Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Universal-ly Off

Tuesday night we, a few of the Kids, gathered at the "Office", locally known as Lucky Lab brew pub in Multnomah. It's the unsual late spring/summer Tuesday night gathering site for three reasons - 1) it the closest best spot after the Tuesday Night Rides/Races out of Tualatin Park, 2) Tightwad Tuesday make pints and pitchers almost reasonably priced, and 3) TT can get an ESB while the rest of us rehydrate with the much tastier IPAs. Of course the fourth, unwritten, reason is to rehash in micro-detail the ride. Last Tuesday it was a quick rehash and better exaggerations were found in Lash's Tales of Trek - or how his Madone broke once again while on a major ride - this time the Lost Coast Century in northern California. His re-Lash can be summed up in a handful of unprintable four-letter words strung together with angry hyphens and accented with hand-gestured exclamation marks. Needless to say Trek has become his newest four-letter word. But he saved a few words for our next topic - Universal Sports' Giro announcers.

After the first pitcher we moved onto the recent Pros chasing pink - the Giro d'Italia. We all amore la Giro just finished. We love the climbs, the podium girls, and the tifosi. Above all we love its unpredictability. It doesn't suffer from the TdF cookie-cutter format of prologue-pancake flats-climbs-rolling flats-climbs-TT-Paris. What we have a love-hate relationship with is Universal Sports coverage. We love the fact that US had the cojones to step over Versus, pay La Gazzetta dello Sport,
and broadcast the Giro - we will be eternally grateful. What we hate are the US announcers. Okay, we grant them the same get-out-of-jail-free card Phil & Paul get in July, because they are taking the TV feed from the event organizers and can't help it if the producer sits on a camera shot of some Italian rider's crash while the attack is going off the front and the maglia rosa is at stake. But "Gogo" (is that really a name?) and Steve Schlanger are just too American. They're no Phil & Paul, but then we really don't want them to be, we want two new cycling announcers to help build a tradition around. But Universal listen up, a "multi-sport announcer" (per their own media release), doesn't work. They don't get this sport. They call it like any other three-pitch and kick a field goal sport and it doesn't work. Cycling is as much tradition and legend as cranksets and derailleurs, or to coin a book title, it is about "Blood, Sweat and Handlebar tape".

Here are our collective decisions - and after a couple of pints we know these decisions are as perfect as Coppi on a TdF Stage XX 162 km solo break over the d'Isoard.

  1. Get rid of Mr Multi-sport Schlanger and get a real cycling guy - visit Eurosport they have several.
  2. Turn down the shreak level on "Gogo" or get rid of him too.
  3. Buy all announcers three things - a) an Italian cultural guide book, b) dinner with Phil & Paul so they can learn how to pronounce the rider's names, and c) a paid vacation to Italy so they can visit the Ghisallo di Madonna and Coppi Museum to learn a little history and tradition of the sport, and then tour a few of the mainstay sites the Giro visits - in other words, get to know the place!!
  4. Finally, fire any announcer immediately who starts to scream** in the final 1k or exiting to a commercial break.
Finding a way to present the Giro to the American public is not just a Universal (sports) issue, it is a cycling issue. On the eve so-to-speak of Giro Director Angelo Zomegnan's lobbying to get his grand tour departing from Washington D.C. in 2012, it's important to connect the American sporting public to the culture of grand tour cycling. Cycling isn't just the start and finish of athletes on bicycles - it's legends, legendary moments, and the passion of those that ride and those that line the roads. Even Americans can learn to love that - they just need presenters to connect them.

Giro’s toughest stage? Getting to DC in 2012

**just by some weird coincidence I heard Steve Schlanger announcing a swimming meet that came on immediately after one of the Giro stages - only because I went, "wait, I know that obnoxious screeching voice" did I pause and watch (listen) to a bit of swimming. Yip, it was him, same delivery, same generically inane commentary, with a rise in screeching tone just before race finishes and departures to commercials - ergh! this is the curse of the American "multi-sport announcer".

No comments:

Post a Comment