As I get older I tend to be annoyed by things which are in reality probably not very important. for example, I have a real resentment about the highly paid professional  sports announcers who totally fail to do what they were hired to do in their coverage of professional basketball and football games. Let’s start with the fact they have been hired to add to the enjoyment of fans watching the games on television. There are usually two announcers involved. There is a play-by-lay Announcers who was hired to be responsible for providing a live, detailed description of the action during the game. They are supposed to narrate the play-by-play, describing the action, and providing key details such as player names, scores, and time remaining.

There is also the color commentator who is supposed to provide analysis and background information, such as statistics, strategy, and injury reports on the teams and athletes. Color commentators are often former athletes or coaches of the sport being broadcast and that is where the problem most often exists. Too often the ego of the color commentator causes them to lose sight of what their real job is. Instead, they cannot resist explaining how they would have handled the playing or the play called had they been the player involved or the coach. To show how they know best. they leave the live television action to replay endless video of replays with a long “know it all” dialogue. More often than not they are so engrossed in explaining their wisdom based upon their playing or coaching experience  viewers miss live action taking place during this irrelevant diatribe.

(Photo of Joe Buck and Troy Aiken sports annuncers)

On top of that, too often the two announcers seem to forget that their role is intended to increase the television viewer’s enjoyment of the game rather than excessive personsl casually chating with each other about topics other than the game being televised. They sound like a couple of people who were merely attending a sports event together for their enjoyment. They seem to lose interest in the game being played and revert to personal conversation.  The play by play and color coverage is abandoned and becomes commenting about what they have been doing, their mutual friends or other irrelevant personal sharing.

In addition, ether by reason of ego or a mistaken understanding of their role, the announcers seem to think their role is to fill every moment of airtime with continuous nonstop talking. On top of that, most of it is irrelevant, distracting and annoying. Part of the drama of watching a game on television is the sounds of the fans and the noise surrounding the game on the field or in the arena.  One can enjoy that if the announcers stop talking, at least for a short time, and particularly at key moments.

Good announcers who know their role add enjoyment to watching games on television but are rare. Those responsible for hiring announcers ought to understand the overwhelming majority of people watch or listen to sports events for enjoyment of the game and not to listen to or  hope to be entertained by the announcers.

In as much as I am on this rant, let me also address another annoying issue regarding television news. I understand and accept the fact that most people today want brief and to the point news accounts , whether in the newspapers, radio or television. I agree with this attitude.  My problem is with the failure to provide a complete and logical report of the news. Too often, there is a report of a news event which omits the most relevant part of the story and that is the reason for or behind the event. It was Rudyard Kipling whose poem “Keep Six Honest Serving Men” began:

“I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who”

Journalism purists will argue a story isn’t complete until you answer all six questions. It’s hard to argue this point, since missing any of these questions leaves a hole in the  story. All too often the radio and television stories do not include they six elements. Worse, why do reports on the radio and television omit the most relevant part of a news story which is “why” the event happened or to report that the cause is unknown. Instead, the news report is something like “A former student of a retired school teacher shot her to death at her home.” End of story. No explanation.
One example is  David Muir on television ABC World News. His reports are frequently 30 seconds and even less. He begins his broadcast with describing the nature of the news stories he will be covering during the report. It might be a preview like: “A high school football star shot his coach in Ohio.” He repeats the headline of the story not yet covered which he will be reporting after the news break for advertising with something  like “After the break, ‘a high school football star has shot his coach in Ohio.” There are frequent breaks for adveristing after brief news reports. Finally it is time to report this news and he does so with:  “Columbus Ohio Police have arrested a 17 year old Central High School star football player for shooting his coach to death Friday morning during school hours at the high school. Charges are pending.” End of report! No reason why. No details. Just a less than 30 second report he has been promising to tell about later in the news to build anticipation about a story not explained.
Television and radio news reports should be more than a headline and more than 20 or 30 seconds long. They should include all six of Kipling’s “six honest serving men” to be considered an adequate news stories. This is an increasing problem as the news reports become more like abbreviated text messages between people.
That’s my list for grumbling and complaints for now. I have a long list of more complaints based on the assumption I know what’s best from a long life of mistakes made because I thought I knew what was best. But, I feel better now that I have complained.

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