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What makes a broadcaster good? I’ll tell you and you tell me

What would be your top five attributes for a television announcer/host/play-by-play guy?

Those key characteristics that make someone standout from all the noise we’re subjected to these days?

To me, in no particular order, they’d be:

The ability to explain the action on the court/field/whatever and educate without being condescending to those who know the sport intricately.

Conversely, having the talent to avoid being too “inside baseball” that it turns off casual viewers/listeners.

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.

I think in Canada, regular TV sports viewers have been blessed with announcers and analyst who tick off all the boxes I laid out and Dobson is just one on a long list.

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.

Send you thoughts and names to either the spot or on the tweeter machine and we’ll compile them for later in the week.

They tell me we’ve now done 15 of these I’ll Have Another thingamajigs and, I swear, eventually we’ll get it right.

You should listen, lots of good stuff in here.

Speaking of fringe sports, was hugely happy to find the all-Ireland hurling final on one of the screens while sitting on a stool for a bit yesterday.

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 would suggest that while there is some good that’s come of just about every game in every imaginable sport being somehow available every day, it’s almost too much.

I bet if someone cut back just a little bit, to add some mystique to the events, we’d look more forward to them.

Champions League today!

I know my Spurs aren’t on until tomorrow but that doesn’t mean I can’t find a stool and cheer quietly against Arsenal, right?

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.


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