By: Jesse Taylor
I really don’t want to make this article about Warriors TV play-by-play man Bob Fitzgerald. It’s more an experiment in watching a sporting event while muting the broadcasters. Whether you’re a fan of the Warriors broadcast team or not, maybe my experience will help you decide if you want to give it a shot.
Like all great ideas, this one came from a Twitter interaction. In this case, it was with friend of WarriorsWorld Tommy Broughton (@GswFanLee). He said he was muting the game because he couldn’t take Fitzgerald’s act when the Warriors play the Lakers and Kobe Bryant. I had thought about doing this in the past, but hearing Tommy was going to actually do it made me decide to finally give it a shot.
So the plan was to watch the entire Warriors-Lakers game on mute and write about it for WarriorsWorld.
Thanks to the “Janet Jackson Super Bowl Nipple Rule,” all live sporting events are now shown on a short TV delay. This takes away the ability to sync the radio broadcast with the game action on TV. So my option was either complete silence or another form of audio in the background. I decided to give each a try.
Prior to the game, I interacted with a few other Warrior fans on Twitter and came across one who mutes every game. San Francisco’s Todd (@SaintTodd) listens to old school hip-hop on Sirius Backspin while watching his favorite hoop team. With the game on mute he finds himself more in tune with the intensity of the game.
He was exactly right.
As soon as CSN’s pregame show ended I hit the mute button on my remote. I’m immediately watching Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett staring and talking to me without being able to hear them. Pretty awkward. My wife is upstairs sick in bed, so I go check on the kids. My daughter is listening to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie” while my son reads a book. I hang with them a bit, and then head back over to the TV. JT is still playing as the game begins. Not a bad way to start my own 20/20 Experience.
It takes a bit of adjusting at first to get used to not hearing the normal sounds of the game on TV. Checking Twitter while watching a game has become a norm for me. It allows you to get a different take from the team’s beat writers, bloggers and fans. Without the broadcasters or whistles, there are no audio cues to help me know when to look back up at the TV while checking Twitter.
One thing that was an easy adjustment without audio was grasping the foul calls. I expected the lack of a whistle and broadcaster explanation to create a lag in my recognition. But the referee’s arm raise on each foul and the player’s body language immediately let’s you know what’s going on.
Timeouts work the same way.
After a first quarter of Justin Timberlake in the background, my daughter went to bed and my son joined me for the game. We went with no background audio for the second quarter.
My son was not happy with the soundlessness at first, but he quickly forgot about it and got into the game. We began talking about the game ourselves, which was the best part of this experiment. Typically when we watch a game together and he starts talking, I find myself tuning him out because I’m also trying to hear what Fitzgerald, Barnett or Ric Bucher are saying on TV.
What a waste that was. I’d much rather engage in a basketball discussion with my son than listen to those guys. No offense to them, but I don’t know what I was thinking.
And just like @SaintTodd claimed, you can actually feel the intensity of the game more without the broadcasters. I wasn’t distracted with side stories, complaints about the refs or other non-essential auditory wastefulness. I was 100 percent into the game. As the Warriors went up by 20, my son and I still celebrated and discussed the plays. When the Warriors ended the half with a Klay three, a Curry long jumper, a Lee basket and a great Bogut tip-in to put the Warriors up 63-40, it was the most fun I’ve had watching a basketball game on TV maybe since I was a little kid.
With my son still by my side, I streamed The Beatles station on Slacker Radio at low volume. Not only was I still able to focus on the game, I also got in some much needed “hearts” and “rejections.” “Strawberry Fields?” Yes please. “Another Day?” Ban track.
The only experience I missed with the game on mute was the sound of the crowd in the background and the squeaking of sneakers. It always adds to the play on the court. But if you know enough about the game, you will be making your own crowd noise at home. Basketball and shoe squeaks go hand-in-hand, but I can always pretend it’s an outdoor blackcourt game.
Knowing the game is the key to watching the game on mute. I didn’t feel like I missed a thing by not hearing the announcers. In turn, I didn’t have to deal with a lot of the negativity that comes with listening to TV broadcasters. Mainly, homerism and the resulting annoyerism.
I thoroughly enjoyed this test and plan to go mute again on Wednesday versus the Kings. I highly recommend it for those who know enough about basketball not to have the play on court explained to them.