I'm getting to the point now that ex-pro-athletes-turned-broadcasters are starting to get under my skin something awful. It's like walking on red ants while rubbing yourself with a lotion made of poison oak extract -- it's that's painful.
Whether it's the upstart Fox Sports 1, ESPN or NBC Sports Network, the onslaught of sports programming on multiple sports networks have for some reason prompted a dusting off of ex-athletes as opposed to the hiring of true broadcast professionals.
Does it really take a former pro to describe the game in that much detail? Most of what they say is insider gibberish, while most of us common fans are trying to decipher what they said before the next play. As a broadcast pro, it's time I stick up for my brethren in the profession.
When we talk about the greatest of all-time behind the microphone, rarely do we speak about an ex-athlete. Al Michaels is one of the best on TV and started his career by calling minor league baseball games -- not by playing in them. Vin Scully, one of the most revered in the profession, had a playing career that lasted all of a few seasons, roaming the outfield at Fordham University before heading to the booth. He learned his craft by working in the profession, not by playing the game.
Now most of us with an interest as broadcasters played the game at some low level, which allows us two understandings. One, we know the basics of the game and how to play it the most successful way possible, and two, we knew the limitations of our playing abilities so much that we decided long ago to give up the sport on the field and head to the booth.
Now as we try to make a living, an ex-athlete trying to make ends meet financially because he's no longer making what he once was as a player, is taking jobs away from us simply because they wore a uniform number while we worked the frequency number.
I had this discussion with our head soccer coach Simon Tobin the other day. Simon who's originally from England, said even "back home" they ex-players they use to call soccer matches are awful and he wonders how that player was ever allowed behind a microphone.
I'm glad this has turned into an international problem.
There's nothing wrong with a few ex-jocks, some of them have developed their craft considerably over the last few years. Guys like former Cowboys' quarterback Troy Aikman and former Bengals' receiver Chris Collingsworth come to mind, but then again I think Collingsworth's broadcast career has far-exceeded his time on the field.
Athletes are to be interviewed, not conducting the interviews. They are there to play the game not talk about the game.
And when they're finished, the natural transition should be to the coaching sidelines, not the microphone.
Leave that to the pros.
COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Director of New Media and Broadcasting for California State University Bakersfield.