Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rah! Rah! Rah! Cheering From the Broadcast Booth

A disturbing trend in radio sports broadcasts has taken hold the last few years. Specifically, the trend of broadcasters to cheer for the team for which they broadcast. Within the broadcast industry, people who do this are known as "homers."

There are notable homers working today, such as Bob Lamey (Indianapolis Colts radio network), Hawk Harrelson (Chicago White Sox broadcasts), Michael Kay (New York Yankees), and Ron Santo (Chicago Cubs). Lamey, Harrelson, and Kay do play-by-play, while Santo does color commentary (at least, is supposed to do that).

What has happened more and more recently is for the broadcasters--usually the color commentators, but sometimes the play-by-play announcers, too--to become cheerleaders during the broadcast. This includes cheering to the point of not providing meaningful analysis of the game. Of course, we look no further than Ron Santo for one of the best examples (this comes from a Cubs/Brewers game in 1998 when Cubs left fielder Brant Brown dropped a routine fly ball that lost the game for the Cubs).

In this afternoon's radio broadcast of the Butler/LSU opening round NCAA Tournament game on the Butler Radio Network provided another example of bad broadcasting. Butler color analyst Nick Gardner constantly referred to Butler as "we" throughout the game. Evidently, Gardner thinks he still plays for Butler--either that or he had a mouse in his pocket.

In either case, it's very hard to have credibility as a broadcaster when you include yourself as part of the team. It's one thing for fans to do that--who cares, we're not supposed to be objective--but as a broadcaster, there should be some sort of separation between you and the team.

Of course, it didn't help that Gardner's analysis was lacking, too--such gems as "you want to score here" when Butler had the ball did not provide any insight into how the Bulldogs could best accomplish that.

Butler lost today, so there won't be any more opportunities for Gardner to provide non-analysis this season. Perhaps in next season's opener, one of Gardner's keys to the game will be for Butler to score more points than the other team.

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