Being a follower of the Carolina Panthers has its ups and downs. As the 2005 regular season approached, Panther fans were getting jazzed-up for great things -- after all, with healthy players back, a good draft and a Super Bowl appearance two years ago, greatness seemed their due. It still could be, but you still have to play one game at a time. Sixteen times. Before the playoffs. Before the Super Bowl.
Last Sunday, the Panthers opened at home against the New Orleans Saints. If you read the sports pages or saw the reports (or even the game) on TV, you know the Saints won 23-20. A downer for the Panthers and their fans. Congratulations to the Saints on the win. Their fans deserved it.
What? Come again? Their fans DESERVED it? That's like rubbing salt in an open wound if you're on the Panthers bandwagon. Well it was the theme of the day on the Fox Sports broadcast of the game. Obviously, if you are a mindless sports announcer like Ron Pitts and Tim Ryan on FOX sports, you truly believe that was the case. Otherwise, why would Pitts and Ryan -- especially Ryan continue to sing that song all game long?
I can understand saying the Saints players may want to play extra hard to show their support for the folks back in N'awlins, and to try to bring some joy to them in an otherwise tough time. But just say so and get off the dime! Quit reminding us of Katrina at every turn -- which it seemed painfully obvious they were trying to do.
Granted, such talk would be understandable if they were on the Saints Radio Network, since they'd be paid to promote the local team. But not on a supposedly "independent" telecast. I may be wrong, but I don't think Fox has an ownership stake in the Saints. Maybe I'm wrong, but I also don't recall hearing where Fox Sports said its announcers should blatantly favor one team over the other on their broadcasts this season. Maybe I missed that.
Pitts and Ryan could not have sounded more caught-up in the "let's help the Katrina evacuees by being pro-Saints" mindset if they'd have said such things as (these are made up, but not far off what was actually said!):
"He must be thinking of the folks back home with that catch..." or
"Everyone in America's probably hoping the Saints can win..."
It was ALMOST that bad. Truth be told, they really said things like: "This could bring a big lift to the people back home." and "You gotta love the way the Saints are playing so hard for their fans." I almost threw a shoe through the tube.
I sure hope the Fox Sports "suits" were paying attention. These two hopefully won't get to broadcast any more Saints games this year. And a note to other FOX announcers: How about laying off the "let's help cheer-up the Saints fans" kool-aid. IT'S A GAME!!! These guys get PAID to play it. They're really NOT playing it for their fans, they're playing it to keep themselves EMPLOYED. Oh, and by the way, at least half of your audience is pulling for the OTHER team.