Imagine if the iconic Stanley Cup winning OT goal scored by Bobby Orr happened in today’s TV announcing world. It’s quite likely, just forty seconds into that famous 1970 overtime period, that Jack and Andy would be rambling on and on about something or other and not just calling the game action as Jack Edwards is paid to do. Imagine, as Orr approaches the net to tuck in Sanderson’s pass, Jack finally realizes the scoring play at hand. He’d desperately try to jump in to call the goal and add the excitement. He’d have essentially missed the greatest goal in Bruins history.
With real games about to be played sooner than we realize at the World Cup of Hockey, storylines are going to be jammed down our throats with ESPN at the helm. This is not limited to or meant to pick on Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley specifically, but adding ‘color’ to a television game call has gotten way out of hand (I see you, Pierre McGuire) in recent years. Essentially Jack should call the game action, 100% of it mind you, not 75% and Brickley should add brief observations and analysis when there is a stoppage in play, not while the action is unfolding.
A proper game call adds energy and excitement to any sport. Just like a movie soundtrack adds tension and energy to the on screen action. These days sports announcers spend way too much time talking about all the stories that in some way tie into the game and it’s players. Broadcast’s like NBC Sports pick their storyline’s in advance and spew them on script all game in an attempt to make it “compelling” (Pierre, please do tell us more about Chara’s pee-wee team coach). While sometimes interesting, it does nothing to enhance the game action and many times it detracts from it.
In hockey you can go from deep in your own zone to scoring a highlight reel goal in about 10 seconds. So to not have game action called while all of that happened ruins the delivery of a beautiful and exciting play. The worst transgression is when a goal is scored while the announcers are not calling the game at all. They then try to regroup and recap what just happened. That might as well be grounds for immediate dismissal.
One area it’s gotten especially out of hand are All-Star games and the Olympics. It’s worse than the attempt at tear jerking stories that reality shows try to sell you on their contestants to try to get people to care. The story telling that goes on during these special events is unending, all while the action taking place is almost secondary. I understand the NHL All-Star Game can be a tough sell but there is extreme skill on display, so how about enhancing it with exciting game call? When memorable events happen those calls become part of the history of the event, like “the goal” Orr scored:
I can’t see the goal without hearing Fred’s call. It’s just as much part of hockey history as the actual play.
Bottom line, if you are an announcer call the game action much like a radio play-by-play man does. Build off the drama playing out in front of you. If you are the color commentator, add interest and insight during stoppages. Less color, Jack. More action. It’s really that simple.