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Sportscasters put spotlight on themselves, not on sports

Chris McGrady | Thursday, November 8, 2007

Oh, ESPN, how far you have fallen.

It used to be that ESPN was my favorite channel – the perfect oasis for any rabid sports fan. But these days, ESPN is about as entertaining as a ball of lint.

The problem starts with the sportscasters. They make a joke-like remark about everything they comment on. I say joke-like because, well, it’s meant to be a joke but it’s missing that one key element – humor.

Listening to the sportscasters on ESPN is like listening to a group of over-hyped teenagers battle it out to see who can make the cute girl in class laugh. With ridiculous puns, analogies and broad and baseless sweeping statements, ESPN has ruined its image in my mind.

Every telecast, show and piece is so overblown that I can hardly stand it. The other night on SportsCenter, ESPN’s centerpiece show, host Stuart Scott had a freelance, beat poetry intro. Did you catch that? Poetry.

Then there is Chris Berman. This guy was great. He has received three awards for best sportscaster. Unfortunately, the most recent was about 20 years ago. Now he is most famous for his annoying sounds. His signature noise is something he makes when an athlete (usually a football player) jukes another player. It goes something like this: WHOP! Think high-pitched, like a flamingo in heat. Do it with me – WHOP! It’s mildly entertaining – WHOP! – until you have – WHOP! – heard it for the – WHOP! – 20th – WHOP! – time. Get my drift?

How lame is ESPN now? Well, they gave Keyshawn Johnson a microphone and said, “Here, tell the world what you think.” Listening to Keyshawn is about as enlightening as a brain freeze. I think I will just save myself the time and pack my head in ice, thank you very much.

Then there are the blowhards who attack debates like freight trains – Michael Wilbon and Mark May. Despite being Notre Dame haters from the word go (save a seat at that table for writer Pat Forde), these guys are just annoying and as predictable as Britney Spears’ next meltdown. Ugh.

There are a few sportscasters on ESPN I do like – Ron Jaworski, Mark Schlereth and Lou Holtz (of course) – but these gems are few and far between. The biggest problem with ESPN is that most of the people on the network feel they have become bigger than the sport themselves. It has stopped being about the game or the result, but rather who can make the most ridiculous statement and drive the ratings up the highest.

I more or less avoid ESPN now. I’ll tune in if it is carrying a sporting event that I want to watch and can’t see elsewhere, but otherwise, consider me a lost customer. Besides, if I want to see two blowhards go at it in a boring debate, Election 2008 is just around the corner.

Contact Chris McGrady at cmcgrad1@nd.edu

The views expressed in Scene and Heard are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.