Listening to the Game

Do you tire of listening to TV sportscasters who recite odd statistics about players who aren’t even part of the play instead of simply calling the game? How about telling me what’s happening instead of remarking on someone’s twitter feud?

The visuals can be frivolous. The scrolling ticker distracts me. And, there are endless tidbits about each player, coach, and team to fill many off-seasons and wrap-up shows. When I tune into a game, I want to know which player made the tackle, which player blocked, which player did anything. Tell me where the ball is. Announce the down. Remind me of the score. Sure, it’s on the screen, but not everyone can read it.

As a kid, I was drawn to certain broadcasters. I learned to avoid entire channels because the announcers grated on my nerves so much. Time and time again, the people with radio experience kept my attention. Radio broadcasters have a knack for keeping the audience informed and excited during the event. Only a voice carried over the airwaves; the words needed to create the visual images in the minds of listeners.

As a Bills fan, Van Miller will always be the Voice of the Buffalo Bills to me. I remember listening to games in NY at my grandparent’s house. When the NFL blackout policy kicked in (any home game that wasn’t sold out 72 hours before the event), TV broadcasting was blocked and radio was the only option for those of us within a 75-mile radius of the stadium.

“Will you kids keep quiet,” my grandmother would say, chain-smoking another cigarette while sitting next to the radio at the end of the couch. “I don’t want to miss this.”

After the final play, we would anticipate watching SportsCenter’s Prime Time to hear Chris Berman and Tom Jackson summarize all of the NFL games. The back-and-forth commentating amused us.

Before the MLB strike in the 90s killed my baseball interest, I stretched out in the living room to listen to the Phillies games. Harry Kalas called those from the booth and always kept me engaged.

My college years in Pittsburgh introduced me to another broadcaster, Myron Cope. Bills games weren’t broadcasted in Steeler Nation, so I watched the black and gold instead. Cope’s voice by his account, “cut through concrete,” but the inventor of the Terrible Towel had enthusiasm and humor along with a passion for calling the game. My roommates taught me how to, “turn on the TV, turn down the sound, and turn on Myron on the radio.”

Every time I catch Olympics coverage, my ears wait to hear Bob Costas chime in with something intelligent and accurate. It’s a combo of the voice and the info.

When I watched the NCAA Men’s Basketball games this year, Charles Barkley entertained me. Some games he sounded worse for wear, but the passion for the game was there.

After gaining low vision, my tolerance for poor broadcasting plummeted. I am picky about commentating like grade-schoolers are with lunches: I won’t settle for fillers. When I find a voice I like, I will stick with it.

Who are your favorite and not-so-favorite broadcasters?

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. bethfinke says:

    My favorite broadcaster, hands down is Bob Uecker for the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s fantastic.

    1. Beth: I will look him up. I’m always looking for good broadcasters to listen to.

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