There is an expression often used by sports commentators when an athlete does something outstanding; they say ‘that will make the highlight reel’. You can see just how old that adage is by the use of the word reel, referring to the time when teams put out end-of-season films featuring the best plays of the year. I have never been one to watch these highlights. I enjoy watching a number of sports in their full game state. But a program made up of one highlight after another is not my cup of tea. They all look the same after just a short time. However, I understand there are those folks who get their fill of sports via these little snippets.
What has always struck me as being totally asinine is the use of audio highlights on radio.
I like radio, it can be a wonderful thing to sit back and have someone talk to you. Radio broadcasts of baseball games on a hot summer night sitting outside are the things memories are made of. But what has always struck me as being totally asinine is the use of audio highlights on radio. The first time I heard this was during the nineties when the Expos were still in Montreal and on the morning after a game the radio station that carried the games would have a recap of the game that was punctuated with snippets of audio from the broadcast. I didn’t care how the play was described, if I can’t see it just tell me the score.
But when you play a recording of, for example, a home run it is actually the announcer’s call that is being featured not the home run because you can’t see it!
Radio stations now routinely feature clips of play-by-play in their sportscasts. When you televise a highlight you are focusing on the athlete who has performed the feat. But when you play a recording of, for example, a home run it is actually the announcer’s call that is being featured not the home run because you can’t see it!
On a television highlight, I can see the shortstop dive to make a great grab, somehow flip the ball to the second baseman who touches the base then wheels and fires to first to complete the double play. Wonderful athleticism, great skill, fantastic reflexes, and strength.
On an audio highlight I can hear a guy describe the play … Great pipes, lovely cadence, fine vocabulary, but the play takes a back seat to the announcer.
On an audio highlight I can hear a guy (it is usually men) describe how the shortstop dove to make a great stop, somehow flipped the ball to the second baseman who touched the base then wheeled and fired to first to complete the double play. Great pipes, lovely cadence, and fine vocabulary, but the play takes a back seat to the announcer. In fact, they should call them announcer, not sports highlights.
And God forbid you should have to listen to audio highlights of a soccer game: ten different versions of GOOOOAAAALLLLLLL