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Thread: Dick Button

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJStuCrew
    Well, I could've said "the casual viewers that I've spoken to," but I didn't want to overstate the obvious. And you've missed my point.

    I also appreciate candor, but you can convey both good and bad without sounding harsh or judgmental. The only reason Button comes off that way is because he chooses to do so. (It obviously isn't due to a lack of education or command of language!) His choice of words, therefore, seems quite measured and deliberate, revealing a certain meanness of spirit that I dislike. You're free to disagree. Perhaps he doesn't realize it, but I find it hard to believe.

    I'm with you as far as Carruthers is concerned. I guess in the case of both of them, it exemplifies my conviction that just because you're accomplished at whatever you're watching, that doesn't make you qualified to jump into the broadcast booth and play "announcer guy" (or gal). Technical advisor? Yes. Announcer...?
    At least we agree on Carruthers!!

    I will say that "his choice of words" lately have been different from before, especially the last 4 years. And I will agree that they could sound mean-spirited. The thing is that he loses words. He has to be deliberate about what he says because he will misuse words. This is common with brain injuries. Have you ever noticed that he miscalls a jump or a certain move? He has talked about not being able to "quickly" grab the name of the move and/or jump. I find myself trying to help him even if he can't hear me. I will disagree with you that Button chooses to come off that way. But that's cool. I happen to know more than I ever wanted to know about brain injuries so I understand where Button is coming from.

  2. #32
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    Well, I'll certainly concede that you might have a point there. I'm unfamiliar with the specifics of his injuries, or how well he's recovered from them. Still, if it has such an effect on his abilities to do the job he's being asked to do, then it might be time to hang up his mic, or at least take a break until fully recovered. (And I'd sure feel differently about him if I thought it was an injury and not a sense of meanness that was behind his words. Forgive me if I'm skeptical.)

  3. #33
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    I'm not any kind of expert, but to me it is very obvious that Button is indeed groping to bring out words that he knows very well, but just can't get them up to the front of his mind. He was off the air for a year, recuperating from his injury. Even with this now minor but still evident handicap, he is still the best

    Sometimes I think what comes out as meaness is just a reflection of how much he cares about the sport and about the athletes. Sometimes he is just fit to be tied when Sasha skates a near-perfect program, then makes a bad mistake right at the end. If Dick starts sputtering it's because he so wanted her to skate her best.

    Then there are his pet peeves -- ladies who don't point their toes in their layback, men who don't get all the way down in their sit spin. Well, that's an insult to the sport, LOL.

    Mathman
    Last edited by Mathman; 09-28-2004 at 07:15 PM.

  4. #34
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    What I dislike about Button and just about every commentator I've heard on US TV with the possible exception of Susie Wynn (some of the time) and occasionally Carruthers is that they don't teach the audience very much about skating, and what they do teach is inconsistent and/or out of context.

    Yes, just about any new audience member listening to Button for 20 minutes knows when a layback has an egregious position or a man's back is egregious in a sit spin, and they think they know that the most difficult spin is a forward scratch spin and that the forward edge going into the axel jump is THE MOST DANGEROUS THING IN SKATING. But do they get a clue about edges or any characteristic other than amplitude in a spiral? Or that some characteristics do not translate to TV, like speed, smooth edging, ice coverage, changes of direction, etc.? Would they know to apply the same criticism of Kwan's layback that the commentators make of Sebestyen's, to notice the travel on Weir's or Lambiel's headless scratch spin, or to apply the same praise to Lindemann's landing edges as they do to Joubert's? Yes, Lambiel's spins are often original and well-done, but how does one compare them to Klimkin's, whose spiral position is exemplary and who does spins on both sides and approaching from both directions?

    Wynn, at least, does speak to what the judges might appreciate, such as Navka/Kostomarov's leg line. She might or might not agree that they are better than other teams with higher difficulty, but she at least lets the audience know what the judges are looking for, and not to exaggerate her personal preferences.

    Considering how much babbling goes on between Fleming, Gannon, and Button, they could take the same about of words and apply them to judging the whole performance, like the Eurosport commentators do: "high jump, telegraphed, with little flow," "underrotated," deep edges, "well-centered", "great camel position," "spin loses speed and focus," etc. They apply this consistently to each skater. It was through their broadcasts that I realized the abundance of talent at the "bottom" of figure skating ranks.

