Who's Calling the Shots?

Publish date:

For most sports fans, it’s both a privilege and rarity to attend games and root for your favorite teams in person. 

While it can be for several reasons, a lot of times it comes down to finances, or difficulty in attaining that much sought after ticket for that big regular season or playoff game. 

Because of this, each year we turn to radio and television broadcasts to be our ears and eyes as we stake claim to our beloved teams. Without these mediums we would be withdrawn from the competition that fulfills our lives. 

Just like the teams we cheer for, or don’t, sports fans, myself included, have come to depend and appreciate the play-by-play and color commentators to see what we can’t, hear what we can’t and give us insight into what we would be missing without them.

But recently I’ve been noticing a trend of former athletes turing announcer/commentator/critic/reporter. While I don’t necessarily discredit some of the work former athletes have done; playing or coaching at collegiate or professional levels is not a prerequisite to attain one of these jobs and hold the title as “professional.”

What I’ve come to appreciate is the hard work and effort it takes to truly master this craft. Their vocabulary seems to come alive. It’s inviting, engaging, and at times brings us into the game as we sit someplace other than the stadium. 

On the other hand, some seem to destined for a quick channel changing. They conjure ideas and thoughts that make even the simplistic fan scratch their head and think, “If you point out the obvious one more time...” Or infuriate me when I hear a former athlete say “This is how they did it back when I was playing.”

If I was so incline to know “how they did it back in your day”, I read your memoirs or google it. 

Sports play-by-play announcers and analysts are supposed to make you feel like you’re a part of the action they are witnessing. Engage you with the sights, sounds and anecdotes you don’t have the privilege of getting in person. They are a priceless commodity to sports fans across the globe. 

The decision makers who allow some of these “professionals” on-air seriously need to reevaluate who is connecting the games and the fans. If they are not careful, we’re either going to be watching the games on mute, or not watching them at all. 

Below is a list of my favorite and no-so-favorite announcers in sports.


Turn It Up:

Al Michaels - Once in a lifetime does a single game embody your existence, but could anyone have possibly come up with any single greater line in sports than “Do you believe in miracles?”

Joe Buck - While I know sometimes he gets mixed reviews at best, something about his play-by-play does the trick. Maybe it’s because Fox Sports puts him on every event they have the rights to.

Brent Musburger - Few individuals can conjure the excitement I feel for college football than when I hear that first game with this voice. For me, that’s when you know it’s college football time in American with Mus and Jack Arute. 

Troy Aikman - While I may have been tough on former athletes making the jump to the booth, I actually think he’s done a great job of it. His commentary is insightful and engaging. 

Bob Costas - Like Joe Buck, he has mixed reviews. But Costas’ versatility within sports makes him a chameleon when it comes to golf, tennis, football, hockey, or just about anything. 


Change the Channel:

Bill Walton - Have you ever wanted to fall asleep during a game faster than when he’s calling the shots. My only plea is that they give him West Coast NBA games so I can leave the tv on and get a good nights rest. 

Monday Night Football Crew - I used to look forward to this. Begging my dad to let me stay up late when I was a kid was a given on Monday Nights. While they may possibly be a step up from John Madden, hearing Kornheiser and Ron Jaworski bicker over every play has me flipping on “How’s it Made: Swimming Pools” for the third time.

Doris Burke - While ESPN certainly gives her enough opportunities to win me mover, it’s not working. The last straw was Saturday during MSU’s game against Illinois. Even with my devotion to the Spartans, the thought crossed my mind about turning the game off because of her.

John Madden - Somewhere between “turducken” and his overtly obvious comments, his commentating has become the but of jokes. In fact, his performances, or lack there of, have even made funny man Frank Caliendo famous for impersonating him. 

Jerome Bettis - First of all shave the chin strap beard. If you retired and took off the helmet, the chin strap should stay with it. Beyond that, he does nothing for the game. I have yet to see him have an articulate thought. If by some chance he does, and I’m missing it, he’s have a tough time conveying what I think he’s trying to say.


Click Here and tell me whose on your list. I was fairly current, but you can go back as long as you'd like.