Welcome to the first installment of the "The Week that Was" (title pending), a look back at the good and bad in sports columns from the past seven days.
To begin, we look at Euro 2008, where something unbelievable is taking place: quality announcing.
In his article that we posted on Wednesday, George Vecsey of the New York Times recognized Euro 2008 broadcast analyst, Andy Gray, as the revelation of the tournament – and I wholeheartedly agree. It's not just that he "knows the game," as Vecsey points out, but, perhaps more importantly, he portrays the feeling that he's actually speaking his mind. Without choosing a side, he's been consistent in telling the audience exactly how he sees it, whether its criticism or compliments. This has to be the most important element for an analyst to convey to the audience. How many times have you watched in super-slo-mo a completely blown call in an NBA game, while the announcers go completely silent?
I don't know what it is about other sports. Maybe the networks don't like raw opinions from the analysts or maybe some analysts just don't care as much. But whatever parties are responsible, I hope they're watching. Andy Gray should certainly be applauded for his work this tournament.
And now, for the weekly "I'm sorry for getting caught, I'll use different words next time…..I promise" story from this week:
Unfortunately, we had to suffer through yet another public apology for an inappropriate comment made by someone in the public eye. This time it was Jemele Hill of ESPN apologizing, posted here on Tuesday, for referencing Hitler in one of her latest columns.
Much like Don Imus has proved, saying you're sorry, taking it back, promising to change, or even adding perspective (which is what Hill says she'll do), can allow you to keep your job. But is it really worth it? It seems the cost of staying afloat is having to justify every borderline or "sarcastic" remark that you make for the rest of your career. Is it worth always toeing the line that, if crossed, will require yet another apology or statement saying how the public misinterpreted what you said?
When the media is waiting to pounce on the slightest hiccup, and you're already on thin ice, it just doesn't seem to be the type of environment that can foster a truly honest opinion. How can you possibly say what you really want to say?
If you haven't had enough racially-slanted faux pas, read how Jason Whitlock feels about Imus' latest foot-in-the-mouth, or I guess its more accurate to read about how he doesn't feel. It must be hard being the guy (or one of them) who's supposed to have an opinion on every hyped-up race-related non-story the media can dig up. Thankfully, as you can read, Whitlock isn't biting.