North Carolina Students Devise Application To De-Vitale-ize Its National BroadcastsPosted by KCarpenter on February 2nd, 2013
It’s a simple problem for paranoid sports fans everywhere: It’s hard to listen to commentators who clearly have it out for your team. In college basketball, among the most tribal of sports, few broadcast commentators are exempt from charges of bias or partisanship. Ignoring the issue of whether or not this is true, it is perceived to be true and therefore it is a problem for many fans. The solution to the problem of objectionable commentators has a fairly simple well-known fix: Mute the TV and put on the radio (or Internet-streaming equivalent), where you can listen to partisans who like your team as much as you do. Of course, this simple solution has it’s own simple problem: syncing the audio and video.
Now that you’ve decoupled the two media sources, the sound doesn’t match up with the audio and getting the two to synchronize has been something of a struggle. So, for a student project, some North Carolina students wrote an application with the express purpose of making this problem simple to resolve. Now, listening to objectionable commentators is even less of an obstacle to partisan sports fans. This is a good thing for the hyper-sensitive who can’t bear to hear anyone say something critical about their team.
Let’s be clear — turning off at least ostensibly neutral broadcast teams to listen to often openly partisan homers isn’t about countering bias, it’s about getting the bias in the direction you prefer. Now, if that’s what you want, that’s fine, but let’s consider an analogy. In the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, you have two people: Bob and Sam. Bob refuses to get his news from any source other than Fox News and conservative talk radio. Sam only gets his political news from Daily Kos and other left-leaning websites. Do either Bob or Sam have a clear view about what is actually going on in the election? Probably not. When your primary source of analysis doubles as cheerleader for your chosen side, you have a problem understanding what’s actually going on.
Only listening to your homer broadcasters and spending unhealthy amounts of time interacting with people who do the same (like on say, team-specific message boards) is likely to turn you into the kind of unreasonable and paranoid person that no one outside of your particular fandom has any interest in talking to. When you retreat into a silo of safe opinions where you don’t hear more pointed criticisms and just instead hear your own views repeated in your echo chamber of choice, it doesn’t make you any smarter as a fan. Now, of course, there’s no law that says you have to work on being a smarter fan. If it’s more fun to argue that your team never commits any fouls and the other teams get away with everything constantly and everyone is out to get you — that’s fine. On the other hand, exposing yourself to critical, neutral, and occasionally hostile opinions is probably a healthy way to learn more about basketball.
Of course, all this is assuming you don’t want to listen to a particular announcer because of a bias against your team. If, for example, you wanted to replace Dick Vitale‘s color commentary with someone who provided commentary and analysis outside of yelling a few worn-out catchphrases over and over again, I don’t think anyone would find any objection with that.