Sound off on silence

DAVE 'CRASH' CAMERON, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 11:35 AM ET

It's kind of like sitting through karaoke without the backing track.

Offence intended to karaoke "singers," none to stadium announcers, but they are meant to be heard in the stadium.

I'm referring to CBC-TV's forced experiment with "live" football.

It's been forced upon the mighty Mothercorp by a technician lockout, but it has been done before. Many years back, an American network tried a broadcast without on-air staff. Didn't work then.

It introduces some interesting perspectives, but it doesn't work now, either.

Makes as much logistical sense as wrestling magnate Vince McMahon putting together an entire football league just to bring to the world the overhead camera shot. And one really cool nickname.

The CBC has implemented innovative ideas in its existence, but it doesn't need to wear "He Hate Me" on its back.

Especially in Alberta.

Its recent CFL broadcasts have invoked extreme reactions - and questions about the role of commentary.

Is it time for a less-is-more approach, such as you hear on British soccer broadcasts?

I'd welcome less of the fill-every-second approach. I'd certainly welcome hearing much less of John Madden.

So how does a guy who's made his living as a broadcaster feel? Colour commentary has been a growth industry for former players and Glen Suitor has grown into one of the best.

"I'm not offended," said Suitor, in town yesterday for TSN's coverage of the Esks-Stamps rematch.

"I'm not offended at all. It's never been about commentators. It's always been about the game.

"The game sells. (Football), it's got everything that fans love about sports. And that's what sells.

"We're just there to help it along.

"I make the analogy that if you're reading a book to your kids, or out loud to somebody, and all you do is read the words, then, sooner or later, that person is going to get bored with the book. But if you put passion into it and try and make the characters come off the page and come alive ... it can be that much more entertaining.

"I think that's basically our job. A good show altogether can only enhance the experience, enhance the game.

"I also have a responsibility to explain why things happen. Sometimes it can look like the middle of a freeway in rush hour," Glen said while stuck in Vancouver bridge traffic on his way to the airport Thursday.

"There's a lot of real knowledgeable football fans, ex-coaches, ex-high school players, and things, that understand the game completely and don't need me to explain it to them.

"But for the average fan - which is probably 90% of our audience - it's a complicated game. They love the hits, they love the action, but they're not sure why a guy is so wide open, or why a quarterback got hit in the back, so it's part of my responsibility to explain that."

The strong ratings CBC has registered may reflect something. But TSN scored great ratings by taking over the Eastern half of the Labour Day Classic, so it most likely reflects the resurgent popularity of the CFL.

"In the short term I think people have been curious to see what it will look like," said Suitor.

"I think over the long term, without that, the league would be affected.

"The bottom line here is that viewers are loving the Canadian Football League. They're watching it in record numbers and the league is gaining momentum.

"I'm not worried."


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