Saturday, 20 September 2008

Josh Howard

It would be inaccurate to say that there are no great sports announcers in America, but certainly many are indistinguishable from one another. This is already apparent with the colorless comments viewers must endure during the course of a game, but it becomes especially clear with the deluge of self-righteousness that obtains whenever a professional athlete does something controversial. Whether a touchdown celebration - universally loved by fans, perhaps because they remain the sole unscripted aspect of the NFL - or, of recent occurrence, Josh Howard's comments on the American national anthem, the level of moralism reaches truly ridiculous heights.

Professional sports definitely occupy an uncomfortable position between morality and art, politics and entertainment; everything ought to be about teamwork, but the players themselves are personalities who, like musicians and comedians, test the limits and break the rules, sometimes admirably so and sometimes not. Fans are attuned to both aspects, while today's commentators, I think, fail to see the gray area in between. In the current context, Josh Howard's comments weren't funny, but only in the sense that a lot of jokes people tell amongst their boys and record on a cell phone aren't. I'm sure he wouldn't have said the same thing during an interview; if he did, he could rightfully be judged on political terms (though even then one would hope to see a mix of viewpoints).

Best Sports Announcers/Commentators:
1) Michael Wilbon/Tony Kornheiser
2) Bill Walton/Snapper Jones
3) Joe Morgan/Jon Miller
4) Hubie Brown
5) Ernie Johnson/Kenny Smith/Charles Barkley
6) Phil Chenier/Steve Buckhantz
7) Greg Anthony

1) Stephen A. Smith
2) Skip Bayless
3) Jim Gray
4) Mike & Mike
5) Andrea Kramer
6) Suzy Kolber
7) Sonny Jurgensen

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