Monthly Archives: November 2011

LaMont-Bentley Duo Keeps Viewers ‘Into the Game’


The sports broadcast I chose to analyze was the Wednesday night Mid-American Conference football matchup between Bowling Green State University and Ohio University, which occurred on November 16. The commentators for this event were Dave LaMont and Ray Bentley. To start out the coverage, the broadcasters emphasized the importance of the impact players for each team. They seemed very knowledgeable when speaking about each of these impact players, as they backed up their opinion with stunning stats that were some of the best in the nation. 

In addition, they informed viewers of the Bowling Green offensive line starting lineup change. Also, the MAC overall standings were shown, as well as a complete explanation of what is at stake in this game for both teams. Occasional “In Game Updates” of the Miami (Ohio)/Western Michigan matchup were shown, since the outcome of that game made a difference in the MAC West Conference race. Overall, they gave a great brief introduction to the matchup. Throughout the game, the commentators showed equal enthusiasm for both teams when explosive plays occurred. They commented on almost every play instead of drawing out unnecessary conversation about previous plays or getting off-topic. This keeps the viewers interested, enthused, and into the competition. The commentators were also very well informed on the style of play of both teams. They explained how Ohio University adopted their hurry-up offense from Troy University.

Another unique aspect of telecast was the showcase of the Stroh Center. This is the brand new $30 million athletic facility on the campus of BGSU. A clip of the YouTube sensation, “Stroh Center Rap” was shown, which showcases the interior of the facility as well as recognizes the multi-million dollar donors. A live interview with the star of the video, BGSU student/rapper Mikey “Rosco” Blair, was conducted by the commentators in the media box. During this interview, viewers were encouraged to watch the full clip of the video on YouTube (which currently exceeds 121,000 hits), as well as follow the young rapper on Twitter. In addition, footage of Dick Maxwell’s lecture that occurred in the Sport Media class Tuesday night was shown.  LaMont and Bentley followed this footage by saying how honored they felt to be a part of the lecture and in the presence of a prestigious member of sport media. I thought it was excellent to see aspects of our campus, student talent, and Sport Management program at BGSU showcased on national television.

Although this was a great telecast, there were a few minor mishaps. In the first half, the commentators kept conversing as the program went to a commercial break, as if the commercial took them by surprise. In addition, there was numerous cut outs of the referee microphone, which caused brief confusion in penalty clarifications. Also, when the Stroh Center was first shown, one of the sportscasters said “the official opening of the 30 million dollar facility will be tomorrow night with a women’s basketball game against Michigan State.” However, this scenario is totally false, as the volleyball and men’s basketball teams have played in the arena; not to mention the women’s basketball team plays Purdue not Michigan State. However, after the next commercial break, the commentator corrected himself saying that the facility had already been used.

Overall, I was very impressed with the way the game was broadcasted. Normally mid-major college football games are broadcasted by no-name sportscasters, and mediocre work is expected. However, both men had a very enthusiastic tone of voice during the whole game, which keeps viewers excited and “into the game.” Being very well informed of both teams, as well as incorporating unique aspects to the telecast made it very easy for viewers to stay tuned in, which is a sportscaster’s main goal.

Boxing Announcers are ‘hardest working broadcasters’


Joe Frazier passed away last week. He won boxing gold for his country at the 1964 Olympics and then had a hallmark career as a heavyweight champion. Back in the day when the World Series was probably the biggest annual sports event on television and Super Bowl Sunday had not yet achieved its status as a national holiday, Smokin’ Joe was one of the most famous American athletes of his time. Yet it is very likely that many Americans would not even recognize him on the street because big boxing matches were big radio events. If shown on television at all, matches, even as recently as the 1970’s, were often broadcast days or weeks later, usually on ABC’s wonderful anthology show, Wide World of Sports. Sometimes, fans could pay the price and see a fight live in selected movie theaters. However, the live events were broadcast to most everyone via radio, and the announcers were fabulous.

Consider that most play-by-play announcers have time to gather their thoughts in-between plays, pitches, passes, hits, shots, and attempts. Boxing announcers do not call play-by-play, they call blow-by-blow; and since boxing action is so quick most of the time, the announcers appeared to be the hardest working broadcasters in all of sport. If they were good at it, they painted a ringside picture for listeners with their choice of language and their amazing cadence.

