Another Reason Why I Hate Television

Another Reason Why
I Hate Television

© David Burton 2018

Sports Broadcastin

     In previous writings, I’ve railed against cable television – too many commercials, inaccurate and/or biased news coverage, irrelevant statistics on sports broadcasts, and numerous other irritants foisted on their captive audiences. (Ref.'s 1, 2 and 3) Now, I have found still one more reason to hate television.

     A few nights back, the Boston Red Sox were playing the New York Yankees down in New York. For the past two months, the two teams have been fighting for first place in the East Division of the American League. Also, there is always an air of excitement when these two teams play each other. Most televised Red Sox games are carried on the local New England Sports Network (NESN) channel. But tonight, the game was carried nationally on the Entertainment and Sports Network (ESPN). ESPN was utilizing some talking heads to cover the game and these baseball “experts” simply could not keep their mouths shut. They continually rambled on with all sorts of uninteresting talk and numerous irrelevant and obscure baseball statistics. They simply would not shut up with their boring running commentary.

     After four or five innings of the unending pap from the broadcasters/commentators, I had enough and decided to turn off the television sound and listen to local Red Sox radio broadcast while watching the TV picture. I tuned into the game on the local Red Sox FM radio station and was happily listening to the broadcast when I realized that something was wrong - the television broadcast was delayed by about fifteen seconds! Consequently, I could not listen to the game on the radio and watch the game simultaneously on television. I was thus stuck with one of three undesirable choices if I wanted to watch the game:

1. I could watch the game on television while listening to the incessant babble coming over the TV channel

2. I could watch the game on television while listening to a reasonable amount of interesting comment on the radio, but with a 15 second delay between the two.

3. I could watch the game on television, shut off the sound and watch the game with no commentary at all.

     There was one more alternative, for which I opted for the rest of the game – I listened to the game on the radio and didn’t watch the game on television.

     Why couldn’t the TV executives get some decent broadcasters and commentators on this nationally televised sports program? Why couldn’t they synchronize the TV and radio coverage to provide a simulcast - one where the fans could choose to listen to local or national broadcast personnel? Does sponsorship control the airwaves to the extent that the public is forced to put up with limited and poor choices?

     “Sports are about love and fun: sitting back and basking in the pure joy of watching {and listening to} the game. Unfortunately, that bliss is often interrupted by the obnoxious drone of a terrible sports announcer.
     “Some sportscasters, like the immortal John Madden and Harry Caray, manage{d} to combine interesting commentary with a love of sports that actually enhance{d} the fan's experience. Sadly, those announcers are few and far between {today}.” (Ref. 4)

     Some of the mistakes that have soured sports fans include[4] :

  • Trying to adapt a comedian to sports broadcasting, resulting in an announcer who tried too hard with every line and was just not funny
  • Announcers who simply fail to provide anything new or interesting to fans
  • Color commentators who showcase themselves when they are on screen and think they are the centerpiece of the game
  • An announcer who can be hard to stand, is quite loud, often drowning out his co-broadcaster, and over-using his own knowledge by commenting on and analyzing every single aspect of a game
  • The announcer without a middle ground - the announcer either goes on a long, praising rant of a team and its players, or else goes after them for the entire game
  • Utilizing former players who rate as a "great players, but terrible sportscasters". The former great always seems to compare players to his era and carries grudges from three decades back
  • Using analysts who are always talking, but whose analysis never leads to genuine insight
  • Over-analysis makes bad sports announcers and during the game, the mix of constant analysis of everything going on, feeble attempts at wry humor, and a tendency toward grandiose verbiage that makes the eyes roll, is enough to push viewers to turn off the television
  • Using announcers who lack enthusiasm.
     To make Television coverage of sports enjoyable again, let me offer the following suggestions to sports announcers and color commentators, taken from Reference 5:
  1. ”Be prepared – Always gather as much information as you can before a broadcast. An announcer who does his or her ‘homework’ is an announcer better equipped to tell the story of the game and give the play-by-play a little bit more. Being as familiar as possible with players and their respective teams only helps you do a better job on the broadcast.
  2. “Let the game do the talking – Never ‘over-call’ a game. If you’re doing a broadcast with video, you don’t have to talk constantly because the audience can see what is happening. Let the game flow and fill in the blanks where needed. You don’t want to talk over a key moment in a game because you’re telling a story, but that story or piece of random information can be helpful during a slow moment in the game, such as the final few minutes of a game with a lopsided score.
  3. “Say what you know – Play-by-play announcers are counted on to ‘paint the picture’ for the audience. It’s great when you have interesting tidbits on where a player grew up or how many years a team has been running a certain offense, but chances are, you may not have all of that info. If you don’t, it’s best to stick to the knowledge you do have about the game, a team or player and not to stray too far into guesswork. If you do, you risk showing the audience your lack of preparation by making incorrect statements.
  4. “Use your emotions properly – Sports fans love a play-by-play announcer to bring passion to the game and add some bravado, but the key is knowing when to add excitement to the call and when to reel it in. Excitement should build in your voice if a team is coming close to scoring the winning touchdown, but dial back on the P.A.T. in the first quarter. Your voice should follow the ebb and flow of the game.
  5. “Don’t be sorry, fake it till you make it – At some point you’re going to slip up during a broadcast whether you mispronounce a name, give the wrong score or identify the wrong player. You’ll know when it happens and your producer may know when it happens, but chances are the audience didn’t notice. That’s why you should never spend too much time worrying about a mistake; usually you won’t have time to. You certainly wouldn’t want to bring added attention to it. . . . just correct yourself and move on as if nothing happened. We all make mistakes."
     But perhaps the best advice I can give concerning sports telecasting to those who control the airwaves and the programming is: Hire the right people, give them right marching orders, and, above all, put yourselves in the viewers' seats. Make sure that what you see and hear is what will keep you and the sports fans interested in and satisfied with the telecast. One last thing: The hell with sponsors, it’s the viewers who really matter! Without viewers, there will ultimately be no sponsors.


  1. What I Hate Most About Today’s TV, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu; Article 237, 6 October 2015.
  2. Inundated With Commercials, Telemarketing Calls and Spam, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu; Article 274, 8 December 2016.
  3. Spare Me All Those Irrelevant Statistics!, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu; Article 326, 8 June 2018.
  4. The Worst Announcers in Sports, Paul Grosssinger,, 12 August 2012.
  5. 5 Tips for Announcers: Advice to live by behind the mic, Chris Dubiel, School Video News, Accessed 5 July 2015.


  12 July 2018 {Article 329; Whatever_63}    
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