Monday, January 7, 2008

The Decline of the Modern Announcer

I'd like to share with you a sentiment that has been eating at me for a few weeks now.

I am virtually certain that I will pursue a career in sports journalism; I have experience in the field, I have a passion to deliver the news of athletics, and I'd like to think that I have sufficient talent to be successful in the mass media.

Recently, I have begun to realize that my future might lie in the world of broadcasting instead of print journalism. While I objectively believe that I possess the skill to make a living in either field, I feel burnt out going to the Daily every Sunday and getting the same assignment every week. Maybe I need a break, maybe I need a new beat, or maybe I just don't like writing for the newspaper anymore. In any case, I'd like to try something new for a change of pace. The obvious choice is broadcast journalism. I have good hair and a deep voice--the total package!

There's only one problem: I root for bad guys.

My feverish support of athletic villainy has undoubtedly grown from my undying love for professional wrestling. At a young age, I realized that portraying a "heel" (the bad guy) in the ring is infinitely more difficult than playing a "face" (the good guy). Faces win more belts, they sell more merchandise, and they get more love from the fans. All they have to do in return is follow the rules inside the ring and maybe say something nice about the city in which they're performing that night.

Meanwhile, everyone hates the heel. He never wins a championship unless he cheats and he never keeps it for more than a week unless he's a coward and refuses to fight. The fans boo him, his t-shirts don't sell, and he is by definition prohibited from being the top name in the business. I quickly recognized this injustice and made it a point to cheer wholeheartedly for the heels.

Now, unfortunately for yours truly, such an attitude won't fly in the world of mainstream sports. Fights aren't scripted and injuries aren't faked. So, of course, lauding such catastrophes would be beyond reprehensible. If Harry Caray had cheered and whistled when a fastball caught a visiting batter in the face or Howard Cosell had applauded when a boxer got his neck broken, the audience would be justifiably horrified.

But what I don't understand is the newfound role of the play-by-play announcer as The Faultless Prick Who Feels He Possesses the Authority to Remind His Audience of What is and is Not Morally Acceptable. Here's a good example:

Yes, you're goddamn right we're going to cheer that hit. Would you like to know why? Because when people turn on a football game, they are probably cognizant of the fact that it is a violent contact sport. A huge hit like that would be inappropriate in, shit, I don't know, tennis. But football players hit each other. Don't whine about it like it's not part of the fucking game. Do you see any trainers around Antonio Smith on the bench? Is he wearing a fucking neck brace? Was he airlifted off the field while his teammates huddled and prayed? No. Not only did you overstep your jurisdiction, you also pointed your finger at your audience and chastised them for celebrating a play that your holier-than-thou ass deemed dirty.

Are you fucking kidding me? DO YOUR JOB. Your job, which you have obviously forgotten how to perform, is to report on the action which is presently occurring. Nowhere in a play-by-play announcer's job description does it give him the right to

a) present his own beliefs as though they are indisputable fact
b) lambaste the very people that he is trying to entertain.

Why would a man even pursue a career in sports broadcasting if he doesn't approve of the viewers? Who the fuck is he to determine our values? That was an awesome hit. If you don't like it, keep your fucking mouth shut and wait until you get home and tell your fucking goldfish how you feel. It is not your responsibility or your right as an announcer to give your two cents on the matter at hand.

I don't want to make a name for myself as the Evil Announcer when my time comes, but I'd like to think I won't be the unique kind of pussy that has become a staple of modern sports announcing. That's all.

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