To me, in no particular order, they’d be:
An understated style that never, ever, every includes hot takes or screams and a willingness to include others – be it the analyst next to the play-by-play guy or the other panelists on a studio show – in the conversation.
I bring this up because another iconic Canadian broadcaster has ridden off in the sunset with the departure of Gerry Dobson from the soccer airwaves, a retirement well chronicled by She Who Supports Arsenal in this weekend piece that I’m sure you’ve all seen. (If you haven’t it’s here so you can get well caught up).
I don’t know how many times over the years that I’ve had the soccer on – World Cup, UEFA Cup, MLS, some weekly EPL game – and found myself thinking “oh yeah, that’s why that happened” or “oh yeah, that’s what that means” after Dobson and one of his equally adept analysts have made a point about a player, a game or a situation.
Talking basically national broadcasters – mostly because I don’t see or hear enough local men and women – we’ve had the likes of Dobson, Geoff Gowan, Don Wittman, Johnny Esaw and too many others to fully recount who have taught and entertained us and given us insight into sports a bit out of the mainstream; that’s a huge gift and they’ve been a large part of the reason why so many niche, or fringe, sports have become more familiar to us all.
And that’s what we want, right?
We don’t need schtick or screamers or showmen; we need calm insight and knowledge that makes us more intelligent viewers and allow us to be more appreciative of the games we’re learning about and the athletes we’re perhaps watching for the first time.
Maybe it’s the Canadian in us that allows that to happen, heaven knows I spend enough time south of the border watching games on TV and we know how inundated we are even here with American network sports.
It strikes me that we have more of the kind of voices that resonate and maybe that’s why we seem to collectively have a greater appreciation for some sports.
It’d be interesting to get your take on this, whether that attributes I laid out are accurate or whether something is missing; who among the greats we’ve been able to enjoy over the years I may have inadvertently forgotten.
They tell me we’ve now done 15 of these I’ll Have Another thingamajigs and, I swear, eventually we’ll get it right.
Sadly, my Kilkenny lads were beaten by the dastardly Tipperary squad but it looked like a delightfully close game – as if I know for sure what I was watching – and it was of those events that would take those of Us Of A Certain Vintage back in time.
Remember the good old days of The Wide World Of Sports on Saturday afternoons? Every now and then something like hurling, or rugby or Aussie rules football or ski jumping or the Harlem Globetrotters playing on an aircraft carrier or in some farflung exotic locale would show up and it was wildly entertaining.
I’ve really come around to these seasons-within-seasons and while I know it’s not at all workable here in North America, if it could be done it would add so much to the mundane regular seasons we all have to endure.