I have a confession to make, I love sports and I love to hate Joe Buck. Buck is one of the most popular sportscasters in the industry today and his father Jack Buck is a sports radio and TV legend. However, the younger Buck is a much less beloved figure, likely because in our modern age many sports fans dislike anyone who is not cheering on “their” team. While i’ve beat up on Joe Buck in the past, that’s all going to stop after a recent interview he gave to the Sporting News.
In recent years America’s sports have become as politicized as everything else in our nation, with sports giant ESPN even purposefully advocating for popular liberal positions. Sportswriters, sports radio show hosts, and sports TV personalities have all taken it upon themselves to venture away from the games and into our political squabbles… and most of America has grown tired of it. The previously mentioned ESPN has seen their ratings plummet in the wake of their decision to veer into the leftwing world of political advocacy. The NFL saw its ratings crater this season as many NFL’ers publicly supported Colin Kaepernick’s decision to disrespect our nation’s flag. Only Major League Baseball has continued to flourish financially, and they’re the one league that has purposely attempted to stay out of the political limelight.
Joe Buck has noticed the trends, he’s seen the sports personalities offering their take on politics and he’s noticed the way others in the industry have decided to begin advocating for political chance, and he has a message for them…
Buck spoke strictly from his own standpoint as an NFL/MLB game announcer. But pushing political hot buttons during an NFL or MLB game telecast is bound to anger viewers, he said.
“I think people watch these games to get away from that stuff. I think you risk alienating, and upsetting, a lot of people when you start going down that rabbit hole,” he told SN.
Later in his interview with the Sporting News, Buck elaborated further:
SN: Should game announcers stick to sports? How did you deal with Colin Kaepernick’s protest on the air last season? And how would you deal with a similar political protest by a player this season?
JB: It’s hard. …There are news shows that I watch, whether it’s on CNN or Fox. They’re debating these issues for an hour. If there’s something that kind of blends its way into politics, or some sort of racial situation or some sort of societal situation, I’ve got to be aware that another play or another pitch is about to happen. My job is to call the action. Not stand on a soapbox and go on and on and on about a point, and forget about the game.
I said this to a writer at The New York Times with regard to the Kaepernick situation: We don’t cover (the national anthem) during the regular season because of the timing before a kick. And never have. For the big events we do, obviously. With him kneeling, it was a story. I think our bosses wisely didn’t want to appear that we were just ignoring it. Because it was something that people were talking about. Certainly after the game and certainly during the game on social media. You have to address it. So we recorded him kneeling.
At some point early in the game, Richie Zyontz, our producer, said, “We’re going to roll into video of Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem, be ready for it.” That’s the time where you have to really prepare — and be ready. It’s to the point where I script that. I have to sit down beforehand and think, “If I have 15 seconds, which is the most I’m going to have, how am I going to use those 15 seconds to state what he’s doing, why he’s doing it and what the goal is for him doing it?”
It’s tough. Because we’re all on a play clock. You come out of that (commercial) break, you haven’t thought about it, you’re just trying to wing that — your words can get you in a lot of trouble. It’s a dangerous minefield to walk through in today’s world. Much more so than when my dad was doing this or Harry Caray was doing this. Everybody’s antenna is up. If you want to get yourself in trouble, come off half-cocked on this stuff. Just wing it and hope for the best. You better nail it. Because if you mis-speak in those 12 seconds, then you’re trying to get it back. It just becomes a mess.
Unless I’m completely wrong, and I know in this case I’m not, nobody’s tuning into the 49ers-Cowboys game to hear my political opinions, whether it’s about Trump, or Kaepernick or Flint, Michigan. That’s not why they’re watching a football game. It’s misplaced. I hear guys doing it at times. It seems self-serving. Like they want to inject themselves into the conversation. Wait for a talk show. Go on Bill Maher’s show. Bill O’Reilly. Whoever. I think people watch these games to get away from that stuff. I think you risk alienating and upsetting a lot of people when you start going down that rabbit hole.
Thank you, Joe Buck. We need more sports personalities with this kind of common sense.
People turn to sports for entertainment. Entertainment is a way to ESCAPE the everyday concerns that come with life, including politics. I love politics and covering the news, but when I tune in to a baseball game, I don’t want to hear the sportscasters talking politics… I want to focus on the game. So please, sports professionals, stick to sports.