9 Most Annoying Sports Broadcasters
Almost everyone gets annoying after two hours. In fact, it takes a special gift NOT to be annoying after an extended period of time. After spending much of my TV-watching life with some of the people below, I can say with some certainty: They don’t have that gift. After reviewing this list, I was amazed by how many different ways people can be annoying. And these are just the active ones. There are no Billy Packers or insane John Madden’s here. These are nine guys that are currently bugging the hell out of us while we try to watch sports.
1. Dick Vitale
Has Dickie V gotten more obnoxious as the years have gone on, or have we just grown less tolerant of his shtick? Probably both. Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit on this guy: He is scary as hell in HD. He’s dropped about 15 pounds in the past decade and his eyes are nothing short of bloodshot every time he appears on TV. I’m bracing for the moment his head starts glowing and he speaks in a low-pitched growl instructing me to find the dark side.
Fortunately, we don’t have to see him that much when he’s calling a game. Unfortunately, we still have to hear him. A lot. I’m all for enthusiasm about the college game. I think we could use more, in fact. But Vitale’s has worn a little thin as we hear the phrase “diaper dandy” for the millionth time in late March. Just say “freshman,” dude.
As he gets older, his exclamations sound more and more like a gasp for air than they do sounds of excitement, which is…disarming. Ideally, I don’t want to see Dick Vitale in any capacity, but he should at least be kept in the studio where his mannerisms can be appreciated on a novelty level, rather than courtside, where he haunts me for two hours.
2. Chris Berman
To be fair to Chris, he’s gotten better in recent years, but he still carries the hallmarks of the caricature he portrayed in the 80’s and 90’s. He founded his career as the “Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor” of the NFL, often communicating in a language that’s just a step above grunts and moans. While this was endearing in the new age of sports broadcasting and ESPN, it wore thin quickly. While flashes of his “rumblin’, stumblin’, tumblin’” manner of broadcasting still exist, ESPN and Berman have managed to pare them down in recent years. But not enough to keep him off this list.
More to the point is the fact that his shtick either overshadowed or obfuscated his audience as to what his actual point was. It’s hard to observe the down-field blocking when you’ve got some dude exclaiming, “Whoop whoop whoop” like the Three Stooges.
3. Deion Sanders/Emmitt Smith/Michael Irvin
I am lumping these guys together, cause if you combined only their strengths, you’d have one hell of a studio guy. There’s a steep learning curve for mid-90’s Cowboys in Broadcasting. Aikman just got good a couple years ago, Moose Johnston is still a ways from being there, and the trifecta above has varying degrees of promise, but they’re still a ways away.
Deion, despite often dressing and grooming himself like a cartoon character is probably the furthest along of the group. Despite dressing like Goofy, he’s knowledgeable, interacts well, and God knows he has the confidence to pull this off. However, his presence on the studio shows often seems as though a time machine retrieved him 1996 and set him down at a desk. Annoying, but not fatal.
Emmitt Smith has the face and heart for television, but what’s so unbelievably frustrating about this guy is that he’s likable and well spoken, but seemingly never gives you the answer you’re looking for. If he asked about blocking assignments, he’ll drift to play calling and footwork.
Michael Irvin is polarizing in much the same way I would imagine Charles Barkley is to some (I love Chuck). However, personalities aside, the difference between Chuck and Playmaker is that Playmaker can’t interact with anyone else at the table. Which is unfortunate when you have six guys gathered around, talking football. He pissed off Steve Young two years ago with his inability to be gracious to the other hosts. He may not bother me directly, but he bothers everyone on the show, which kills me. If I had to pull one, it would be Irvin.
4. Terry Bradshaw
Terry Bradshaw reminds me of John McCain. A jovial, likable guy that is probably a cauldron of rage deep down. We see flashes of this when Terry has to defend his position to the other studio hosts. He becomes very defensive, which in and of itself is off-putting, but then gets very aggressive about his position, talking over the other and making certain to get in the last word. That behavior makes me go to ESPN for my Sunday morning coverage.
Couple that behavior with the incessant cracks about wardrobes and slapstick humor and he comes across as nothing less than insane.
