Tag Archives: Brandi Chastain

The London 2012 Medal Ceremony for…TV Announcing

15 Aug

Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where we thank the London Olympics for quite ably helping to fill the annual “Dog Days” sports abyss.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t spend a lot of time on social media during the Olympics.  I didn’t want to see any spoilers, and even more frankly, I didn’t want my experience of the Games ruined by the constant NBC-bashing that went on.  It wasn’t that bad, people.  Sure, they made some hard decisions, and they could have done better.  But they didn’t exactly have it easy: sponsor/advertiser demands, the advent of social media and – most challenging – a 6-hour time delay.  It’s a lot harder than it looks, folks…and if you want live coverage, go online.

Still, I watched a lot of coverage, and I tried to see all sports at least once.  So I feel I’m able, as well as anyone, to award medals in the spirit of the Olympics to some TV announcers who I felt did a particularly good job.

Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines by the pool (photo courtesy of BusinessInsider.com)

Gold – Swimming.  Sure, the USA has a ton of compelling storylines/material in the pool to show off, but Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines are as good at mentioning-yet-not-overplaying storylines and calling the action as it gets.  Hicks has a knack for saying memorable (and not cheesy) things as big news happens, and Gaines provides the emotion and context – exactly what he’s supposed to do.  Take a bow, guys.

Silver – Track and Field.  I’m not as wild about Tom Hammond as other people are, but the fact is he’s a solid play-by-play guy who never gets it flat-out wrong.  He had some big moments with Usain Bolt and company, and did well with them.  And Ato Boldon might have done the finest work of any color announcer in London.

Bronze – Judo.  I watched Kayla Harrison’s gold medal match and victory live, and I was beyond impressed with how a lower-tier, inexperienced announcing team could bring home the match and moment in a way that caused tears. They helped a complete judo novice like me understand the sport, how you score points, etc.  And then they put Kayla’s accomplishment in the proper context both emotionally and athletically.  Big points were scored by the men in the booth.

And then…there were some Not-So-Great Announcing Efforts too:

  • Brandi Chastain, soccer.  She knows the game as well as anyone, and is a flat-out icon for her role in the U.S. 1999 World Cup win.  But that almost always results in her speaking to the viewers in jargon that most of us don’t understand.  Plus, she’s unable to separate her emotions from an objective broadcast, which results in ruined goal moments (with “OH!” and other missteps) and scenarios like the extra-time exhaustion in the semis against Canada where I felt like I was being shouted at for the last 30-40 minutes of the game.  It was intense and memorable, yes, but describe that with words…don’t just raise your tone, say the same things constantly and sound out of breath.  The Hope Solo fiasco didn’t help either.
  • Cynthia Potter, diving.  She was actually better in London than I’ve heard her in the past, but she’s still the quickest trigger color commentator when it comes to seeing something happen and then immediately criticizing it.  She usurps Ted Robinson, a very good play-by-play guy, in doing so, which only reinforces the impression that she’s the ultimate know-it-all.  Again, there were times when she let the action breathe…and the viewer actually watch the action before she told us how we should intepret it.  But those times were few, and it was incredibly grating.
  • Al Trautwig, gymnastics.  Nowhere in its coverage portfolio does NBC build up stories – and edit out/around the competition – more than in gymnastics.  And Al is more than willing to play along, never letting a chance pass to remind the viewer about a key storyline.  He also had perhaps the worst call of any historic moment in London when he said “The Fab Five are going gold.”  Yawn.  Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlagel are intense, but I think they are wonderful when it comes to explaining why something is good or bad and how judges arrive at their scoring decisions.  Tim’s insight into what it’s like to be a gymnast – and in the gymnastics community – is terrific as well.  Too bad it’s all overshadowed by Al’s cheese.

So congratulations to the above for their accomplishments.  We’ll have to see how NBC handles Sochi 2014.

That’s all for now.  I’m out like Michael Phelps.

Your Pre-Olympics “Cashing In” Preview

16 Jul

Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where we’re thinking of declaring a 6-week vacation for the Olympics…like the WNBA.

One of the things I find most fascinating about sports and marketing is how little-known athletes can do something great and burst onto the scene, become national darlings, cash in on their fame with one or more endorsement deals and then fade away almost as quickly.  Sometimes these figures become enduring legends (think Mary Lou Retton or Brandi Chastain), and can parlay their accomplishments into a lifelong career.  But most of the time, the only things these athletes have after 6-12 months are the medals they won and the cash they earned while they were still in the limelight.

Each time an Olympics comes around, I try to predict which athletes will emerge in similar fashion.  So…which under-the-radar athletes will captivate America, get their face on a Wheaties box and cash in on their fame during/after the 2012 London Olympics – and maybe even become a legend?  Try these three:

1)  Jordyn Wieber, gymnastics.  This one’s easy, folks.  Every four years America’s Fabulous Five dominate discussion for 1-2 weeks, and at least one of them becomes one of the faces of the Games for the USA.  In Beijing, it was Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin.  This year my money’s on Jordyn Wieber.  She’s as accomplished, rock solid and cool under pressure as any member of Team USA – which is why she has emerged as the de facto leader of the squad.  And it doesn’t hurt that the team is favored to win gold.  Talk about photo ops.

2)  Missy Franklin, swimming.  She dominated the Olympic trials and will be swimming about as many events in London as Michael Phelps – so the Olympics should be her coming-out party on the big stage.  Natalie Coughlin, Phelps and all the USA swimming greats call her the next big thing.  And she’s 17, meaning she should be no flash in the pan.  Get ready to hear about Missy for a long time to come.

3)  Ashton Eaton, track and field.  He’s the best athlete you’ve never heard of – he’s a top decathlete, and a world record holder in the heptathlon.  If he lives up to form and can win gold in the decathlon (and officially earn the title of world’s best athlete), why can’t he join sprinters like Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin on the track and field mantle?

Honorable Mention: Ryan Lochte, Allyson Felix and Hugh McCutcheon.  But these athletes and coach aren’t really under the radar…

That’s all for now.  I’m out like Blake Griffin.

(Photo Credits: all photos from TeamUSA.org)