At the conclusion of the United States Open golf tournament the winner, Brooks Koepka, hugged his girlfriend. Announcer Joe Buck misidentified her while commentating on it. Apparently, Koepka and his previous girlfriend recently broke up and someone on the Fox Sports team handed Buck a card with the wrong information. Another announcer corrected Buck moments later.
At first glance, it’s pretty easy to shrug your shoulders and say it was a minor mistake, it really wasn’t Buck’s fault. I disagree. The job of a sports announcer is not particularly easy. You have to be interesting and add relevance to the sport you are talking about. You have to have a good speaking voice and a nice sense of timing. There are a number of things that require talent, and some people have more of that than others. However, there is one thing any announcer can do, prepare. Being a sports announcer requires a tremendous amount of groundwork.
We like to think an announcer simply shows up a few minutes before the event and then comments as things unfold. Nothing could be further from the truth, at least for an announcer who is really trying. I’m a huge sports fans and I’ve heard announcers over the years who don’t even know the names of the players on the field. Good announcers get the rosters beforehand and learn pertinent information about the athletes, they don’t wait for someone to hand them a card filled with interesting tidbits.
Koepka won the event quite handily and Buck had at least thirty minutes to prepare for what was coming. In addition, Koepka was in good position going into the final round, he was considered one of the favorites. There was plenty of time to confirm the names wives and girlfriends of potential winners in case of a celebratory hug. Buck might have said something about how the new relationship was off to an obviously good start. That’s the sort of thing excellent announcers spot and capitalize upon.
The willingness to do the hard work of preparation is one of the main differences between a good announcer and a bad one. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not even saying most announcers take the time to perform the groundwork as required. I’m just suggesting Buck should have done more and he is ultimately responsible for the failure.
It’s not the end of the world, but it is something the people who decide on announcer for next year’s U.S. Open would do well to consider. There is a lot of competition in this world and someone is always looking to take your job. The lesson to be learned? Be prepared. Buck wasn’t.
By Tom Liberman
Tom Liberman is a regular fellow from St. Louis, Mo., who enjoys spending time with his wonderful family and great friends. He writes Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels in his spare time.