Monthly Archives: November 2012

9-Year-Old Female Football Player Breaking Barriers


Sam Gordon has taken the Internet and the media by storm in the past few weeks. The 9-year-old made waves with a YouTube video featuring her highlights as a running back in an all boys league. These include 35 touchdowns, 65 tackles, and over 2,000 rushing yards. Since the video went viral, Sam has had thousands of articles written about her and appeared on “Good Morning America” and “SportsCenter.”

In a sports world typically dominated by males, Sam just might be breaking some barriers. As the article “Sam Gordon, Girl Football Player, Stars In Ridiculous Highlight Reel” in the Huffington Post noted, most girl football players have been limited to the position of kicker. Sam, however, is challenging gender roles in a big way. Her talent could be a big step in gaining more ground for equality in sports and its media coverage.

Her interview on “Sportscenter” was conducted in an impressive way. Host Hannah Storm asked Sam interesting and appropriate questions, even prompting Sam to say she hopes girls will get to play in the NFL one day. I was surprised ESPN featured Sam’s story in such a positive way, encouraging her to continue to play football and praising her as role model for other girls.

Not everyone agrees with Sam being allowed to play football. The article “Nine-Year-Old Girl Sam Gordon Shredding Defenses to the Tune of 25 Touchdowns” by Eric Adelson on Yahoo Sports questions Sam’s safety. He writes, “Is it appropriate? This is a 9-year-old girl playing against bigger, stronger boys.” He later goes on to say, “A lot of people won’t accept a 9-year-old girl playing tackle football, and perhaps with good reason.”

There are still many hurdles to girls being fully accepted in sports and achieving equal coverage in the media. Girls such as Sam Gordon are helping to pave the way. One day, we just may see girls like Sam highlighted regularly on “Sportscenter.”

What’s His Name?


Broadcasters pronouncing a name incorrectly is a pet peeve of mine. Some names are hard to figure out, but, regardless, it is still unacceptable for announcers to mispronounce names on national TV. There is no reason why they can’t find out the correct way to say a player’s name from one of the other hundreds of people working the game.

A recent occurrence of this was during a quarterfinal game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (College Basketball) between Akron and Oklahoma State. Akron’s starting point guard, Alex Abreu, is a Puerto Rico native. On multiple occasions, the announcers pronounced his last name as Abreo instead of Abreu.  

I questioned why they struggled to correctly pronounce his name and came up with one potential reason. The two announcers for this game were former Wake Forest men’s basketball coach Dino Gaudio and ESPN announcer Doug Sherman. Because I’m not 100 percent sure which one of them were saying the name incorrectly, I came to the conclusion it was Gaudio due to inexperience as an announcer. I figured because Sherman is a professional he would not have a problem pronouncing players’ names. 

There is no guarantee my theory is correct, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. It is not acceptable for announcers to pronounce names incorrectly.

To the defense of Joe Buck


Joe Buck is Fox’s lead play-by-play announcer for their NFL and MLB coverage. His voice has been part of our listening sports soundtrack for some of the biggest events for the last decade. Buck has called every NFC Championship game since 2003, every World Series game since 2001, and has called Super Bowl’s 39, 42, and 45.

It is easy to say he is over-exposed to the general audience because of all of these top assignments he gets. He has also been criticized for coming off as a smug commentator who is above the games he calls. Others allege he only got his job because of his father, Jack Buck.

While those are all fair criticisms, I’m in the minority in actually liking Joe Buck on commentary.

Over the last few years, he has improved greatly on his level of excitement on calls. For example, in the Packers/Falcons playoff matchup two seasons ago, his call when Tramon Williams intercepted Matt Ryan for a touchdown, one knew from Buck’s tone of the call this play was the big turning point of game (and on their Super Bowl winning run). Another great call was DeSean Jackson’s 65-yard punt return for a walk-off touchdown against the Giants in 2010. But arguably his best call was in the 2011 World Series. David Freese’s walk-off homer led to his call originally made famous by his dad. It was even more special for Cardinals’ fans because the Buck family grew up in St. Louis and has called their games in the past.

Buck has the ability to make any game he calls sound important. Some announcers do not have the chops to have their voice match the tone of the event. This was especially true this year in watching the ALCS and NLCS. While Buck’s voice tone matched the level of importance the NLCS has, his counterpart (Ernie Johnson from TBS) did not have the chops to make the big calls in the ALCS.

I do not believe Buck is a smug commentator.  He has a dry sense of humor. But for those who understand it, he can be pretty entertaining.

Some believe Buck is overexposed and is involved in everything Fox Sports does. But that is not true at all. He is not involved with their college football, Nascar, soccer, or UFC coverage.

Also, who at Fox is actually better than Buck on their NFL and MLB on-air talent rosters? Their next tier of announcers is Kenny Albert, Thom Brennaman, Dick Stockton, Chris Myers, and Ron Pitts. While it is arguable Albert and Brennaman are pretty good and could be Fox’s number one announcers, they are not better than Buck.

Buck may not be the best announcer in sports, but when looking at what he has accomplished with the last few years, he may be the most improved announcer in sports media. There are very few announcers I would want calling big games and Joe Buck is one of them.

Commentator mocks athlete’s injury with knuckle pushup


The pregame show for the NBA TV game on Sunday night was poor.  The crew, Brent Barry and Steve Smith, did the show from the studio. The commentators lacked focus and were subpar in their game analysis.

