This year's NCAA Tournament would have to stub its toe repeatedly and offer up a spate of boring games down the stretch to not go down as one of the greatest in history. Through three days, it's had everything, like a family-friendly version of whichever club Stefon visited over the weekend that's still raging on and flouting COVID restrictions. Upsets. Star performances. The triumphant return of Loyola Chicago. We are all experiencing fun at such a high and consistent level that it's becoming harder to know what to do with our hands.
And as always, Turner/CBS has been up to the monumental challenge March Madness presents. To sit down for 13 hours in front of a television is to be bombarded with splendid work from a deep stable of talented play-by-play announcers and analysts. From Brian Anderson to Ian Eagle to Jim Nantz to Grant Hill to Lisa Byington to Bill Raftery and Steve Lavin, there's no shortage of competent tour guides to help us navigate the cascading waters of non-stop exhilaration. And while it's always nice to recognize the forward-facing talent, a thought dawned on me during a commercial break.
Are sports networks doing enough to highlight some of the people most responsible for these telecasts? Wouldn't it be nice to know about the producers and directors in the truck, who are spinning thousands of plates at once and making exponentially more editorial decisions than the broadcasters?
Forgive the navel-gazing but the few occasions I've been able to observe a production truck in action have been among the most exhilarating professional experiences I've had. Everything moves incredibly fast, there is no margin for error, and putting together a mistake-free three hours is a Herculean effort. And that's just for a passible effort free of any graphic typos or glitches that get plastered on sports blogs, this one included. To create something memorable and moving is truly art.
This year, the degree of difficulty is even higher with a dearth of fan-reaction shots to draw upon. These have long been staples of the televised tournament experience. Yet up to this point, savvy visionaries have worked around the issue without making any part of the tapestry feel empty. The painting to the corners is still happening with fewer resources and its seamlessness is a testament to the brilliance.
Because on one hand the best directors and producers are like officials. If you're not at home thinking about what they're doing, it's a sign they're doing a good job. Still, it would be a nice addition to have their names get more recognition so viewers can learn their names and specific styles.
Think about it. Film enthusiasts delight in studying the choices made by those overseeing the movie. It doesn't hamper their enjoyment of the actors' performances of the plot. It adds layer and texture as another avenue of thought. Giving viewers the choice to do just that with live sports events requires virtually no added effort.
Oftentimes there will be a more detailed announcement of the braintrust in the truck at the top of broadcasts, but it is usually voiced over as the ball is about to tipped or kicked and gets buried by an avalanche of competition. An easy fix to this would be to include the names during the establishing shot of the announcers welcoming an audience to the show. There's precious little manpower needed to add the names of some key personnel below the booth's names and the people tasked with doing that work would greatly appreciate it.
Selfless play-by-play voices often do this on their own accord, truly living up to their cliched "point guard" or "traffic cop" descriptors. But they shouldn't have to go out of their way to do it. It's long past time to normalize presenting a fuller and more noticeable picture of who is responsible for all the moving pictures and moving emotions we're grateful to share.