Saturday, June 7, 2008

Questioning Local Voices over National Airwaves

Unlike a lot of sports fans, I’ve always admired passion in announcing. If I am a fan, give me the most homerific local voice I can hear. Make the announcer the second coming of Harry Caray. I want a voice that is excited when I am excited, annoyed when I am annoyed, and depressed when I am depressed.

However, like the old McDonald’s McDLT, I want to keep my local voices local and my national voices national.

One of my biggest gripes against national sports broadcasts is the use of announcers with affiliation to one of the teams in the telecast. My latest example, although I probably shouldn’t complain, is ESPN’s use of Eduardo Perez in the NCAA Super Regional baseball tournament broadcast of Florida State versus Wichita State (currently on as I write this). Perez, for those not up on their Noles’ baseball history, played for Florida State from 1989 to 1991 before getting drafted and spending 13 years in the big leagues. So he is a bit of a legend in Tallahassee.

Unfortunately, Perez, despite trying to be as unbiased as possible, can’t help but show his true colors. Throughout the broadcast, he has pointed out some of the little nuances in the crowd, such as fans who have been around since his day; talked about FSU head coach Mike Martin’s historical strategy; and discussed some of the difficulties of playing at Dick Howser Stadium. Individually, none of these mentions are a mortal sin, but together they are more the subjects of a guest star in the booth, not a supposedly unbiased color man.

Fox Sports, especially their baseball coverage, may be the absolute worst at having regionally biased announcers broadcast the teams they are familiar with. From 1999 to 2001, Tim McCarver announced the Yankees during the season and then provided national coverage while the Yankees competed for their World Series titles. Not to be outdone, ESPN also suffers from a conflict of interest on the pro level when Jon Miller, who I think is one of the best, calls Giants’ games. Although I think he rarely falls victim to bias, Miller has been the daily play-by-play guy for the Giants since 1997.

Needless to say, besides Perez, McCarver, and Miller, there are other announcers who I don’t think need to be announcing certain teams. With the plethora of available announcers and the easy availability of national travel, I don’t think it would be too difficult for national sports broadcast networks to coordinate their announcers and avoid potential biases.

P.S. On a related note, do ESPN, Fox, and other national broadcast stations make their employees take an oath of impartiality? Or do they just tell them to tone down their affiliations? And if an oath does exist, has anyone ever seen it?


MCBias said...

Hmm, that is a good question. It bothers me as well because nowadays home announcers tend to be a little less objective than they once were. (For example, teams like the Cavs and Knicks have gotten rid of announcers for not being hometown enough or for not pleasing the owner).

Jordi said...

MC Bias - For a great conflict in announcer/team history, see the latest tiff between the Seminoles and football announcer PT Willis. One of the better and most honest home team color guys I've heard, they fired him when he said they ran a "high school offense". Total shame.

Markus said...

Good Job! :)