Saturday, November 18, 2006

The annals of sports broadcasting

If you watched the USC-Cal game on the TV tonight, you noticed that color commentator Paul McGuire was stationed outdoors, on the rolling, elevated camera cart that follows the progress of the ball up and down the sideline.

McGuire was seated next to a cameraman, dressed in a coat and tie. They gave him a microphone with which to communicate to his colleagues "in the booth."

Judging from the occassional between-play banter between McGuire and fellow announcers Bob Griese and Bob Nessler, there's been some teasing aimed at McGuire over his new geographical assignment, which, of course, gives him no added advantage so far as football announcing is concerned and only serves to make him an odd spectacle, especially to the people who actually attend the game (as opposed to the millions viewing on TV.)

Clearly, ABC executives hope that placing McGuire on the field, but atop a tall mobile camera cart, will serve a two-fold purpose: it will cut down on his inane observations from the press box and prevent him from conducting one of those dreadful sideline interviews that football broadcasts insist on forcing down the throats of the football viewing public.

I completely understand this reasoning because McGuire is just an awful football announcer. He adds no insight to the game, even to the most casual of fans, and is the master of the obvious.

Even so, I could help but feel bad for the guy and the humiliation to which ABC is subjecting him. In his day, he was a heckuva player. (See the Wikipedia entry on him if you're so inclined)

Now he's sitting outdoors, probably some 30 or 40 feet off the ground, exposed to the elements and subject to the catcalls and harassment of the spectators, most of whom are drunk.

This is no way to treat a charter member of the American Football League, one of the few players to compete in each of the 10 years of that noble league (which, of course, gave us the Houston Oilers, may they rest in peace.)

But apparently it's what ABC does when it puts its older, doddering announcers out to pasture.

It's a cruel world.

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