Sports Announcers, Like Their Hard News Brethren, Struggle With the Truth

August 2, 2010


When a witness testifies in a court of law he swears to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” This is because jurists of yore realized long ago that telling partial truths can be, and often is, every bit as much a falsehood as telling a flat-out lie. Saying that someone shot at you without disclosing that you shot at him first may be technically true, but is certainly not the whole truth. This failure to disclose has become standard operating procedure in the world of sports broadcasting. In order to drive ratings, announcers whore the product to ludicrous and sickening lengths.


This weekend, while broadcasting the Greenbrier Classic of the PGA Tour, CBS’s Jim Nantz was the pimp. I used to consider Nantz an able broadcaster and thought of him favorably until a few years ago at the Masters when he told me that it was a lovely day at Augusta and so implored me to “watch with a loved one.” Such saccharine palaver has now become a Nantz staple and this weekend was no exception. Nantz spent so much time sucking on D.A. Points’ shaft it was a wonder this middling golfer was able to pull his clubs out of the bag.


Points flirted with shooting a 59 on Saturday, and the CBS coverage was over-the-top, to say the least. The cameras lingered on Points ad nauseum even after he bogeyed the seventeenth hole to end any hopes he may have had to fire the magical number. Points did his part by playing slower than Jim Furyk on Quaaludes and milking every moment with over-exaggerated gestures for the cameras. Still Nantz and his fellow panderers–including perennial prick turned affable announcer Nick Faldo–gushed about this historic moment. What they downplayed, like all the talking heads on sports talk shows who dared not ruin this special moment with the facts, is that par on the Greenbrier course is 70…not 72, not even 71, but 70!! Thus a 59 is only 11-under…excellent to be sure, but a far cry from the 59’s shot by Al Geiberger, Chip Beck, and David Duval on par-72 courses. Moreover, a 59 on this course, this week, was almost pedestrian. J.B. Holmes had come close earlier in the day by shooting a 60, and indeed, on Sunday, Stuart Appleby would win the tournament by shooting the hallowed 59 number. On short courses softened by rains, PGA Tour players are going to go low and Points’ run at 59 warranted about half the coverage it received.


Once Points was in the clubhouse, Nantz and the CBS team turned all its attentions to the winless Jeff Overton, finally showing a graphic titled “On a Run.” Overton’s “run” included a 2nd place finish, two 3rd place finishes and a missed cut in his last six events…he would eventually piss away a three-shot overnight lead…a budding Jack Nicklaus he. They also ignored Overton’s petulant behavior which included a loud “FUCK” after a mis-hit fairway wood and thrown clubs, transgressions that draw condemnation when performed by Tiger Woods, the ONLY current athlete that merits any gushing.


Unfortunately, Nantz isn’t the only offender. While watching a Detroit Tigers-Tampa Bay Rays game last week, the announcers (I’ve successfully forgotten their names) gushed about Miguel Cabrera’s ability and his chance to win the Triple Crown. Never mind that Cabrera was leading only one of the three categories necessary to win the award; the fact that he was at bat was enough for the announcers to wax poetic and show old videos of Carl Yastrzemski, baseball’s last Triple Crown winner. Why bother viewers with pesky facts when you can tailor the facts to fit your storyline??? Later in the broadcast these same buffoons rambled at length about the Hall of Fame prospects of Tiger centerfielder Johnny Damon. Damon, like all players of the era, has grossly inflated numbers due to the confluence of gutless, specialized pitchers, juiced baseballs, and juiced players, but the announcers ticked off Damon’s numbers like they have some relevance in this bastardized era in baseball’s storied history. So you understand, Johnny Damon is by NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO stretch of the imagination a Hall of Famer, but the media machine has to keep the brain-dead, attention-challenged viewing public happy. Oh, by the way, Cabrera and Damon’s Tigers were no-hit that day.