree. Sometimes it’s more blatant than others, but it’s almost universal: today’s sportscasters broadcast their commentary at an astoundingly low level.

The football guys seem to be the worst. “That’s just a football player making a football play on the football field.” Huh? Forget the fact that there are more eloquent ways to make that point; is there anything substantive at all in there? Not that I can find.

It’s really not any better in the other sports. The analysis runs from the inane (“They won because they have great chemistry!”) to the just-plain-dull (“Shaquille O’Neal is just too big.”). Tell me something I don’t know. There are a few gems out there—Vin Scully comes to mind—but on the whole, it’s a sorry lot and I don’t understand why. Part of it is the fascination with hiring ex-athletes. The logic behind the decision is defensible: these guys used to play the sport in question, so they can offer insights that others cannot. But have you actually learned anything useful from Tony Saragusa? When was the last time Michael Irvin said something thoughtful? Has he ever said anything thoughtful?

I’m not asking for someone with a Ph.D. in football to call the game. But if they aren’t going to be particularly insightful, they should at least be entertaining. I must admit, perhaps because their colleagues are so uninteresting, I love the hyperbole you get from guys like Bill Walton and Dick Vitale. Walton once said, during a Utah Jazz game he was calling, “Greg Ostertag is the best center in the history of the NBA!” after Ostertag made three sensational plays in a row. Killer.

In short, give me some substance or give me some style. The current crop of broadcasters doesn’t offer much of either.

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