Howard Cosell is probably the most famous boxing announcer associated with Frazier’s era. Supposedly, Cosell was hated by most of his colleagues as well as by most sports fans, but he was one of the most identifiable boxing broadcasters mainly because he seemed to have good access to Muhammad Ali. Ali used to say that he “made” Cosell and Cosell used to say that he “made” Ali. Commentators focusing on Frazier’s passing speculate that Frazier and Ali made each other. Arguments can be made for all of the above theories, but the bottom line is that radio made them all.

Commentators Play Favorites in BGSU v. Georgia Hoops


As a Bowling Green State University student, a basketball fan, and a volunteer team manager, I had no choice but to take a homework break to watch this game on my Xbox since ESPN3 isn’t offered on campus. In addition to realizing how well the team exceeded expectations, keeping up with the talented and athletic Bulldogs and only losing the game by a single digit margin, I also paid close attention to the two commentators. Throughout the entire game, from start to finish, all of their comments favored Georgia. It’s not that they were doing this on purpose, but it seems like a lot of commentators and analysts play favorites without even thinking about it. It is basically an instinct for them.

The announcers seemed surprised by how well BG was playing. It was like they expected the worst at all times. At one point in the first half, in a shocked voice, an announcer said, “Bowling Green is actually out rebounding Georgia.” There was a play where BG’s Scott Thomas stole an outlet pass and the announcer said, “Somehow Thomas came up with the ball.” The fact of the matter is that the pass hit him directly in the chest and he did what any other college basketball would, grabbed it and tried to create a scoring opportunity. In addition, the announcers acted like losing the game would not be that big of a deal for BG. They acted as if losing the game would not count against their record just because they are a mid-major conference team.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming announcers for their comments favoring the “better” teams in sports. As I said before, it’s almost like an instinct for them and they cannot help but seem surprised when the underdogs are doing well. They are just simply expecting one thing and reacting how we all react when we are surprised by something.

Michaels and Collinsworth Keep Audience ‘Glued’ to TV


Whenever the New England Patriots and New York Jets square off in a primetime game such as the one Sunday night, there are sure to be a lot of fireworks. The commentators for Sunday night were the usual tandem of the great Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth with Michelle Tafoya doing the on-field reporting. The entire broadcast from pre-game to halftime to the final whistle was an excellent broadcast, in my opinion, because of how positive Michaels and Collinsworth are for the duration of game.

Michaels is one of the most influential broadcasters of all time. He is also one of the most recognizable because of the most famous Olympic games ever, the 1980 USA Hockey team victory over the Soviet Union. For as long as Michaels has been broadcasting, he still shows the same type of enthusiasm and knowledge into every broadcast he does. While I was watching the game studying his language and timing after each play, what stands out to me is how well he does his commentary in a business-like fashion.

During the pre-game, Michaels gives great insight on the major story lines going into the game such as: Tom Brady and the Patriots last-ranked defense, the Jets being on a hot streak, and an array of facts and statistics involving the game. During pre-game commentary, Michaels and Collinsworth went through the years of the Jets and Patriots rivalry dating back to when Bill Parcells was with the Pats, the beginning of the Tom Brady era, the controversial ‘Spygate’ with Bill Belichick, and the recent Jets victory over the Patriots in last year’s playoffs. Even if you are not a fan of football and did not know any history about the Jets and Patriots, the broadcast at least showed you into the past and present for the simplest of football fans to gain knowledge.

Sunday Night Football’s halftime presentations are always watchable because the commentators go through the earlier action of the day, talk about some of the main story lines and Bob Costas has a special presentation. This night, the special presentation was on the Chicago Bears’ Devin Hester who added another punt return TD, his 12th, adding to his NFL record.

The game ended with a blowout in the Patriots favor and, in doing so, snapped the Jets three-game win streak. The Patriots won 37-16. Even though, at the very end, the game was getting out of hand and seemingly unwatchable, Michaels and Collinsworth did an excellent job keeping the audience glued to the television.

Unlikely Duo of Breen and Burke Works for College Hoops


Two commentators were in positions they are not used to being in for Friday night’s game between Belmont and Duke on ESPNU, the season opener for both teams. Mike Breen called the play-by-play for this game. Breen, an NBA commentator for ESPN, stepped into the college basketball world Friday with the NBA Lockout still looming over professional basketball. However, the change of scenery didn’t affect Breen as he called a great game.

