A few months ago, I joined a Facebook group for play-by-play sportscasters.
Most of the posts are requests for advice, “I’m calling soccer for the first time, what should I know?” or photos of broadcast setups, “here’s my vantage point for the Greater Paducah basketball semifinals.” It was nice to see what equipment fellow play-by-play people were using and to discuss the issues we all face.
Then, the other day, someone posted an innocent inquiry. It concerned etiquette when broadcasting a potential no-hitter in baseball or softball. That’s a game in which a pitcher pitches the entire game without allowing a hit. There’s a time-honored tradition of not mentioning the no-hitter in progress for fear of jinxing it. All of us in the sportscasting business have had the experience of saying “Billy Bob has made his last 14 free throws in a row” only to see him miss the next one. I choose the old fashioned way.
Does it matter if we say it or not? Of course not. There are ways of letting your audience know there’s a no-hitter in progress without “jinxing” it. “Eight hits in the game tonight, all of them by Geneva.” Ah, but this is America in 2018. No question is too unimportant to start a social media flame war. Soon, battle lines were drawn. What I assume are mostly younger sportscasters let us traditionalists know not only that we were wrong, but that we were doing a gross injustice to our listening audiences and were probably bed-wetting communists.
One member in particular was especially vocal in asserting his moral superiority over those who disagreed with him. My guess is that I have been a play-by-play broadcaster for several years longer than he has been alive and that he might be able to learn a thing or two from someone who’s been doing it for 40 years. For that matter, I might be able to learn a thing or two from him.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know. I’m no longer a member of the group.