Brian “boom goes the dynamite” Collins was just a college kid when his video made the rounds on the internet. If you’ve never seen it, the poor guy fumbles awkwardly through a sports segment for Ball State University’s student-run newscast back in 2005. The clip made its way to EbaumsWorld.com, a popular humor site featuring videos in the pre-YouTube days, and the rest is history.
While it’s perfectly fine for a student to completely bomb as a small-time sports anchor, you’d think professional broadcasters would be held to a higher standard. Color commentators for the main American sports (Football, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey) are decent for the most part, but the rest are just brutal. Whenever I tune into a soccer broadcast, or a golf broadcast, I feel like I’m watching Brian Collins all over again.
Take today’s US Open for example. When Joe Buck wasn’t putting you to sleep, the rest of the FOX broadcast team were making outdated references and botching interviews after big moments. Dustin Johnson choked as if Greg Norman himself had possessed him from the broadcasting booth, 3 putting the 18th hole to give Jordan Spieth the win, and FOX’s anchor wanted to know more about the champ’s wardrobe:
The worst part about this brutal golf broadcast was the fact that some of the commentators have forgotten more about the game of golf than I’ll ever know. Shane O’Donohue has to be a historian of the game to be able to pull those Bobby Jones references out of his ass. Greg Norman is one of the most well-known golfers of all-time. You’d think they’d be able to provide ample material for viewers to enjoy, but they didn’t quite hit the mark this weekend. Joe Buck is a familiar voice from Baseball and Football broadcasts, and didn’t sound completely out of his element with golf, but you could tell he was being fed lines and statistics without much personal knowledge. He’s a pro, but some things sounded forced.
If you thought the US Open broadcasting was bad, turn on the 2015 Women’s World Cup sometime. I don’t expect the American broadcasters to know all of the international stars, but the commentators covering the US games should know our roster top to bottom, backwards and forwards. Megan Rapinoe is one of the biggest stars on the USWNT, but fast forward to the 1:25 mark in this video to listen to the broadcaster call her “Kelly Rapinoe” http://www.foxsports.com/video?vid=460163651918. He was quickly corrected, but c’mon, dude. You’re better than that.
The anchors doing the recaps may not always know much about the sport they’re describing, but the people calling the game during the live broadcast should be better. They’re not. I could post a link to pretty much any video from the Women’s World Cup and you’ll find broadcasters Cat Whitehill, Tony DiCicco, and JP Dellacamera fumbling names. Add that to the long, drawn-out pauses where none of the commentators say anything and the games become painful to listen to. This crew should be voicing sleep aid audio mp3s instead of calling games.
To liven up soccer broadcasts, Fox brought on Gus Johnson in 2012. Johnson is the best broadcaster when it comes to college basketball, but his lack of soccer knowledge has been apparent. He’s still calling games, but when you compare American broadcasters to broadcasters in the UK, it’s like night and day. Check out this video of the UK’s Ray Hudson calling games:
Hyperbole at its best. References anyone can understand. Yes, Ray Hudson is over the top, but he’s entertaining as all hell. Where an American will describe a goal as “amazing” or “great”, Hudson will tell you it’s electrifying as a hair dryer thrown into a hot tub, my friend. That is what we need in American broadcasting. Anchors with knowledge and passion for the game.
I know I’m rambling here, but I just can’t stand most American broadcasts of less popular sports. I have minimal knowledge of the Spanish language, yet I find myself tuning into the Latin broadcast during soccer games more often than not. Even when he’s not belting out “Goooooooooooooooooooool”, the anchor seems genuinely into the game for the entire broadcast. They make a simple pass sound exciting. I just hope the standards of American sports broadcasts someday improve from their current level of brutal to somewhere close to the international standard.