Column: "The Sports Trail": Keith Jackson broadcasting, young alumni yelling, A-OK

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

by David McNeal

Thank goodness one of the television networks was smart enough to get Keith Jackson to broadcast the national championship game between Miami and Nebraska.

I'm so sick of groups of three or four in the broadcast booth rattling on incessantly, throwing out statistics and trying to one-up each other, that when I watch a game, I turn the sound off.

It really is that bad!

No wonder everyone has begun to call most television announcers "the talking heads." That's all you see of them during pregame and halftime, and they never shut up.

Jackson, on the other hand, isn't afraid of a little silence, or to let the teams carry the game instead of endless talking. There were only two men broadcasting that game, and it was a relief. Both were knowledgeable, but didn't try to describe every play in detail.

It wasn't a great game to broadcast, as Miami ran away with it the first half. I can hear our Nebraska fans at Holiday Island yelling right now and looking up my phone number, but hey, I didn't play. I just watched ---- and enjoyed the game, as a matter of fact.

Nebraska played better the second half, but when a Wishbone team is down 34-0 at halftime, it's hard to catch up quickly ---- and they didn't.

Still, it was a great game, with two excellent, well-coached teams going at it, Jackson broadcasting, and a stadium of loyal fans cheering both teams on.

In fact, Jackson mentioned several times that the stadium was a sea of red, worn, I suppose, by Nebraska Cornhusker fans.

Which brings me to my second topic this week ---- young fans, newly alumni. College kids from Eureka Springs, Berryville, and Green Forest showed they haven't forgotten their high school loyalties and playing years during this past holiday period when they showed up in record numbers at basketball tournaments.

I went to the Green Forest Holiday Tournament one night and ran into Rose Booth, the former Lady Tiger standout,who was cheering the teams on. There were others in the big crowd that night.

And at the NAC Senior Boys' Tournament last week, the Eureka Springs faithful packed it in for the championship game. Former players included Wes Cieciwa, who came in with the Thurman boys, Jaclyn Cross, who drove in from St. Louis, Wes Beaver, Beau Bell and Justin Bohannon, to name just a few I glimpsed while taking pictures.

And during the Berryville/Eureka Springs shootout in Highlander gym, former Lady Bobcat All Stater Tiana Wolfenden was there to cheer for the Bobcats, as were others who were in for Christmas break.

It was great to see all the former athletes, rooting in the stands for their old teams. That's how traditions are passed on.

I just wish the television networks would pass on Keith Jackson's tradition of not talking a game to death. If they did, college football ratings at my house would take a big jump.

Until then, it's the mute button for me.

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