On Favoritism In Broadcasting

Friday, September 12, 2008

This comes up every year when one fanbase decides that so and so announcer didn't treat their team with respect during a blowout or an upset win. The notion that an announcer or journalist should immediately drop their allegiances with a school or Sports team is something that has always bugged me.

Well recently two of ESPN's more highly profiled employees felt the need to defend themselves in the press after allegations of bias littered the Internet. Via the Florida Times-Union comes Erin Andrews' defense and via the USA Today comes Kirk Herbsreit's rebuttal....

Erin Andrews: "I was upset when I heard this was an issue," Andrews said in a phone interview with the Times-Union. "I'm no dummy. I know people look at me in a different way. I know there's people when I go back to Florida, they say, 'Aha, she's biased [toward UF].' But there's an absolute separation between my feeling for the school and my reporting. If I once showed favoritism [on the air] or acted out in a biased way, [ESPN] would get rid of me in a minute." (Editor's Note: I seriously doubt that)

Kirk Herbstreit: "But I'm paid to have an objective viewpoint," he says. "I work so hard, I work so hard during games that I don't have a rooting interest."

He realizes that "you can't please everybody" but is understandably proud that he manages to do that even with fans of archrival Michigan: "I can't tell you have often I hear from Michigan fans — it's probably 100-1 — that even though I'm a Buckeye, they say they appreciate my objectivity."

Still, Herbstreit acknowledges the obvious, that he can't escape being "human." He doesn't make on-air pregame picks on games he's calling. (In the wake of Ohio State's lackluster win against Ohio last week, he will say that the "Buckeyes have been bored the past two weeks. If they lose against USC, it won't be because of how they played Ohio.")
It has to be extremely hard to not root for a team you actually played for, but I think most broadcasters do a great job of not going over-the-top with it. As long as someone is professional on-air, I could care less what they do off the clock. Now if we're talking about Al Michaels and his penchant for rooting for teams he's presumably wagered on....that's a completely different story.

Herbstreit puts aside Buckeye pride (USA Today)
Andrews' objective: Silence accusations about bias (Florida Times-Union)
Erin Andrews Quells Rumors of Florida Favoritism (Sports By Brooks)

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 4:16 PM


the more i see that picture, the more i wish i had rooted for miami that game.


-dan said...
Sep 12, 2008, 4:33:00 PM  

KH: "But I'm paid to have an objective viewpoint,"

They certainly don't pay him to break news on coaching changes.

Sep 12, 2008, 4:47:00 PM  

Michaels doesn't root for teams. All he does is tweak the NFL for pretending to ignore that millions of people bet on the games. He's also more in touch with his audience than anyone ever. Nobody's even close to him.

Anonymous said...
Sep 12, 2008, 5:10:00 PM  

Herbie is the Brett Favre of broadcasting...just look at him, he's like a little kid out there.

GMoney said...
Sep 12, 2008, 5:24:00 PM  

Let's not forget this year's first example of favoritism, with Mark Jones and Bob Davie both going so over-the-top for Illinois and Juice Williams against Missouri, as AA noted in the Week 1 Pammy report.

Anonymous said...
Sep 12, 2008, 6:52:00 PM  

i remember on the first season of dream job someone ripped into a contestant for mentioning he went to stanford while doing a stanford highlight, then one of the anchors busted in and pointed out that the shows host, stu scott, is incredibly biased towards chapel hill all the time.

shits unavoidable, especially now that the criteria for being a broadcaster is strictly 'hey i played football!'

Mike Georger said...
Sep 12, 2008, 7:09:00 PM  

Herbstreit is paid to be objective ? Then he needs to write a check to ESPN for overpayment.

jg said...
Sep 12, 2008, 7:11:00 PM  

I would agree, Mike. For the most part I think announcers do a good job of being objective and not letting their aligince to a school change how they report. The one exception is Stu Scott, who can't say anything objective about UNC.

Anonymous said...
Sep 12, 2008, 8:18:00 PM  

Not smart ESPN on Herbie's halftime hit to graphic 'Collision at Coliseum' while CNN has a story of train collision in California"

Anonymous said...
Sep 12, 2008, 9:55:00 PM  

Anon 9:55

Yeah, I'm sure ESPN knew at the time exactly what CNN was reporting.


Anonymous said...
Sep 13, 2008, 2:31:00 AM  

As a Michigan fan Herby is about the only osu sports analyst who's trancended his buckeyeness and is about likeable in my household. Robert Smith or whatever the failed running backs' name is blatantly an osu homer.

Anonymous said...
Sep 13, 2008, 5:03:00 AM  

Brent Musberger needs to give up trying to talk - he needs some Denture Grip and a new job. He cannot be objective whatsoever.

Anonymous said...
Sep 13, 2008, 9:04:00 PM  

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