Sports Broadcasts ... Without Announcers
Kind of an off topic rant of a sort. So ... fair warning.
About a year (plus) ago, maybe two, on a Saturday evening very near the beginning of the hockey season, I had the channel changer in my hand and I intentionally or not (I don’t recall) found myself on the CBC channel for the beginning of a Leafs hockey game (if it was intentional, it would have had to have been a Leafs/Habs game ... but regardless) and for whatever reason, there was a technical glitch of some sort on the HD broadcast that caused the game to be temporarily broadcast as it normally would, with all the sounds of the game as it really is when one is sitting in a seat fairly close to the ice at the ACC ... but it was coming out of my surround-sound speakers without the sound of the announcers calling the game! I was instantly transfixed by the unique audio that I was hearing ... because the only sounds that could be heard, were the sounds of the skates cutting on the ice ... and the puck being slapped and passed around from one player to the next ... and the crowd reacting to what was happening on the ice and ... that was all that could be heard! It ... was ... beautiful. (I’m so not kidding, by the way. Maybe the surround sound helped to make it sound as great as it did, but it really was terrific.) I found myself actually hoping that (maybe) this was some sort of experimental broadcast thing that I hadn’t heard about ... and I kept watching, enjoying the natural audio, as it is ... JUST as it is, when you’re sitting in a good seat at the game. I was thinking to myself that if it was intentional, I just might start watching hockey again. (I hardly ever watch hockey anymore, since about ... well, when the Raptors began playing.)
Well, after a few minutes, the announcers came on (they had been on all along for the not-HD broadcast, so I don’t think they mentioned it, but they might have) ... and ... after another minute or so, I changed the channel. But ... as the night went by, I found myself marveling at how thoroughly enjoyable those few minutes were, without the announcers.
I tell of this because just tonight, that moment came back to the forefront of my mind and I had to get up to write this about it. I had just gotten into bed to watch a bit of TV with the missus before saying goodnight ... and as she had gotten settled in first, she had the channel on the Olympic broadcast on CTV. The figure skating was on, which I generally enjoy, but ... after a moment, I reached for the remote (which was in her hand) so that I could turn the sound (mercifully) down. Well, she thought I was going to change the channel, so she tried to hold onto the remote, protesting at my ‘taking over’ (lol) ... but I explained (as I gently pulled the remote out of her hand) that I wasn’t going to change the channel; that all I wanted to do was turn the sound down, as I was so profoundly tired of hearing the constant and (to my mind) useless announcers (I didn’t say ‘profoundly’ or the ‘useless’ thing ... but I may’ve emphasized the point by quietly saying ‘f*cking announcers’ ... which sufficed) mentioning that I couldn’t listen to Rod Black and the lady with him (she knows how I feel about poor old Rod Black - it’s not good ... and it’s probably me more than him, to be fair), and how really (I went on), I simply resented that they couldn’t let us just watch and enjoy the skating that was going on ... because all I wanted to do was to listen to the music part of the program and watch the lovely skating that was going on, along with the crowd that was in the arena ... just as they were experiencing it. Sadly, the only way to manage it at all, was to turn the sound down just enough, to hear a bit of the music without (really) hearing the babbling that the announcers insisted on inserting (to my ears, most intrusively) wherever and whenever they felt it necessary , which was too much by more than half (again, to my ears) ... and I then found myself wondering why ... with all of the channels that the Olympics are being broadcast on (where I live, it’s on channels 4, 8, 17 [NBC], 22 and 30), why CTV wouldn’t think of dedicating ONE channel for showing the event with NO announcers ... at all?
Because, man(!), if they did that, I’d probably watch a lot more of the Olympics - not to mention a lot of other sports and games - than what I even do! (And I wouldn’t have a reason to mute the sound - or keep it way down - as I often do.)
While good sports announcers don’t generally cause me to react in this way, I’ll admit (for example, this - what I’m speaking of - didn’t occur to me at all while watching the Lakers at Grizzlies game, earlier), for the most part, I find SO many of the games (in whatever sport) that I watch, just too damn ... noisy. And it’s not the crowd or any of that, that I’m talking about. It’s the announcers.
I then wondered if others found themselves with a choice between two broadcasts of the same game, one with the announcers and one without, with all the other normal ‘game sounds’ of course (not simply ‘muted’) ... might they find themselves watching more and more of the ‘no-announcer’ broadcasts ... than what they’d even think they’d choose? I don’t know, ‘cause I can’t speak for everyone else, but ... I’d sure enjoy being able to find that out.
The more important aspect of this thing, however, is ... putting aside my comments about the announcers, the GAME EXPERIENCE on TV - especially these days, with HD and surround-sound - without the announcers ... it makes for a very similar experience to actually being there!
It’s just a matter of time (I figure) before a broadcast station tries it. And I can’t say I know how many would end up preferring it ... but I know for sure that I would. And I’d bet there’d be a few others out there, as well.
So ... bring it on CTV. Or CBC. Or somebody. (Please!) With all the ‘available’ channel space that there is, it couldn’t be that difficult to try. Maybe, the overall ratings would increase. And ... if that turned out to be true, it’s a big win-win.
Edit - After closing up the laptop for a bit, it occurred to me that I should add that there are of course, some games and sports that are not really suitable for what I've written here, but ... I'd sure like to see it as an option for some others.