The Curse Of Self-Loathing, Self-Loving Sportscasters

Categories: Sports, Television
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So we're watching the ALCS last night, a couple of days after watching Sunday Night Football on NBC, and it just gets to be too much.

We've had this feeling for a while, but now there's just no getting away from it.

Since when has it been such a goddamn favor for announcers to deign to bring themselves so low as to talk about the sports they're covering?

Joe Buck, Bob Costas, Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, Cris Collinsworth: sports fans these days are being subjected to a parade of TV guys who seem intent on leaving the impression they are soooo freakin' cool that they'd rather be doing anything than talking about the games they're covering.

Whether it's a sly tone of voice indicating "Isn't this silly?" or an outright display of disdain for having to actually talk about something like a sporting event when there are so many Important Things going on that these guys know all about, the Smugness Meter is off the charts these days.

We get it: It's just sports, It's not as important as politics, or as important as making sure everyone realizes you are properly aware of and sneerful about the latest bit of pop-culture idiocy to go viral.

But if you hate the gig so much, why not just leave it?

In the baseball playoffs, as in his NFL announcing, Buck has to make sure we realize that he knows that sports are not important in The Great Scheme Of Things, and that he is contemptuous of those who get wrapped up in the trivia that comes from what print reporters on the news desk refer to as "the toy department."

Poor Troy Aikman, his colleague in the NFL booth, tries to keep up with the cynicism but he likes football and probably never watches The Best Week Ever, so he's lost.

But that's Fox. It's on NBC's Sunday Night Football, or Sunday Football Night In America On Sunday, or whatever they call it, that the snobby, above-it-all atmosphere becomes oppressive.

Host Bob Costas is intent on nothing so much as making sure everyone knows he could out-Dennis Miller Dennis Miller in terms of obscure references if he wanted to, and any poor saps who actually care about the games be damned.

Then there's Olbermann. On his MSNBC show, he's the type of self-righteous, annoying egomaniac who makes you embarrassed to agree with his political positions. Somehow, somewhere, NBC determined that the nation demanded he be reunited with Dan Patrick for ultra-droll commentary on game highlights, commentary that again is designed for viewers to bow down in appreciation of the pair's urbane bon mots as opposed to getting any understanding of what went on in the league that afternoon.

They both are extremely pleased with their repartee, and you, viewer, are a mouth-breathing fanboi if you somehow are unable to revel in their Wilde-ean flights of rhetorical fancy.

Okay -- you can always skip the pre-game show. What about the watching the actual event? Sadly, there's no escape from the smuggery there, either. Collinsworth declares constantly -- in tone, content and attitude -- that he is a brainiac Who Played The Game, and he could talk about football, or he could talk about quantum physics or Britney Spears or presidential politics or how macho he is if he chose to. You're just damn lucky he's choosing at the moment to talk about football.

Look, we get it: Sports isn't that important. It's a diversion. People should be watching C-SPAN instead of Yankees-Angels or some NFC East showdown.

But dudes, no one's forcing you to take the job.

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