    The reason I think this is important is because the US audience is the biggest audience with the most money to spend, and this kind of commentary means that few ever learn to appreciate any skater who isn't from the US, portrayed as "cute" and "bubbly", is featured in People magazine, and/or has a twist of a human interest story. While I don't expect Ilia Klimkin, B&S, Sebestyen, or Arakawa, for example, to be headliners in US shows (except for hard-core fans), just as I would expect the average opera goer to buy tickets to hear Placido Domingo, but not Cynthia Lawrence, it would be much better for the health of skating if people got to the arena and could "discover" skaters because they'd been taught to recognize quality. Then maybe there'd be a demand for more than four or five programs on a broadcast, instead of repeats of Kwan on the Beach and Sasha Goes Shopping.

    I don't think our broadcasters are doing anything to further this education.

  5. #35
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    Nicely put hockeyfan, but I don't think any one commentator can go through 25 odd skaters for the comparison with the one on the ice at the moment.

    Joe

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz
    Nicely put hockeyfan, but I don't think any one commentator can go through 25 odd skaters for the comparison with the one on the ice at the moment.

    Joe
    The Eurosport guys do -- there are two of them, and they comment on every skater. What's great about them is that they give credit where it is due and criticize pretty even-handedly: if a 24th ranked skater has a great Lutz or fabulous spins as good as anyone else's, they'll say it. If a top skater travels all over the place and makes a mess of it, they'll say it. If someone's off for the day or skating much faster than they did at Euros, they'll say it.

    It's not so much that I think Button, et. al. should compare every skater with every other skater. It's that if they say that Lambiel's spin travels, they should say that Weir's spin travels. If they go on and on about Joubert's great landing edges, they should point out Lindemann's, so that viewers look for it and maybe have an inkling why Lindemann won a bronze medal.

    Viewers certainly would have had a clue listening to Martini and Underhill's commentary on CBC. Whether or not a viewer agreed that Lindemann's strengths were better than Lambiel's, they would have known that Lindemann had some, and that he wasn't just a lucky homeboy. My beef with Martini and Underhill is that they try too much for a narrative and don't critique the elements consistently, plus they have to deal with the interruptions of their equivalent of Gannon as a color guy, even if he's not as faux clueless as Gannon. For example, if they're going to complain that L&A were underscored by pointing out how difficult their lifts were, for example, they needed to point out difficulty of lifts throughout the competition.

  7. #37
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    Chris and Simon of British Eurosport absolutely kick *ss at commentating on skating. Totally agree with you about pointing out the strengths of the skater in 24th as well as the skater in 1st. The only national bias they display is just usually to gush a bit more over their own skaters, and they certainly don't put down skaters from other countries. Seriously, Dick and Peggy and Terry and Peter could learn a few lessons in fairness and diplomacy from Chris and Simon. Heck, ESPN should just flat out hire Chris and Simon, or just broadcast the Eurosport audio track. :D

    Laura

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by PrincessLeppard
    The only national bias they display is just usually to gush a bit more over their own skaters, and they certainly don't put down skaters from other countries. Seriously, Dick and Peggy and Terry and Peter could learn a few lessons in fairness and diplomacy from Chris and Simon. Heck, ESPN should just flat out hire Chris and Simon, or just broadcast the Eurosport audio track. :D

    Laura
    Considering that at this point, that takes up about an extra 30 seconds or so of the broadcast (Although it seems like there's a resurgence among the younger ice dancers.)

    I think ESPN should just buy the whole Eurosport broadcast and forget about sending Button and Fleming and Gannon and Carruthers anywhere. I'd even trade Wynne for Chris and Simon.

  9. #39
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    hockeyfan, Dick and Peggy have often criticized Michelle's layback.

  10. #40
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    Oh, the inconsistency of it all!

    Quote Originally Posted by hockeyfan228
    It's not so much that I think Button, et. al. should compare every skater with every other skater. It's that if they say that Lambiel's spin travels, they should say that Weir's spin travels. If they go on and on about Joubert's great landing edges, they should point out Lindemann's, so that viewers look for it and maybe have an inkling why Lindemann won a bronze medal.

    Gannon as a color guy, even if he's not as faux clueless as Gannon. For example, if they're going to complain that L&A were underscored by pointing out how difficult their lifts were, for example, they needed to point out difficulty of lifts throughout the competition.
    These errors you cited should definitely be pointed out, especially for those casual viewers. For the hard core fans, they are obvious unless it requires a slomo repeat. I am all for slomo repeats rather than the words of any commentator be s/he No.American or European. I can understand a fan of a skater being annoyed at a commenator whose personal bias slips into the delivery. I watched Eurosport in Dortmund and they were gushing over anything German whether they won or lost. It didn't bother me. I know better

    Travelling spins are something every skater does. It's a matter of how much. Consistency is never 100 per cent. . I will be looking for Weir to travel on his spins consistently to see if you are correct. As you are aware, I am against brandishing skaters because of a perceived consistency, e.g., underrotated jumps. :\

    My own personal taste in Pairs skating lifts is not the difficulty but the beauty of them. I do not like many pairs lifts. But hey, that's just me. I hate Pairs spins, by the way, except the ones that do not look like a wrestling match.

