We’re getting closer to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is to a very great extent all about tradition, and that’s what I feel compelled to write about.
I am not talking about a tradition involving apostrophes this time. It’s my other pet peeve – the tradition of listening to the announcers and then griping about them. Do any of you have the trogan fight song cued up on your CD player, so you can listen to it over and over again? Of course not. No one voluntarily sticks a wad of poison ivy in their shorts. Yet most of you – maybe all of you – continue to leave the sound up on your TV. You listen to someone tell you what you just saw, and you listen to an "expert" give deep insights into the game. As I write this, it is Sunday afternoon about a quarter to two. I am now going to turn up the sound, and I will give you the first thing that the color man says. It isthe Tampa Bay – Eagle game. A Tampa Bay guy just made a 40 yard punt return. I absolutely promise that this is what the color man said: "Huge change of field position there on that punt return." Really? I had to have the sound up for that? The sound is now off, and it will stay off. Permanently. Anyone who is unaware that a 40 yard punt return constitutes a "huge change of field position" is not going to be watching. The corollary is true: Anyone who is watching knows it already. Imagine the announcer at the Indianapolis 500: "And there's the flag and the race has started. Mario Spaghetti in the number 2 car moves ahead and... yes, HE TURNS LEFT!" And the color man, "Yes, Jim, he needed to make that big left turn there."
I again admonish all of you. Try the game without sound. You miss the roar of the crowd, but you can pretty much fill in what that would sound like based on you memory of similar noises. The crowd noise (and the 8-clap, which I don’t recall ever hearing on TV in any event) is a small, teeny, minuscule price to pay to not have listen to the announcers. I again admonish you, Bruin brothers and sisters. If you voluntarily listen to the announcers, you simply cannot complain about the announcers. Today is a good day to try it. Your emotions are calming down, and no matter what game you pick to watch without sound, you know you won’t miss an 8-clap or "Hills of Westwood." (Special added bonus – you don’t hear annoying commercials.)
So now, I dredge up an old comment I did a long, long time ago. This started when there was some lengthy complaining about Kirk Herbstreit. Listening to Herbstreit is worse than listening to announcers, by the way. The excuse for listening to announcers is because the game is on, and you have to suffer through the announcers to get the sights and sounds of the game. There is no excuse whatsoever for listening to Herbstreit give his opinion about a subject which each of you knows as well or better than he does. (Footnote: Nestor makes the point that someone must listen to what these talking heads (and I am being generous with my choice of parts of the anatomy being talked through) in order to make a record of their misstatements and misrepresentations about UCLA. I accept that, but that doesn’t mean he or she gets to moan and groan. He or she just reports. But I digress. ) Here is my old comment. Maybe it will get through to someone.
Sometimes Herbstreit’s head appears on my screen with his mouth moving, but I don’t hear what he’s saying. I never have understood how so many highly educated and highly intelligent brothers and sisters of mine can weep and gnash their collective teeth and rend their collective blue and gold clothing about how bad the announcers are when the power to resolve the issue is that one little button on the remote called "Vol."
A parable may help illustrate and educate. There was a man who went camping and wanted to build a fire. So he went to the next campsite to get a light. Seeing no one around, he picked up a handful of red hot coals to take back to his place and start his fire. Holding hot coals in his hand cause great pain, and how he complained. The red hot coals were not only painful, they were biased, because they hurt the palm of his hand more than his fingers. And they weren’t accurate. And they were nonsensical. But more than anything, they caused constant, incessant, unendurable pain. But the man wanted his campfire lit, so he kept those coals clenched tightly in his hand, lest he drop one and miss the benefit that it would confer. Indeed, he kept those coals in his hand until they simply went out. After that, he went on his favorite campfire blog and found that many of his friends were also typing one-handed because they, too, had burned their hands by holding red hot coals.
Then an older, more geezerly sage, pointed out that all of their pain could have been avoided had they just dropped the coals and used their lighter, which strangely enough resembles the volume button on a tv remote. That sage also reminded them that every time they picked up those hot coals, they got burned, and it caused tremendous pain. He noted that all of these poor souls were smart enough to know that the stuff that looked like flames probably was flames. He asked them, "Brothers and sisters, why do you inflict such pain on yourself when it could so easily be avoided?" "Oh foolish geezer," they said. "We scoff at you. Yea, we scorn your advice. We have to pick up the coals. We have always picked up the coals. The coals are our friends, because they provide all sorts of things that we can’t do without. How could we tell whether our campfire was actually burning just by looking at it. We have to have those coals always burning our hands to make us aware that our campfire is, indeed, burning. We simply cannot know if our campfire is burning otherwise. If we dropped Herbstreit or the Lavinoma, we will lose those precious insights." The geezerly sage replied, "Tell me then what these great benefits are, so that I too can learn why it’s so desireable to have hot coals causing me the great pain that you complain about."
Yea and verily, no one could answer the geezer. All was quiet, except for more complaints about how much pain the coals caused. The geezer sighed and walked away, back out into the wilderness, wondering when his voice would be heard. Alas, it came to pass that the volume button was directed at the geezerly sage, who only wanted to end the pain which his brothers and sisters were inflicting on themselves. His voice became weaker and weaker. And then his brother and sisters started misusing the apostrophe, and the geezerly sage wept bitter tears.
Thus endeth the reading of the parable. Go and listen no more.