In my 2007 post on what I like about sports media, I chose to break-up play-by-play into radio and television. I think it’s best to lump them into general game coverage as I look at how things have changed since that original column.
Let me begin by asking a question…why do you watch/listen to a game? Sounds a little silly, but when some are critical of those who handle play-by-play or analysis, they need to ask themselves that question. I know I watch/listen to a game for the action on the field. I really don’t watch for the play-by-play. I’m knowledgeable enough to follow the action and deduce what it means.
When it comes to a play-by-play announcer and color analyst, the more understated the better. That’s why I feel Joe Buck, Jim Nantz, and Al Michaels are great announcers. They let the game speak for itself. I don’t care for announcers who go over the top and get overly excited, like a Gus Johnson. When I see Johnson call a game, I wonder how long he practiced what he was going to say. It’s appears contrived.
I like to pay more attention to the color analyst and how he/she provides insight into what just transpired on the field. Yes, I know that the Packers just pick-ed up a first down, but I want the analyst to point out the nuances as to how it happened. Those with a firm grasp of X’s and O’s generally make the best analysts.
Networks need to stop catering to the lowest common denominator in game coverage, even during big events like the Super Bowl. You’re never going to attract new fans if they’ve never been invested in the sport in the past. Don’t take the rest of us for granted, educate us and let us handle the newcomers in our midst.
There is no need for a three person booth or for sideline reporters. We all see when the extra man in the booth leads to everyone fighting for air time. Sideline reporters rarely get any information that a competent associate producer couldn’t get. We hear from them so infrequently that their talents are wasted.
The need to recoup money for rights fees has resulted in selling just about every part of a broadcast to advertisers. Pre-game, post game, and such mundane events as pitching changes now all have their own sponsor. That should bother me. But it’s become so commonplace now that I rarely seem concerned by all these intrusions.
Technically, games have never been covered better. There’s been no real trends set on the radio side. But innovation has led the way to how games are broadcast on television. Since 2007 just about all professional games are now telecast in high definition. The placement of cameras in unique locations have resulted in seeing a play from just about every conceivable angle. Audio enhancements have also positively impacted the viewing experience. The only aspect to this innovation I’m not excited about is 3D. There’s simply not enough 3D content available and most people who recently bought a television in the last two years will be willing to invest in another one just for the 3D experience.