For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been on the shelf and unable to function as a normal, semi-productive member of society.
This has forced allowed me to watch a lot of sporting events during that time, of which there is no shortage of inventory. (I am also fortunate to have DVRed 169 episodes of Mannix, so I’ve got you covered on that front also.)
Lots of basketball, pro and college. Plenty of high interest football as well.
And what has really struck me is the difference in the way these two sports are analyzed during a game.
Look, I’m no expert on sports television broadcasting. I’m just like you – the only qualification is that I watch a lot of it. Just because I listen to music doesn’t mean I know how to play the guitar.
Also just like you, certain announcers drive me crazy for reasons that really don’t have to be logical (see “Raftery, Bill” at the beginning of any college basketball game he calls.)
But I’ve been thinking about this for a while and it has really started to become obvious during my infirmed state: It’s really amazing what football analysts are able to do. And especially when compared to basketball analysts.
I get it … part of it is the nature of the sport. In basketball, you better be quick because the next play has already started. Football has a built-in 30 seconds or so for an explanation.
But I also know you are talking about a sport that has 22 players to account for instead of 10 and a playing surface 12 times as big. And yet these color analysts do it relatively easily and on time fast enough to get ready for the next play.
Yes, they have immediate access to a replay before the previous play is almost over. Still, this is more than just “that looks like pass interference.” They see the game through the quarterback’s eyes, the linebacker’s eyes and the deep snapper’s eyes.
Why did the receiver run that route, making an adjustment after the play had already begun?
How did the linebacker know what the pre-snap read needed to be?
What was the intention to use that kind of motion and did it serve its purpose?
But the one that gets me the most is with blocking schemes. It’s as if they are able to look at all the run or pass-protection techniques of every offensive lineman and instantly know why it made the play work (or didn’t).
San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey had barely even dropped the ball in the end zone when Fox analyst Greg Olsen was telling me to watch how 49er offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey was able to use an effective blocking move on two defenders to free up the touchdown run.
You and I are such simpletons that we just watch the ball and figure that’s all we need to know.
NBC’s Cris Collinsworth may have a rather annoying voice, but his attention to detail is spot on. Say what you want about ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, but he always seems to nail it on important plays.
I watched a great college basketball game last weekend – two Top 15 teams – and all I got was jargon from the analysts. “That’s a yo-yo!” was one of my favorites, offered without explanation. Or it’s an endless supply of over-talking – “dribble drive” or “screen the screener” or “they ran a high-low to run a scissor off a back cut to get a big open for a shot in the short corner.”
In other words, someone tall made a 3-pointer.
But this is really all about the praise for these football guys who know what to look for, explain what they see and have a bow on it all within 30 seconds.
I’d still be trying to figure out the number of the guy who caught the ball.
Contact JJ at email@example.com