Doris Burke also found herself in a different position. She has been seen on ESPN doing play-by-play and sideline reporting for college football and college basketball games. Friday, she served as color commentator alongside Breen. The analysis for Friday’s game was the best I have ever seen out of Burke. She was very thorough in every analysis, adding how certain players have improved from last year. Speaking with comfort and confidence, it seemed as if this was a natural position for Burke. I think the sport of college basketball and the position of color analyst is the right position for Doris Burke. Remembering games where she was play-by-play for college football, I felt as if she seemed out of position. She fits better in an analyst role whether it is in the booth or on the sidelines.

On the production side, ESPNU highlighted Duke Coach Mike Krzyzweski inching closer to Bob Knight’s record of career wins (902). During the telecast, flashbacks of monumental Krzyzweski wins were shown; moreover, a member of the United States military mentioned how Coach K has inspired his leadership techniques. This piece fit perfect with Coach K being a former point guard at Army along with Friday being Veterans’ Day. Also, to make the production better, I noticed ESPN has added a “Bonus” section to its scoreboard under each team’s score. This brand new feature will be used to notify viewers when each team is in the penalty to shoot free throws on non-shooting fouls.

Duke, ranked 6th in the nation on the AP poll to start the season, pulled off a close 77-76 victory over a scrappy Belmont team who will be one of the top mid-major teams in the nation this year. The Blue Devils victory gives Coach K win number 901 in his career; he is now one victory away from tying his former coach, Bob Knight, for the career win mark in Division I Men’s college basketball. The Coach K storyline along with two commentators who stepped into different roles excelled to make the broadcast a success.

Breeders’ Cup Classic


The commentary for the Breeders Cup was spot-on and even exceeded my expectations for the telecast.  The team of Joe Tessitore, Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey did a great job setting the stage for the race as well as making you feel like you were at Church Hill Downs. The commentators made the event seem historical and classy like horse racing should be.

I am not a huge horse racing fan, but I tune in for the Triple Crown races. So, my knowledge for horse racing is very limited.  That makes the job for the commentator more difficult because the majority of the audience must be informed of the basics of horse racing compared to an NFL game were most of the audience is very familiar with the sport.  The commentators did a great job of informing you of how long the race is and what course conditions can do to affect the race. 

The broadcast also had great personal stories about the jockeys.  The biggest story was the jockey of Game on Dude, Chantal Sutherland.  She was trying to become the first female jockey to win the Breeder’s Cup and the commentators did a great job framing the story for the audience.

Then came the race. If you have ever seen a horse race, you know the horses change place constantly and it is very hard to tell what is going on. The telecast did a great job helping the audience know what is going on by having a helpful graphic at the bottom showing who was in first, second and third. Along with the graphic, Tessitore added to the excitement and said the horses’ names with what place they were in and said who was winning, in order, quickly. For example, he would say, “Game on Dude, Game on Dude,” followed by, “Drosselmeyer, Drosselmeyer making a move, Drosselmeyer!”. That style of commentary made me more excited and kept me informed about the race.

At the end of the race, Drosselmeyer barely beat out Game on Dude and the jockeys turned out to have dated, which was a interesting fact that they provided.  The post-game coverage was good, reporters on horse caught up to the winner and runners-up right after the race to get their reactions.

The broadcast for the Breeders Cup Classic did a great job at informing the audience about horse racing, making the race exciting and keeping its historical feel.

‘Skip Tebow’ Gets the Job Done


Any sports fan who thinks of ESPN sport analyst Skip Bayless immediately thinks of his “against the grain” stubborn persona he displays so well during his debates on ESPN’s First Take. Although some of his arguments are biased when he is asked to debate certain topics, Skip is one of the most entertaining sport analysts.

Say what you want about the man’s outlook on sports, but the way he prepares himself for his job every day is commendable. Skip does his research every night by studying games, contacting outside sources, outlining his debate points, and practicing his screen presence before each and every show he participates in. Not to mention his inherent skill to be able to keep the audience engaged. Skip’s screen presence during every show of First Take is always very entertaining to watch. Whether he is taking up the challenge of debating a famous athlete he has once criticized publicly face-to-face or trying his hardest to trump Stephen A. Smith, another very entertaining and credible ESPN sport analyst, Skip is always willing to put on a show and give his audience exactly what they are looking for.

