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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Basketball and Its Announcers

I think football coverage on television is much better than basketball coverage. Why? The answer is that football's version has evolved with a real dedication to making sure the viewer knows what's going on at all moments. The statistics are splendid in the mini-scoreboard that adorns the screen, and (how do they do it?) lines visible only on television are drawn on the field showing how far the ball must travel for the next first down. Whenever something of any moment happens—injured player, penalty, score, time out—the announcers discuss the matter to make sure we know all important details, and certainly every play is analyzed carefully (and most are even replayed). It's rare when something important goes unnoticed or undiscussed.

Magical Screen Info: 2nd and 7
Basketball, annoyingly, has evolved so that the TV audience is constantly guessing about important matters while the announcers jabber on about everything except the game. "His mother is here tonight!" one announcer will babble happily as the camera pans to the excited woman in the stands, "and she gave her son his first basketball when he was in his crib!" Meanwhile a player is being ejected from the game for some misstep never described.

When a player comes up to shoot a foul shot, what is the one statistic everyone cares about? It's what is this player's completion percentage? Many a game has depended on who is at the foul line and how good he is. But nine times out of ten the graphic on the TV screen doesn't tell us this, and the announcers are busy talking about the best place in town to get a good steak. It's maddening, particularly when in this computer age it would be a small matter to routinely post such information every time the ref bounces the ball to the shooter. I think Coach Bobby Knight and Brent Musberger (pictured below) are among the best basketball announcers on the air, but they are wretched at reporting what's going on in the game, and they should ashamed anyone says that.

How Much Time's Left on the Clock?
The truth is that the spectators at the game have access to more useful information than do the fans at home. The reason is twofold: (1) the announcer on the loudspeaker is paying attention to what the crowd wants to hear ("Foul on Johnson, his second"), and (2) live viewers can see a scoreboard containing scads of useful information. Whenever a foul's committed, I myself always desire knowledge of two things: (1) how many fouls has this particular miscreant incurred and (2) what is the total number of team fouls. The local announcer always tells the crowd this much. Knight and Musberger and their many cohorts rarely do. Also it's frustrating how often I wonder how much time is left on the shot clock. The statistical crawl across the bottom of the TV screen apparently thinks this info will only be important to me when the clock nears ten seconds. That's wrong. I always want access to that information; let me decide how much I care. Damn it, just give it to me! The crowd at the event knows because they can actually see the shot clock counting down both on the event scoreboard and on the display near the hoop itself (placed so the players can view it, but only occasionally visible to those watching on TV).

None of this is rocket science. Give me authority over basketball programming and it wouldn't take me five minutes to place orders solving all these problems.

This is the 21st century. I'm a basketball fan. Let me know what's going on.
Related Post:
" Football Advice for Coach Jim Tressel," October 23, 2010
"Popourri #1," November 15, 2011 (Chicago Cubs Fan)
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

1 comment:

  1. This is why, I think, my husband turns the sound down and turns on the radio!