It seems like the topic du jour is the upcoming Beijing Olympics — should we stay or should we go now.
I’m not going to talk about the Genocide Olympics that lie controversially on the horizon. Beijing is such a loaded and overworked talking point by now that I doubt I could lend anything refreshing to the conversation.
The long and the short of it looks like this: China does lots of not-so-good things (supporting the Sudanese government, oppressing the people of Tibet) and they probably should not have gotten the games in the first place.
At this point, if they shut off their factories long enough in advance we might just get to see the games through the literal and figurative haze. That would be a huge victory.
Instead of going on about China’s Olympics, I propose a much more useful, possible and positive boycott, one that is far closer to home, too:
Billy Packer, CBS’s worst, busiest and highest profile college basketball commentator.
His reign over the airwaves of America’s most incredible sporting event needs to end, if not for our collective sake, but at least for the sake of the game.
In spite of his experience — this is his 27th year as the lead analyst for CBS — he brings nothing new to the game. He lends zero entertainment, humor or an overly sharp wit and relevant analysis to what we hear coming out of the TV set.
When Packer does lend something useful to the game-watching experience it’s always about 10 seconds too slow, at least for me. His on-air presence is simply maddening.
This isn’t loathing of the Tim McCarver caliber — McCarver could dress up as Captain Obvious for Halloween and the change would be discernable only maybe to himself. I can’t stand McCarver but on some level I feel sympathy for the guy, sounding so unintelligent on millions of TVs, without a hint of shame.
No, Packer’s case is different. To think he’s been calling Final Fours for as long as Dick Vitale has not been calling them literally pains me.
I’d consider Vitale and Packer the poles of the profession, in that regard and several more. Dicky V is college hoops on TV. Where he is smooth, smart and insightful (if slightly over-exuberant), Packer sounds blustery, aloof and over-confident (without a hint of excitement).
If anything, with Vitale it’s instantly recognizable how much he loves his job. With Packer, you just can’t tell.
If not for the possibility of an incredible championship game this week, I’d advocate boycotting the broadcast entirely. As I sit here the day before what could be a Kansas-Memphis Instant Classic I realize it is impossible to not watch the game, regardless of Packer’s despotic presence during the broadcast.
A fair but dissenting compromise is to simply mute the game — listen to it on the radio or something, anything else — and write your local congressman.