Please keep in mind I originally wrote this post back in 2007…after yesterday and today…I think the basic premise still holds up pretty well unedited, unfiltered and unchanged…even after four years…
(Kudos to Dubsism for the “inspiration” to let fly with frustration of a “sporting” kind…please check out his post here. Well worth it.)
The first ten minutes of ESPN’s coverage of the U.S. Open this morning left me feeling as if someone snuck up directly behind me with a blackboard and scraped some chalk up and
down its length. My hair is still on end. My skin continues to tingle.
Why ESPN continues to trot the same person out to anchor major sporting events for almost thirty years now is beyond my comprehension, especially someone who is really only best known for making “witty” use of people’s names and generally acting like a
Barnum & Bailey clown. You would think ABC/ESPN/Disney would try to develop and refine some new talent, expand their broadcasting options…maybe even create a “voice” or “brand” for each and every sport they cover. In this day and age of high-stakes competition for personnel and the ongoing temptation of excessive compensation
having folks considering moving from one media outlet to the other in the blink of an eye, you would think the corporate powers-to-be would want to let some of their other announcers get a shot at managing some major events.
Don’t get me wrong…if they want Berman to continue to just be the face of their NFL coverage I think we can live with that. We’re already numb. God knows his comments are burnt into our brains from all the repetitive “commentary” each and every year that has gone by during his “reign.” At least there are a multitude of other faces/voices/announcers currently covering football on that “family of networks” who carve out their own, unique personality and still manage to stay on course talking up serious pigskin.
Football was actually ”covered” by Berman during those first ten minutes of the U.S. Open this morning…he spent half the time “setting up” the day’s action at Oakmont by talking about the Steelers…how the course plays like “Mean Joe Greene”…how the fans love their football but the Steelers’ season is still three months away. Made the U.S. Open sound like a kegger. 180 degrees from the reverence the other networks give Golf. Golf is probably the one sport that should sound a little more like a church service than a frat party but in Berman’s world everything and everyone is one big funny.
Shortly thereafter, the painful, predictable puns on the players’ names began…as it always does, whether he is covering the NFL, Major League Baseball…whatever. I mean, it’s been almost THIRTY YEARS now. I will commit to finding Berman amusing during his NFL coverage for the first TEN…but when is enough enough?
Then again, this is the same corporation who recently brought on Brent Musberger to cover everything Berman doesn’t. My God, he’s even doing NASCAR now. Another announcer who can’t stay off the air for more than a few minutes at a time. And if you think Berman gets to me, you can’t imagine what happens when I flick on the tube and am
faced with old Brent. Old…old Brent.
If I was a young announcer working at ABC/ESPN/Disney, I’d be looking to carve out my own piece of the world (Rich Eisen). Berman and Musberger will never, ever walk away…and it appears no one will be throwing out the hook from behind the curtain to reel either of them in.
Don’t get me wrong… all these broadcast networks feature their own ”security blankets” in
sports…think Jim Nantz at CBS and Bob Costas at NBC. But for me, the hazmat spill containment needs to start with Berman. Even Musberger periodically adds some intelligence to his reporting. With Berman, it’s all one big joke…and the laughter started to ring hollow a long, long time ago. Turning the sound down as I write this…
(for the record…yesterday it was thirteen minutes into ESPN’s in-depth, exclusive rights of U.S. Open coverage when he was congratulating the Boston Bruins…today it was three minutes into their coverage when he used “back…back…back”)