Announcers Should Take Some Chill Pills
December 2, 2005 at 12:00 AM
By Brett Pahler
The quality of NFL broadcasting has swiftly deteriorated in the last decade. We've bottomed out in a nadir where most announcers over-emphasize and dwell on even the most mundane aspects of the game - in a fevered pitch, no less, with no intention of allowing even a nanosecond of silence at any point during the broadcast.
This leads to highly unenjoyable segments of the broadcast where announcers say things like, "Look here. I want you to look at something. I want you to see the hole created by the offensive line. Now look at the running back running into the hole. You know what I call that? Great vision. But look at the linebacker. Look at the linebacker running into the hole and making the tackle. Bam! You know what that shows? Film study. The linebackers must have studied film this week to know that they were supposed to run into the hole and make the tackle. That's why Gregg Williams is a great defensive coach. He really has his guys anticipating, rather, dictating, what the offense is doing out there."
I wouldn't mind the inane commentary so much if they spoke at reasonable decibel levels and stopped trying to distract us from the game. But they don't. They drink six cans of Red Bull before every broadcast, and make their foul behavior the focal point. This would be perfect if the audience consisted primarily of people who, say, liked to hit things, bash their heads into walls, get in car wrecks, and otherwise thrive off of mayhem, pandemonium, and a lack of restraint of humanity's worst qualities. But seeing that your average viewer is probably in his thirties or forties, has a family, lives in the suburbs, and just came home from church, I don't think it's necessary for FOX to employ these violence-mongerers. I shudder to think of what we would have to listen to if the play clock were 5 or 10 seconds longer.
And then, these people have the nerve to use the telestrator. I blame the networks for this. Having a telestrator laying around for the announcers is like leaving some kryptonite laying around for Lex Luther. It should be kept under lock and key. Watching these people try to telestrate a concept is like listening to the FEMA director try to explain the meaning of disaster recovery. If anything, the telestrator should be used by us to telestrate to them how to behave like normal members of society when in a broadcast booth.
On a different note, would it kill these announcers to do a little research on the teams they're covering over the course of the week? A game can be TIVO'd through in an hour. If these guys know they're covering a 49ers game, what's so hard about spending 10 hours during the week watching some games from the season of each team? By doing so, they might be able to tell us a few things of interest, such as, "The passing game really dried up once Arnaz Battle got hurt," or "Kwame Harris continues to get worse with each passing game."
Is it really more rewarding for them to tell us the same things that have been said 1,000 times? You know that Julian Peterson played four different positions in a game once. That Bryant Young is the last link to our '94 Super Bowl team. Are they telling us this stuff because they think we'll still think it's interesting the 876th time we hear it, or because it's all they know about the 49ers? If the latter, how could anyone go on national television so ill-prepared to talk for three hours? How do these people live with themselves?
One of the other problems I have is that these broadcasters act as though we have never once watched a football game. Let's use one example that I hear a half-dozen times every Sunday: "run to set up the pass" - or some variation - a phrase accompanied by a groundswell of energy as the announcers realize that they have opportunity to explain one of the more complicated facets of the game to their audience of ignoramuses.
I asked my wife, who knows nothing about football, what she thinks it means to "run to set up the pass." She thought it was a trick question. After I assured her that it wasn't, she said she thought it meant that teams run to set up the pass. This is a lady who views tight ends as mutant half-receiver, half-linemen, and thinks that onsides kicks are cheating. Why are these announcers acting like they're splitting the atom when they're telling us stuff that is intuitively obvious to people that don't even watch football?
One last thought. No discussion of annoying commentary would be complete without a word or two on Joe "firm grasp of the obvious" Theismann. "Great players make great plays!" Theisman trumpets as if he's just discovered the secret recipe for Couscous. Why not tell us the other side of the story occasionally. Why gloss over the fact that terrible players make terrible plays?
To put it in perspective, let's say you're sitting around, watching the game with some friends, and you start mouthing off like the announcers do. You say to your friends, "I want you to take a look at something. Look at the way the safeties are each taking a deep half of the field. That's what they call the Cover 2, also known as the Tampa 2, because it started with Tony Dungy down in Tampa, and has since spread like wildfire to the rest of the league." If your friends didn't make a beeline for the door, they would at the very least assume you were a drunken idiot and for good reason, because there's no point in any game where it would ever be appropriate to say that under any circumstances. Which raises the question, why do the announcers believe that it's okay to suspend social norms just because they're in a broadcast booth?
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