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)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.
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.")
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)