Dan Hicks Talks About His Call Of The U.S. Men's 4x100 Relay Win

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Should have caught this yesterday, but I was a little bogged down with the Sports Center stuff. Olympic Swimming announcer Dan Hicks was pulled aside by NBC for a conference call the day after the amazing 4x100 Freestyle Relay and I wanted to share some highlights....

"Without a doubt it's the great Olympic moment I've ever experienced or called, head and shoulder above anything, and we have done some pretty good things. It's just one of those rare moments that you get in this business to be a part of something like that, and the fact that it now has a chance to continue, one of the greatest Olympic stories ever in Michael Phelps, just makes it an even bigger moment.

It was something out of a Hollywood script. It had everything. It had the guys that did the trash talking in the French, it had the 32-year-old swimmer in Jason Lezak who has not had successful Olympic swims in the past trying to catch the world record holder in the 100m, and doing it when it looked like he had no chance at all. It was a crazy, crazy moment. I know Rowdy, in his eyes, agrees with me that it was simply the greatest Olympic relay race he has ever seen.

That race is why we get into the business of sports broadcasting. It was just absolute excitement, shock, and the utmost of wattage. It was just so unexpected. It was so clear that Bernard was going to win this race and in those last meters, it was like a switch was flipped and all of a sudden Lezak pulled it out. I think it has been clear throughout the Games that we are certainly not rooting for the Americans. The excitement that we had was just simply about an unbelievable piece of drama in the pool."
I don't know about the whole "not rooting for the Amercians" thing, but I thoroughly enjoyed the "utmost of wattage" line. While Rowdy Gaines is busy turning into Swimming's version of Doug Collins ("When I played/swam, I was ____."), Hicks is really making a name for himself. I personally didn't think he was impressive during Tiger's U.S. Open overtime win, but I'm definitely enjoying him during these Olympics.

It's tough to make a name for yourself in a Sports that people only care about every four years, but if he can pull it off.....more power to him. Hey, and just because I like to challenge the man....let's watch it again!

(P.S.- Listening to Doug Collins call Olympic Basketball games is a personal hell for me. If I have to hear the, "I made two free throws, and if they hadn't put more time back on the clock," story one more time I'm going to lose it. We get it...the U.S. was screwed and you were awesome, but we've been hearing it for the last 36 years.)


I love how Phelps turns and screams at the French team (0:57) and holds his hands out in a "how do you like me now" kind of way.

Pete said...
Aug 12, 2008, 1:26:00 PM  

I was hoping that Collins and Breen were going to finish outlining the three wishes Collins wants in life. After learning he wants to be LeBron for 24 hours, there was surely gold from the final two.

Justin Williams said...
Aug 12, 2008, 1:30:00 PM  

not sure if its been mentioned yet, but the directv interactive olympics channel is pretty cool. i was watching the argentina/aussie game today and you can get updated medal counts and stuff on the screen. very well done.

Mike Georger said...
Aug 12, 2008, 2:14:00 PM  

props to dan hicks, a fellow tucsonan.

i was searching youtube for the 4x100 (since i hate nbc) and came across a clip from some guy named 'gold medal mel'. there was a stipped down version of the relay from the stands which was pretty cool.

mel found hicks afterward and asked him a couple of questions.

he has his own site here:


it looks like there are videos, but my work filter is blocking them.


-dan said...
Aug 12, 2008, 2:22:00 PM  

I could watch this once a day for a long long long time!

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2008, 2:33:00 PM  

i wonder if Hannah emailed him first with congratulations or wonder boy Josh.

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2008, 2:37:00 PM  

Phelps' celebratory scream has got to go down in history as one of the most memorable images ever in sports. That was just 100% pure emotion there.

Jay said...
Aug 12, 2008, 3:00:00 PM  

I think its true that hes not there openly rooting for the US. In the down time you dont hear him expressing personal opinions about wanting the US to win. The US happened to be involved in this spectacular race and the emotion that came out of him was raw and unplanned.

MC said...
Aug 12, 2008, 3:26:00 PM  

I wonder how many "Endless Pools" Rowdy Gaines has sold in China?

GMoney said...
Aug 12, 2008, 4:03:00 PM  

all videos are on nbcolympics.com, you will have no luck on youtube.com

mike said...
Aug 12, 2008, 4:39:00 PM  

Funny, I didn't know that Gus Johnson was in Beijing.

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2008, 4:49:00 PM  

i won't go to nbcolympics.com either.

some guy on youtube recorded the race off the tv and uploaded it.

the quality was pretty bad, but it was better than supporting nbc since they are crapping all over everyone out west.


