Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bad homers make bad sports

Over the years at Our Word, we've been critical of the shouters, screamers, and homers whose goal it seems is to appear on any national sports highlight show with their cheerleading over the radio.

Listening to the end of the South Carolina-Missouri game a couple of weeks ago on radio while I arrived home from the Baroque Soloists concert, I could not believe how unprofessional the radio broadcast (Ellis/Suggs) was during the crazy finish of the game. We don't have the national-style radio broadcasters that used to be everyday. ESPN, in a sad way, changed the culture of how radio broadcasts are done and the result of it was the way the last play was called. I asked if the conferences should have one "regional" or "national" radio crew at each game calling the games, and both teams carrying the one national feed, similar to how Major League Baseball, prior to 1980, mandated one radio crew from national radio to offer the game to both teams' radio networks during the finals. Since fan complaints in 1980, MLB only allows the primary market to have local radio. All other stations in that team's network only has the national radio broadcast. A similar rule in the NFL applies during conference championship games and the league final, where only the primary market can have the local broadcast, and all other stations must carry the national radio feed.

Would having exclusively neutral crews calling conference games and both teams having to carry that broadcast help or hurt the sport? The development of young broadcasters has been on the decline because we've replaced the top talent with homers. South Carolina's dean of the School of Journalism, Charles Bierbauer, would be looking at homers with anger. You wouldn't want homers talking about news issues.

Here's the homer call from Fox Sports Live.  And here's the call from ESPN's coverage.

The homer call is clearly laughing and cheering, and not analysing what happened. The national television call (Joe Tessitore) has unbelief at the missed chip shot, and he saw the technical mistake almost immediately. That's what matters in any sudden incident, and that's what fans need.

There is a clear difference now in sports broadcasting, and the sad thing is that's the problem with sport today. Homers don't make for good broadcasts. A friend of mine said Charlie MacAlexander, who replaced the late Bob Fulton in 1995 and broadcast games until 2002, was much fairer than Todd Ellis. MacAlexander later worked on regional television broadcasts. The time a broadcaster used local radio to climb the ladder from local to regional radio, then regional to national radio, then from radio to television is gone, as it is now homers galore. That is a sad state of affairs now.

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