Being a football announcer is an every person occupation. I say that because most people that watch TV football announcers think they could do it as well or better than most of the professionals. In my case, they are most likely correct. I have been privileged to broadcast high school and college football on Buckeye, BCSN and ESPN 3 for over 22 years now. I also have taught broadcasting for many years at St. John’s high school and at Adrian College.
The same themed statement seems to play out, pun intended, on the TV broadcast landscape. Whether it is a student in class or the man on the street who talks about broadcasters, most folks feel that they could do it as well or better than the professionals. It definitely is not an easy profession. It is tremendous fun, but not simple or easy.
Any TV broadcaster that makes it look easy is doing an outstanding job because, in reality, it is difficult. John Madden made it look very easy. He was fantastic and I think part of the reason he was so fantastic is that he was authentic. He was being himself, no schtick. All the wild hand gestures and booms and bangs were totally John.
I think what happens to many TV sports announcers today is that they get overexposed. Joe Buck is a skilled broadcaster but he is on TV a lot, especially for the big games. When people see someone enough on TV they get tired of their voice, the way they look, their sayings their gestures.
Troy Aikmen gets criticized at times because people think he favors the Cowboys. Kirk Herbstreit gets hammered by Michigan fans who think that he favors Ohio State in any broadcast because he played QB for them. However, many Ohio State people feel he is too critical of the Buckeyes. He even had to move his family out of Columbus because of threats he received for just doing a football broadcast.
Do you see a pattern here? No matter what an announcer does in broadcasting, except for John Madden who faced criticism in his early years before he became a legend, they are going to hear from football fans that think they could do it better.
During Monday Night Football when Howard Cosell was broadcasting, there were pubs all across America that let people throw a brick through an old TV set when Howard came on the Monday night screen.
So next time you become upset with a TV sports broadcaster, turn the sound down on the game. Grab a pen and use it as a mic prop and try to do some play-by-play or color on the game you are watching. While you do that, record your audio on your cell phone and then play it back. You might be surprised by what comes out of your mouth.
Broadcasting is an INCREDIBLE occupation but it is NOT … EASY.
Tom Cole is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Taylor Automotive Family and teaches broadcasting at St. John’s Jesuit and Adrian College