-dan said...
Aug 12, 2008, 4:51:00 PM  

i hear a little gus johnson in hicks' voice, not bad at all. loved the energy. that being said, can we get gus to call the olympics sometime soon?

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2008, 5:28:00 PM  

Eh... I got more emotional when Chris Carpenter left Sunday night's game with soreness in his recently repaired pitching arm.

Bruce said...
Aug 12, 2008, 6:00:00 PM  

I like the emotion, but this was the 2nd straight race he basically got the facts of part of the call wrong. With about 40m left, he's basically saying the race is over ("US is trying to hang onto second, they should get the silver medal") and then changes course 2 seconds later when he sees, hey Lezak is closer than I thought and is making up ground.

Worse, the race before this he yelled Katie Hoff won (when she was being closed in on at the end) before having to quickly switch to another swimmer who actually DID win.

Emotion is great, but I want my play-by-play guys to get the "play" right.

Rob Pollard said...
Aug 12, 2008, 7:07:00 PM  

@rob: Huh? I didn't see the Hoff thing, but Hicks went with what he knew. He knew Bernard was a strong swimmer and would be very tough to beat if the US weren't already ahead going into the final leg of the relay, and then Lezak started gaining on him well after the turn. I think he nailed it. I've watched it over and over again and I don't see any reason why he should've been changing his tune about the outcome of the race until he did, when he saw--as I saw--Lezak starting to gain significant ground.

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2008, 8:37:00 PM  

I'm sorry but Dan Hicks is GAWD awful.His call was amateurish. They should have shown him wearing his skirt and pompoms going "yay team!" By the way Gus Johnson still SUCKS! so comparing Hicks to Johnson just confirms it.

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2008, 8:40:00 PM  

Also Hicks did say Hoff won when she did not. It took Rowdy Gaines to throw some cold water on him and say that she did not.

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2008, 8:43:00 PM  

I'd have to disagree (with Anon 8:37:00 PM). Hicks' statement that "the United States trying to hang on to second" meant to me that the U.S. was more likely to go to third than win the race. When he said that, I scanned the pool b/c I thought "wow, someone must be gaining on Lezak...it looked at the turn like he decisively was in second and still had an outside chance at first". If you look at the replay, he was almost a full body-length ahead of 3rd place, while Lezak was "only" about 1/2 a body length behind the French.

In any case - I don't like it when announcers in any sport basically sound like something is over when it's not over -- and that's what he did. Lezak's comeback was amazing b/c of the time he put up and, more notably, the fact it kept Phelps' 8 gold dream alive. But people come back from behind from as far as Lezak all the time -- like Hoff's race which was just an hour (in TV time) before!

All that said, I do like enthusiasm (and Gus Johnson). Just get the info right.

Rob Pollard said...
Aug 12, 2008, 9:18:00 PM  

Minor, but since it is "Awful Announcing," Hicks and Gaines violated the Yogi Berra cardinal rule of broadcasting in their call of the final leg: "it's never over until it is over."

Gaines says "It doesn't look like he's (Lezak) going to be able to catch him" with more than 50m still left. Then Hicks chimes in "the United States trying to hang on to 2nd. They should get the silver."

Big "no-no's" overshadowed by the screaming they did when Lezak proved them wrong.

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2008, 10:06:00 PM  

I think Hicks is a hidden gem of the broadcasting world. I personally loved his call of the US Open, and he's been fantastic in his swimming calls.

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2008, 10:29:00 PM  

Without question, one of the worst calls ever delivered on network TV. Dan Hicks is only good at one thing overreacting. His cheerleading for the favorites whether it be Tiger Woods or Michael Phelps is getting tired and underscores the weakness in his announcing skills. Frankly, I thought NBC made an audio error and was running a tape of Howard Dean after the Iowa caucus as the race was ending.

Anonymous said...
Aug 15, 2008, 1:47:00 PM  

Hicks has talked over the start of almost every race. He literally talks right over the horn that signals the start and continues his ramblings as the swimmers explode into the water.

A sporting event is like a piece of music. There are times to play your notes and there are times when you let the moment stand on it's own -- you let it breathe -- you 'lay out' -- you shut the f up. The start of any race is one of those critical times. Set the table, build the drama, then get out of the way. Fold your commentary into the body of the race.

Listen to Tom Hammond call the Track & Field venue. Better yet, someone please ask Dan Hicks to listen to Mr. Hammond. He'd learn how a pro conducts the call of a race.

Anonymous said...
Aug 15, 2008, 10:53:00 PM  

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