Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Best From the Booth

The news of Hall of Fame broadcaster John Madden's sudden retirement from NBC's Sunday Night Football put a cap on what has been a sad and somewhat reflective week in the world of sports broadcasting.

First Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas passes away on Monday and now this.


And now we are left to speculate with some necessary caution and skepticism as to what voices we will be left with.

As I stated in my post the other day about Kalas, I always get nervous when a great broadcaster passes away or retires because they usually get replaced with a crappy one. I have a very bad suspicion that Chris Collingsworth with get the nod at the Peacock to replace Madden and I can't imagine a worse fate for Sunday Night football.


To me, broadcasting is a lot like officiating. When it's bad you really notice it, when it's good you shouldn't notice it, and when it's great, it actually adds a depth and richness to the game that you're watching.

For me personally, I will actually turn down the volume during a Joe Buck-Troy Aikman game (and that only get's more difficult during the NFL playoffs when the big games - including the Super Bowl - are on FOX because those two are somehow the network's "A" team") but conversely, I will watch any random AFC game on CBS when Dick Enberg is behind the mic.

I used to love a Jim Nantz college basketball broadcast but he has slipped a little for me in the past few years as he tries too hard now to find a creative play on words at every turn (it all started in 2005 when a Sean May-led UNC team won the title and Nantz poetically quipped, "The Tarheels win a tournament that started in March, concluded in April, and ended in May". Ugh. I have yet to forgive him for that one).

And I can't figure out why CBS still holds Gus Johnson back in their college basketball coverage (and NFL coverage for that matter) because he makes EVERYTHING exponentially more exciting than it actually is but still gets regularly relegated to a Univ of Washington-Gonzaga game or a Texans-Chiefs contest (and I STILL want to watch because of him).

I sent out a mass text today just wondering who are some of our favorite current broadcasters and I pretty much got the responses I expected.

A lot of people mentioned Bob Costas (even though he only does the Olympics anymore - I would give anything for him to call just one more World Series or just one more NBA Finals game). There were a few mentions of Nantz (and I do love his work for The Masters), Al Michaels, Jon Miller, Brent Musberger, and Marv Albert.

But most of those guys are broadcasting vets.

I feel like we are entering the end of one era and I'm getting a little concerned about the beginning of the next.

Who are the next great sports broadcasters and does that concept even exist? It is an interesting topic only because - like I said - when we are left to the Bucks, and Aikmans, and Collingsworths of the world, the entertainment value of the games we love does suffer for the worst.

And that only makes you miss the best from the booth that much more.

1 comment:

Paul said...

'To me, broadcasting is a lot like officiating. When it's bad you really notice it, when it's good you shouldn't notice it, and when it's great, it actually adds a depth and richness to the game that you're watching.'

Brilliant. Exactly right. Honestly, the most famous current announcers fall into the first catagory for me. I hate announcers today. Very bummed about Madden.