Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mike Goldberg and Play-by-Play Announcing

Mike Goldberg is a broadcaster who works primarily on Ultimate Fighting Championship broadcasts, as well as various other programs. He has also handled some play-by-play of Arizona Cardinals preseason broadcasts.

Last Sunday, Mr. Goldberg got his shot to call a regular season NFL game, on FOX when the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions met.

It did not go so well. Goldberg was mocked in multiple corners of the world for his mistakes.

If only it had ended there. The keyboard geniuses (the non-Joe Buck division) were out for blood.

Goldberg would have been well-served to step away from the keyboard and not engage the trolls (yes, advice we all need to take). I've seen broadcasters respond to them in appropriate manners, but often, it doesn't end well, and it didn't work out here.

Goldberg went back at critics with expletives. That's the kind of thing that will get the attention (and not good attention) of a lot of people. Mainly, his bosses. Of course, then he apologized.

The NFL is hyper-image conscious right now. Think they were thrilled to see a Fox broadcaster cursing out the public? So FOX pulled him from his second assignment, a Vikings/Bills game in Buffalo.

I used to think anyone could do play-by-play. I figured, I can do it. Why can't others? All you're doing is describing what you see. I realized, quickly, how wrong I was. It's a skill. It's not like being a nurse or performing brain surgery, but it's still a skill, and one that I'm proud of. I'm pleased that I am able to make something of a broadcast when I get a roster just minutes (sometimes seconds) before a game begins.

Goldberg appeared to sound horribly unprepared, and while he still would have dealt with critics, he probably would have gotten a second chance if he had just stayed away from Twitter for a few days.

I saw where Laxworm, a Connecticut-based website that is primarily devoted to lacrosse, has stuck its toe into the increasingly crowded high school sports field. Hey, I mean anybody can start up a webcasting station, right? The Worm had put together a small list of high school football games to broadcast, though I haven't heard how they sound.

You might know, I'm somewhat busy with my own games to call. I have no idea how things sound over on WGCH either.

Worm tweeted that they need a PBP (yes, play-by-play) voice for an upcoming Newtown/Ansonia game. I had marked that one as a potential broadcast for HAN (we're still deciding the rest of our schedule). Another tweeter suggested a friend of his. A quick scan of that potential "voices" Twitter feed indicated that he wouldn't be the kind of guy I'd want on my radio.

Image, social media behavior, and ability all combine. They mean a lot. Goodness knows I'm not immune to a social media screwup. It all counts.

Still it comes back to ability. At least I like to believe it does (and it doesn't entirely). On the local level, I can't just hand the keys over to somebody that hasn't demonstrated some skill. There is a lot to doing play-by-play. In short, you become engineer, producer, and talent. You need to open and close the broadcast (not as easy as it sounds). You're watching social media for storylines and scores. You're running commercials. You're doing prep work (if there's actually time) for the game. You're balancing egos both on and off the air, and potentially dealing with any and all distractions, including in the press box.

Oh yeah, and you also have to report and describe the action, while keeping your listeners entertained and engaged.

You have to also be smooth.

My guess? Mike Goldberg will get another shot. The reasons are various, but there are a lot of bad broadcasters and politics often works to get a guy another shot. Maybe FOX lets him back on because Dana White, the MMA impresario, wants Goldberg to get another chance. FOX and MMA are business partners, after all. Think about the amount of dreck that gets recycled out there.

It can be disheartening to see and hear.


Kenn Tomasch said...

I could not call lax in Connecticut. I understand you need a working knowledge of rap lyrics, and I do not have that.

Rob Adams said...

If that's the case, I better quit now.