Why Is Everybody So Upset That Chris Berman Will Call One Game On ESPN This Year?

  • Eric Goldschein

Based on the reaction of Twitter users and writers on respected websites like Deadspin, you’d think that Chris Berman had been announced as your mother’s next boyfriend, rather than the play-by-play announcer of a single Monday Night Football game.

That’s right, folks: Chris Berman, the 28-year-man (of hosting Sunday NFL Countdown) out of Brown University will team up with everybody’s least favorite Disney World customer, Trent Dilfer, to call the second game of the 2012-13 season’s Monday Night Football double header. And as mentioned earlier, people are not pleased about it.

Why are people upset? It seems to boil down to a few reasons, and even those reasons boil down to an even simpler issue: They find Chris Berman annoying. It’s his catchphrases. The way he over-dramatizes the little things. His tendency of drawing vowels to the point of verbal diarrhea explosion. And these gripes are (mostly) founded, and (mostly) good enough reason to dislike a TV personality. You will be hearing his voice for the better part of three hours, after all.

And yet, some of this vitriol seems to stem out of knee-jerk reactionary hatred for a man who has done his job, if not well, then competently and entertainingly for the last few decades. Here’s what a Deadspin article had to say about listening to Boomer:

Every time Tirico throws to Berman for a halftime preview during MNF, I tear both labrums reaching for the mute button.

He’ll grab the spotlight and swallow it whole, along with an entire bottle of hydrocodone.

There are a lot of people I don’t like listening to — teachers, my dad when he asks me when I’m going to get a real job, Reggie Miller (more on that later). But never do I react to the point of tearing the cartilage in my shoulders in an attempt to turn them off.

Here’s a take from Bleacher Report:

As if “First Take” wasn’t enough of a reminder, this news—this spit out my Starbucks news—is a slap-across-the-face reminder of how much ESPN owns sports and, conversely, us. They are sports in this country. ESPN sets the standards, makes the rules, creates the narrative. They can do whatever they want, and we’ll take it…

It’s true that ESPN and SportsCenter are part of the very fabric of sports in this country, and to be a sports fan nowadays is to absorb their 24-hour-news cycle into your regimen. But to say that this is an example of ESPN‘s ownership of me? That I’ll just “accept” Chris Berman as my announcer because ESPN can run wily-nily over my emotions, hopes and dreams? That’s giving a television channel entirely too much credit. A dude who talks a lot about football is being enlisted to talk about football, live. That is the “narrative” here. And I will “accept” it the same way I’ve accepted all the other annoying sportscasters over the years, in all sports, on all stations.

Basically, people are freaking out about Berman being allowed to call this game and it’s a prime example of our instant gratification/social media/clusterfuck Internet lifestyle taking something too far. It’s a single game, people. This guy has been talking sports for a long, long time, and now he wants a crack at doing it on Monday Night Football, in the booth, and we should give it to him. If we want to accept the hypothesis that ESPN “owns” us, we shouldn’t want to tear out labrums (ugh) upon hearing his voice. We’ve done that for countless of hours already and somehow managed to survive.

A good analogy, I believe, is Reggie Miller. As a life-long Knicks fan who happened to be the attendance the night Reggie tore our hearts out with eight points in nine seconds, I have been aggravated by his appearance as a broadcaster on prime time television. His voice alone makes me angry. In fact, I’ve tweeted in the past about how his voice pisses me off.

And yet, all I’ve had to do is the same thing anyone does when faced with a tough situation: get past it. I didn’t stop watching TNT. I didn’t stop watching basketball. I didn’t even mute the TV, preferring some kind of noise to watching sports in silence like some kind of nutjob. And the reason I did that was simple: I love basketball. And I love those who are passionate about the sport the same way I am, like Reggie “Fuckface” Miller. I also love football, and those who call it with the same passion as I might, stupid classic rock catchphrases aside. He may be annoying, he may be old-fashioned, he may be full of himself — and he joins a long list of people who call games far, far more often than he does.

So to those who consider Berman’s presence an affront to their sensitive ears, and think that ESPN is “heartless” for allowing such a tragedy, I have a bit of advice: calm down. Awful Announcing, in reference to Boomer covering the U.S. Open, said that “god forbid a sports media titan pass the crown to a younger more deserving person every once in awhile.” Buddy — he’s not porking your mom. He’s doing his job. And those who consider him unworthy of his place in the sport sound like the mosquitoes that Berman lazily waves away, sitting on the porch of his Maui estate, Trent Dilfer’s hand in his.

[And yes, I recognize that some of this stuff is intentionally over-the-top, for entertainment’s sake. But it comes from a real place. And if Boomer can get shit for saying “Live and let Addai” then so can these people for their ridiculousness.]