Keith Jackson Talks About The State Of Sports Broadcasting

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm not sure why we're getting a string of state of media addresses as of late, but I'm all for them. The latest ESPN Ombudsman article tackled ESPN cross promotion and synergy and yesterday we had the future of Sports Television. Well today the topic is the State of Broadcasting and the quotes come from recently re-retired ABC College Football announcer, Keith Jackson.

The LA Times posed the question of perhaps the legendary broadcaster calling the OSU-USC game for the weekend and this was his response....

"I don't belong," he said. "My time is gone. I knew it and walked away."

While Vin Scully, who is the same age, has re-signed for another year with the Dodgers and Chick Hearn went on with the Lakers until his death at 85, Jackson is content with his decision, happy to hunker down at home for Saturday's game.

"I'm going to have a glass of good wine and watch a good ballgame," he said.

After being a football announcer with ABC from 1966 to 2006, he doesn't miss it?

"I've brainwashed myself into believing that," he said. "I'm on to another life."

The first time Jackson retired, he was enticed into returning when a network executive removed the burden of his heavy travel schedule. And when Jackson retired again, there was a new enticement.

"ESPN talked to me," he said, "but it's a whole different profession now."

Jackson is talking about the radical changes produced by technology, from the dizzying array of channel options, to online videos, blogging by sideline reporters, fantasy football stats and the increasing demand for an interactive experience.

"It's oversaturation to me," he said. "I wonder if it won't dull the appetite for football. I have trouble just with all these replays. I can't tell the old stuff from the new stuff. Also, it seems like there is constant conversation by the announcers. Yak, yak, yak. I just don't think we need that much conversation and I have a hunch there are a whole lot of folks who feel that way. Vinny [Scully] once said that what we do is capture pictures and I agree with that. But maybe I'm just a grouchy old guy."
My thing is that there's room for all types of approaches in the booth from the classic, to the humorous, to the boisterous, but you have to know when to hit the pause button when thing get serious or the game is close. The biggest problem that I see, is a combination of what Jackson said and people trying way too hard to be funny, or off the wall. Subtle humor within the context of the game is always welcome, but when you start turning into the broadcast into a Sports Talk Radio show, that's when people hit mute.

It's sad to think that people like Jackson believe that the game and technology has passed them by, and that they "don't belong", but I guess it's just the natural progression of things. Hopefully he'll reconsider and can call a game next season for one network or another. I for one could use a "Whoa Nellie!" or two on Saturdays.

Whoa, Nellie: Keith Jackson enjoying retirement (LA Times)


You're wrong about one thing, AA. There is NO room in the booth for Paul Maguire.

GMoney said...
Sep 12, 2008, 11:42:00 AM  

... or Tony Kornheiser.

Anonymous said...
Sep 12, 2008, 11:45:00 AM  

K. Jackson in his prime >>>>>>>>>>>>> anyone else announceing college football today. When Keith showed up, you knew it was a big game.

And yes, I am an old fu#k (that is over 40).

Anonymous said...
Sep 12, 2008, 11:51:00 AM  

keith is going to be 80 on 10/18 and i'd still take him over everyone else.

abc needs to try and talk him into doing next year's usc/ohio state game.

keith - if they ask, say 'yes'.


-dan said...
Sep 12, 2008, 12:10:00 PM  

Keith Jackson is so on point with announcers talking too much (I'm looking at you Joe Buck). What I liked about Keith is how he would let the big moments speak for himself. Think about the classic "Hello Heisman!" call for Desmond Howard...there was silence for about a minute afterwards and you just saw celebrating. Ditto for the Colorado Hail Mary against Michigan.

A lot of times, the announcers do not have to say anything.

Sean O said...
Sep 12, 2008, 12:14:00 PM  

He's right about these people having diarrhea of the mouth.

I was watching the MSU game a few weeks ago and these two clowns would NOT SHUT THE F UP about the idiot hippies in the goddamn trees.

They talked through plays in what was a pretty darn good game, it was not over and they moved on to a gabfest, sort of like a Phil Donahue soul searching conversation about our fragile human condition.

Hollywood Wags said...
Sep 12, 2008, 12:15:00 PM  

Here's one problem as I see it: it's not just that you have all these announcers yak-yak-yakking, but it's that so many of them are really not very bright. A big part of that, I think, is that so many of these color commentators are former players who only passed Comp. I in college because they had tutors holding their hands.

Whatever the reason, we're led to believe that former players are the best announcers. If you watch NBA League Pass ever, it's incredible to come across color commentators who can actually put a coherent sentence together, let alone provide intellectually-stimulating conversation. This isn't to mention the ESPN-ization of play-by-play guys who need to try so hard to be funny or witty that the game is lost in between. Leave that to the old pros, guys like Marv Albert, who can seamlessly insert his humor and smarts.

Anonymous said...
Sep 12, 2008, 12:15:00 PM  

Keith's the man. Period.

Steven said...
Sep 12, 2008, 1:39:00 PM  

I love Keith Jackson. When I'm watching college football in heaven, Jackson will be the only play-by-play man. But I'm so thankful he walked away. The last game he did (UT-USC Rose Bowl, I believe), you could tell he wasn't the same. Sure he had the same voice, cadence and sense for the game, but he wasn't nearly as sharp. He had trouble following the play accurately and thus had many miscalls.

It was time for him to step back, I just wish he'd open a school and teach the clowns currently calling games a thing or two.

Anonymous said...
Sep 12, 2008, 7:17:00 PM  

anon 11:51

Jackson now would be better than most of the clowns on the air.

If B Bowden and Paterno can still "coach" at 80 (and I'm being kind), cant we at least get a couple USC or UCLA home games a year ?

jg said...
Sep 12, 2008, 7:20:00 PM  

Those were the days, when Keith Jackson was reporting games! The blabber today is just disturbing and doesn't contribute anything of value.

As a teenager back in the '60s in Switzerland of all places, I became a fan of U.S. sports by being fascinated what I heard over the radio on the American Forces Network. Only years later did I realize that I was actually listening to were baseball games reported by Vince Scully. I was mesmerized by those broadcasts and the excitement they communicated. I doubt this would happen today. These icons of sports broadcasting will be missed and the quality has suffered. I'd welcome back Keith Jackson any time but in the meantime I wish him all the best enjoying games with a good glass of wine!

Anonymous said...
Sep 12, 2008, 11:16:00 PM  

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