The pregame coverage of the two teams started about a half an hour before tip-off. The first story about the game was a 10-minute piece where Ahmad Rashad sat down with Brandon Roy.  The story was very well done covering new issues with Roy’s comeback to the NBA.  It featured highlights from his last game as well as highlights from this year’s preseason.

After that story, the guys in the studio talked about the Toronto Raptors and what they did offensively in their first game.  Barry and Smith used a large touch screen to show what the team was trying to do on offense.

After talking of the Raptors and their first game, they focused on the injuries to Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. Barry even did a knuckle push-up in studio to mock Kevin Love’s injury (Love reportedly broke his hand while doing knuckle push-ups).  It was inappropriate and over-the-top for Barry to do. 

The pregame show also did a very poor job introducing the game.  There were no graphics of the starting line-ups or team statistics.  The crews just sent you directly to the game where the players were lining up for tip-off.  The viewer did not know who the starters were or any pre-game statistics.

Media goes into uproar after NYC Marathon called


The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was one that left the Northeastern part of the U.S. in recovery mode. Many sporting events were impacted by Sandy’s aftermath, including the prestigious New York City Marathon.

Officials planned to continue with the marathon until New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it off, which sent an uproar throughout the media and social network sites.

Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith of ESPN First Take weighed in on the pros and cons of canceling the race.

Smith questioned having tens of thousands of people running through streets in a city where thousands of people don’t have power or even drinking water. Smith also provided how they would be using generators for some of the tents during the race and how it would be extremely disrespectful to do when so many have no power.

Bayless agreed with everything Smith said, but he thought the race should continue as scheduled because of how many runners will be flocking to the NYC area. He argued the money participants would bring to the city could have helped generate recovery funds. Bayless also argued the cancelation would hurt the runners who have been training for months.

Bloomberg later made an announcement the NYC Marathon would be postponed due to public outcry.

I believe it was the right choice, but I was pleased when Bayless offered his opinion on why the race should continue when the majority of analysts on sport media were very much against it. 

NBA announcers focus on ‘same faces, new places’


Championship caliber teams, rookies, injuries, Kobe, and LeBron … These are all popular subjects during the beginning of every NBA season.

However, this year the various moves and trades seem to be the topic of discussion around the league. From the pre and post-game shows of the opening night games to the daily ESPN shows, anywhere the NBA is being talked about, all the offseason moves are leading the discussions.

The nationally televised opening night games were: Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Lakers. All four of these teams made some big personnel changes prior to the beginning of the season so both broadcasts were full of conversations and comments on that topic.

During both pre-game shows, analysts spent a lot of time discussing how the new players were going to fit in with their new teams and how they got there. Specifically before the Celtics vs. Heat game, they commented on how strange it was to see former Celtic Ray Allen playing in a Heat jersey against the team he just left in free agency.

Because the games were back-to-back on TNT, they shared a post-game show centered on analyzing how the teams looked in their first game together. A good portion of the discussion about the Mavericks vs. Lakers game focused on how the Lakers didn’t seem to be gelling together with their new team and offensive scheme. This conversation overshadowed how well the Mavericks played without their best player in Dirk Nowitzki, which was only mentioned very briefly.

In the two days since those opening games, NBA conversations continue to revolve around “same faces, new places.” Whether it’s discussing the playoff hopes James Harden has brought to the Houston Rockets or how well Deron Williams and Joe Johnson will play together in Brooklyn, every single one of the non sport-specific ESPN shows have been discussing NBA roster changes.  Pardon the Interruption, SportsCenter, and First Take all discussed the Lakers disappointing 0-2 start and made suggestions as to what they need to do to get their new all-star cast to work together.

Heat and Celtics Match Up


Ray Allen was the main topic of conversation this week as the Boston Celtics took on the Miami Heat in a much-anticipated matchup. The announcers focused a lot on the negative side of the Allen trade. They tried to emphasize the drama that surrounded Allen and Kevin Garnett.

When the trade first took place, Kevin Garnett spoke vocally about his displeasure with the choice Allen made. Both announcers made sure to quote what was said multiple times throughout the game. Kevin Garnett said things such as,  “I lost Ray Allen’s phone number. “ And, “Me and Ray Allen are no longer friends.”

When they focused on this, I feel as though they forget the NBA is a business and people leave teams all the time. It was said Allen left the team because he and Rajon Rondo did not get along. At this point in Allen’s career, he is too old to deal with Rondo’s childish antics.

At the half time show, the panel was discussing the Allen to Miami Heat move. They agreed with the negative comments Garnett made and brushed it off as “just Kevin Garnett being Kevin Garnett.”

They even went on to compare this to the Shaq and Kobe confrontation. This is bringing up the past. Why bring up something that brought so much negative affect on the game of basketball? They then went on to say Allen went to the enemy team and last year, while they were playing in the playoffs, Allen wanted to be on the Heat instead of the Celtics.

The announcers also mocked the famous controversial LeBron James quote, “I have decided to take my talents to South Beach.”  They said Allen also decided to take his talents to Miami. This upset me as it seemed they used James’ quote to cause even bigger problems for Allen.

One of the game announcers was biased toward the Heat. He praised them and talked about how they improved so much. He talked about the bench and how players would help the team this year.

This same announcer also made personal appeal about James. He talked about how LeBron has less pressure on him this year; How LeBron is trying to shoot fewer threes and can focus more on attacking the rim.  He acted like James was on the court by himself. James is a major part of the team, but he is not the only one on the team.

Announcers should focus more on the game and not the negative aspects of what happens off the court or in the past.