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Free Speaking In The Booth

by Tom King

As someone who has done play-by-play for many years the recent spat between St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Cleveland Browns broadcaster Bernie Kosar has piqued my interest. In case you missed it Kosar was very critical of the Rams receivers and back up QB Kellen Clemens in a game from Thursday night. Fisher didnt take kindly to the criticism and said he had lost alot of respect for Kosar . He said he was surprised by the "lack of respect" that Kosar showed for the players and the game of football. The thing is...Kosar was doing his job...maybe in a less than respectful way...but still, former players have long been criticized for their work in the booth. They have either been mush-mouthed or they refuse to be critical of guys they played with or know even when they deserve it. 

I've done high school sports broadcasts for many years and it's always a fine line when describing less than stellar play...my position has always been that if these athletes can accept all of the praise and accolades they recieve...they can handle a little criticism as well. And as someone who has coached high school athletes for over 30 years I can tell you most of them will be the first to tell you when they screwed up or when they thought they should have made a play and didnt. 

Pro athletes are paid big bucks to perform and when they don't the announcers covering the game shouldnt be forced to ignore it even if they are employed by the team involved. I would hope that Kosar would be as critical of inept play by the Browns as well as their opponents. If not, why not?

One of the things that really annoys me about athletes today is this idea of being "disrespected". Pitchers in baseball seem to be the worst at this. They will throw at a hitter if he looks at them cross-eyed or takes too long on a home run trot. But this phenomenon is not only in baseball. How many interviews have the line "he disrespected me" of something to that effect when some brouhaha breaks out.

A color man in the booth (regardless if he or she is a former player) should be expected to describe what he sees and call a player out if he thinks he's loafing or just not very good. We as viewers and listeners should embrace this kind of honesty and should realize that if a color man is pissing people off on occasion...he must be doing his job. 

If you want pictures of what the Athletic Park facade looks like now you better get down there soon. The Wausau landmark will be undergoing major renovations that have already begun and will really ramp us this week. 

Songs of the Day  (from my I-pod)

Mandolin Wind-Rod Stewart (1971) a classic track from the "Every Picture Tells a Story" LP. Ray Jackson of the under-rated band Lindisfarne plays the mandolin.

Manic Depression-Jimi Hendrix (1967) there is no evidence that Hendrix had the condition. He wrote the song after his manager had told him that he sounded like a manic-depressive at a news conference.