    Joe

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJStuCrew
    Well, I'll certainly concede that you might have a point there. I'm unfamiliar with the specifics of his injuries, or how well he's recovered from them. Still, if it has such an effect on his abilities to do the job he's being asked to do, then it might be time to hang up his mic, or at least take a break until fully recovered. (And I'd sure feel differently about him if I thought it was an injury and not a sense of meanness that was behind his words. Forgive me if I'm skeptical.)
    Hey, it's okay to be skeptical. (BTW, I sent you a PM). One thing is for certain-no one "fully recovers" from a brain injury. When you injure the brain, your entire life changes. It can cause personality changes, memory loss, disinhibition, impulse control issues, and so on and so forth.

    I've listened to Chris and Simon and I liked them. But I prefer Dick Button. I can say that I can deal without Peggy on some occasions. And Susie Wynne has THE most annoying voice second only to Roslynn. I guess it's just a matter of taste.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz
    Travelling spins are something every skater does. It's a matter of how much. Consistency is never 100 per cent. . I will be looking for Weir to travel on his spins consistently to see if you are correct. As you are aware, I am against brandishing skaters because of a perceived consistency, e.g., underrotated jumps. :\
    I wasn't trying to imply that Weir travelled on most or all of his spins. I was speaking specifically of Dortmund, where his headless scratch spin travelled and so did Lambiel's. I believe the commentators should point out what is happening in that performance for that specific element, because, in theory at least, that particular execution of the element is what is being judged. If they feel that a skater is overcredited for something that is consistently faulty -- i.e. X always gets full credit for difficult jumps when the landings are dodgy over half the time, that's a summary comment.

  13. #43
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    Well, your gripes with Roz and Susie have to do with high, often female voices, a well known phenomenon among broadcasters. Even other women tend to prefer lower registers. Women can be taught how to pace themselves, modulate their voices and deliver good commentary -- they don't have to be born with husky, Jill Hennesy voices -- but Roz and Peggy are NOT professional broadcasters. They're skaters who have been tossed into the booth and asked to do the job of more qualified professionals. So we get what we're given.

    As I mentioned in my reply to your PM, it used to be that they'd bring in an athlete to provide "color commentary." In short, they'd fill-in the gaps with their expertise, while the pro did the play-by-play (and most of the talking). For some unexplained reason, this formula has been discarded where figure skating is concerned. (And in some other professional sports as well.) I have no doubt that Dick Button has a wealth of information and fascinating insights, but he's NOT a trained announcer. I'd be surprised if he records himself and listens to his delivery. Pros do this constantly. Just because he's been doing it for a long time doesn't make him a broadcaster. This also brings me to another point; it's harder to train someone to do things correctly once they've established bad habits doing it incorrectly.

    To his credit, Button has a unique, well modulated voice that budding announcers would envy. He also seems to have a formidable vocabulary. But these are just two elements among many that a good announcer needs. (I could say the same of Howard Stern.) Just because somebody has steady hands and a stethoscope doesn't mean they're qualified to do surgery. The bottom line is that I don't think Button has the chops. He can be interesting at times, as well as hysterical and infuriating, but IMHO, he's a hack.

  14. #44
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    Hey, thanks for your response. It was really interesting. I never knew all that.

    Well, I can't abide listening to women with high pitched voices or those "I sound like I'm a little girl" voice either. Ugh! Actually I don't have a problem with Peggy's voice at all. I'm just not into overdosing on syrup.

    I think we can agree that we disagree on Dick Button.

  15. #45
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    chops

    Yes, DB has certainly lost a great part of his edge... mightbe not all his "chops" but a lot of them.

    Was the broadcast where he wore his old college sweater (5 sizes too small) and sang the theme from "Gigi" before or after the brain injury? That was pretty much the stupidest thing I can ever remembering him do.

    He certainly has taught viewers a lot over the years... but it may be time for someone else. Unfortunately, there is no obvious heir apparent. Terry Gannon already seems to know as much as Peggy or Peter. Surely there must be a retiring skater who has the expertise and is also capable of speaking clearly and formultating sentences that make sense? One who does squeak into the mike when they get excited?

    I adored Scott's enthusiam few years ago but he had me wanting to throw egg at the TV the last few times. He should definitely stick to other pursuits.

    Of the bunch available in the USA broadcasts, I like Suzy best, Peter is a distant second. Once in a great while, we'll Tracey in the USA and she's quite good.

    A resounding YES to the poster who wants the commentator to help the viewer understand what they are looking at.

    Linny

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