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Monday 14 March 2022
After years of lackluster commentating on Monday Night Football, ESPN has giddily hired an all new 2022 crew, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (stolen from Fox Sports for something in the neighborhood of $100 million), thereby ensuring another year of lackluster commentating.
The labor of calling a football broadcast is divided into two roles: the play-by-play announcer who tells the fans who weren't looking what just happened on the field, and the color commentator who explains why what just happened was a good/bad thing. Good crews inform you about what you might not have noticed and teach you about football. Really good crews get you excited to see more. Then there's the Buck-Aikman combo.
Competent play-by-play announcing is an art, and each sport is a different discipline. I'll give Joe Buck credit for being far above average at calling baseball games, but after years and years of trying, he comes across as disinterested and generally ignorant of the football games he calls. If the announcer doesn't care about the game, why should anyone listen?
As for the other side of the booth, I might have been the only person in the world who didn't enjoy John Madden's broadcasts because he reduced his commentary to idiot-level "BAM"s and "YAK"s to reach the average television-watching moron, but Aikman appears to have the actual vocabulary of the average television-watching moron. As a teacher, he's more a substitute than tenured professor; he's proven completely unable to elevate the game. At least he's really grumpy.
So did ESPN buy themselves a good crew or a great crew? The Buck-Aikman combo certainly has me excited... to see what's on a different channel.