As I have stated before, to add to Skip’s effective screen presence, he also takes his job very serious, which is something I respect. The preparation and research he puts into every topic he talks about always shows its shining face. For instance, Skip is a staunch supporter of Tim Tebow no matter how much flak he takes from other analysts for it. He stands behind Tebow through thick and thin just like any other Tebow fan would. But, the difference between he and others who love the rookie quarterback is that he deconstructs his performances (both good and bad) and bases his support from the evidence he has come up with. Skip makes great points about all of Tebow’s 4th quarter performances that have either brought his team wins or put them in great position to get the job done. I also can respect Skip’s loyalty to the statements he makes. If Skip makes a mistake, he will stand by that and stand corrected, which believe it or not is not easy to do in front of the masses of sports fans who tune in to his show on a regular basis.

Skip may not think like a typical sports analyst and he also may not approach most topics the same way, but isn’t that the reason why we are so intrigued to hear what he has to say? Without people like Skip, who bring entertainment and share a different perspective on a situation instead of the sugar-coated norm, sports talk would simply be plain and vanilla to listen to. In other words, as long as he knows how to put on a show, “Skip Tebow” is alright with me.

Big Ten Commentator Showed Bias


The game coverage consisted of three commentators, one of which was on the field. Danielle Slaton covered the on-field reporting and usually commented on coach reactions and player injury reports. It was obvious she could listen to the broadcast in the booth as they asked her to comment a few times without actually cutting to her.

The camera angle of the majority of the game covered a 1/4 of the field at a time. Based on the observation of the camera views, there must have been at least three cameras present. The staff had good transitional camera cuts to the players during a pause in play. The cameras never cut to the audience and were all placed on the same side of the venue. It was obvious the cameras were not of the best quality.

The commentators gave more background of each team and player rather than the actual activities of the game. If you were to view a Champions League game, you would hear more play-by-play announcing. Class rank was said over and over again about each player. They were really concerned with distinguishing what year in school each player was.

Broadcaster Dan Kelly obviously seemed to side with Penn State. He got more excited when they were in the box compared to Minnesota. He used the phrases like, “Minnesota had their work cut out for them and that is where the problem is for Minnesota.” He took a liking to athletes Taylor Schram and Maya Hayes from Penn State. He gave them the most attention on ball touches, more so than others. His voice elevated several times when Schram had the ball even if she was not in the scoring opportunity. Minnesota was in the box several times and never got consistent support from the commentators.

I saw numerous Big Ten logos throughout the facility and one clearly marked on the field. I think the Big Ten Network did a great job advertising their brand.

Tuesday Telecast is On-point


On the day after Halloween, Northern Illinois and Toledo gave viewers a chance to see the highest scoring non-overtime game in Mid-American Conference history. Northern Illinois scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds to go to prevail over Toledo 63-60 in a game where both teams combined for 123 points, 1,124 yards from scrimmage, eight lead changes, and a remarkable 17 touchdowns.

Dave Lamont and former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown were the play-by-play announcers for the night and they did a great job and captured the excitement that occurred in Toledo, Ohio. College Football Primetime on Tuesday nights typically is reserved for small market, mid-major match-ups which don’t normally receive national exposure. It is their chance to be on ESPN. I personally enjoy watching MAC football games because of the small cities they come from and how the city is captured as part of the broadcasts. In the Halloween spirit, ESPN had cameras go in some haunted houses at the Lucas County fairgrounds and throughout the game viewers saw different footage of various Halloween themes.Lamont and Brown did a great job incorporating some Halloween words into game action.

For the majority of the game, the announcers’ primary player they featured was receiver Eric Page from Toledo, who was arguably the best player on the field. I think when viewers see a Tuesday night college football game on, they either watch because of a big-time matchup or a big-time player. Eric Page was the main reason people tuned in to watch NIU and Toledo. I did not see anything wrong with this because he was the most exciting and top player in the game. Tim Brown talked about Page’s ability to play in the NFL and whenever Page made a great play, he gave insight into why Page’s footwork, speed, or cutting ability was good enough for the NFL. I think one of the reasons Tim Brown was doing the broadcast was to give viewers his insight and expert opinion on Eric Page.

Dave Lamont really finished the broadcast of the game with some great lines that made you look back at the game. His final line of the night came after he rattled off the numbers from the game and finished with, “Goodnight from Toledo” which was a great way to end the broadcast for a Tuesday Night college football game, in my opinion.