5. Joe Morgan
The correlation between baseball announcers and their desire to operate on “gut” rather than stats and figures is hardly a mystery. Baseball is an institution as much rooted in lore, legend, and history as it is in the present. Joe Morgan takes that philosophy and runs with it, fast and far. Every ball player is a saint, doing God’s work by participating in the national pastime.
Statistics? Who needs those when you’ve got the heart of a champion and a desire to be the best? Umm, as a member of the gambling community and a very casual baseball fan, I do, Joe. So give them to me. If the guy is batting .113 with running in scoring position in the postseason, don’t tell me he’s good in the clutch. Science says he’s not. If you’re that personally invested in the sport, go into the stands, get a hot dog, and sing “Take Me out to the Ball Game.”
6. Bill Walton
Yikes. Walton’s inclusion on this list has only to do with the fact that he has the most obnoxious voice in the history of the spoken word. It’s strange how much his voice resembles his appearance: gangly and slow.
His insights are normally spot on, I never saw a shred of evidence that he was anything less than objective when he was discussing his son, and his sense of humor is actually pretty refreshing when laid atop the rest of his team’s dry remarks. But, oh, that voice.
Put two Fruit Roll-Ups in your mouth. Then cram in a handful of marbles. Then say “Sasha Vujacic cleans up on the glass.” Congratulations. You sound like Bill Walton.
7. Bob Costas
In an alternate universe, Bob Costas is a 73 year-old man sitting outside a general store, drinking iced tea and whittling. And part of me thinks that he would probably be that guy in this universe if he wasn’t a professional announcer/host. I can stand him in every capacity but baseball. He hosts the Olympics studio show and does a fine job. Covering an equestrian steroids scandal on HBO? Beautiful. Go to town, Bob.
Once you get him on the subject of the national pastime, he becomes a sanctimonious heel that acts more like a character from Field of Dreams than an objective reporter/broadcaster. We get it. You’re from St. Louis. You love baseball. You want us to love baseball, too. You know how you get us to love baseball? Stop treating baseball like it’s the most important thing in the world.
If you make something seem that serious, it’s going to scare people off. That’s why I don’t go to church anymore.
8. Bryant Gumbel
Rampant fact-checking was in order for this entry to ensure that I didn’t confuse the two replicate Gumbels. Greg is the one who looks like he ate everyone else in the studio. He hosts the NCAA tourney studio show. My only real hang up with him is that he needs to let his hair grow a little more so that he can perfectly resemble a washed-up Venezuelan pitcher from 1977. I find his tempo and voice to be soothing. It sounds like he’s always in control and would never let me miss a moment of action. Especially when he’s in the NFL booth. Good job, Greg. You’re aces.
Evil twin Bryant, on the other hand was an atrocious announcer and a ham of a studio host. Announcing first: he was….bad. His timing wasn’t good, his day job seemed to preclude his ability to do his homework, and his tempo was choppy. Though the first two are probably more grave errors, his cadence was my biggest gripe. He would take you out of the play every time he opened his mouth. The NFL Network saw this and fired him a couple years ago, which solved that problem.
But his studio presence, especially on “serious” issues, continues to be irritating to no end. While faking sincerity and concern are hallmarks of any interpersonal host, the emoting he would do on a Barbaro-type story are ludicrous. His “lean in, scrunch face, nod solemnly” to every human interest story became so cliché he would take you out of those moments as well.
In short, if you want to be immersed in something, keep Bryant away. Greg’s cool though.
9, Magic Johnson
In a vacuum, Magic Johnson would be a fine studio host, and when he’s pulling duty for ABC Basketball late in the season, he tows his weight just fine. However, when he’s the fourth man (or third if Barkley is in time-out for pursuing drunken blow jobs) on Inside the NBA, he brings the show to a grinding halt. It’s a perfect example of being judged in light of your company, and Magic doesn’t have much of a place in that dynamic. He’s an NBA icon, but the gregarious nature and constant smile, though comfortable, dulls down the edge that Kenny, Ernie and Chuck bring to the table.
Magic seems to be the parent in the room when he’s on the show (which seems to be all the time, lately), which keeps everyone on slightly better behavior than we would like. Nothing is better than when Barkley gets going on a politically incorrect tirade, Kenny’s biting his lip, and EJ is scrambling for synonyms for “shut the fuck up, Chuck”. You just don’t get to see that when Magic’s in the room.