Those of us who watched the Kansas City Chiefs play the Los Angeles Chargers this afternoon got another really fun moment from announcer Kevin Harlan. The play by play man, who is an elite broadcaster of both football and basketball, mixed live calls from a Patriots-Dolphins game he was watching on a side television into the main play-by-play broadcast in order to give viewers insight into both games at once, sort of like NFL Red Zone without switching feeds.
For those of you who aren’t up on the NFL right now or would just appreciate a refresher, let me explain why this is so cool. The Chiefs and Patriots went into today’s final day of the regular season separated by one game in the standings. Both teams are headed for the playoffs, but whoever gets the number 2 seed earns a first round bye and whoever gets the 3 seed has to play in the first round. If both teams won or both teams lost, New England would get the bye. If Kansas City won and New England lost, the Chiefs would get the bye.
As such, Harlan was well aware the average person watching the Chiefs game was particularly invested in what was going on in the New England game; so, he figured out a way to keep people updated on both. You can watch an excerpt of him work his magic below…
The best sports announcers are the ones who are able to, of course, call the game in front of them but also always keep the larger significance in mind. That might sound easy, but it’s actually trickier than you’d think. Home runs to win a game should sound more impactful and exciting than ones in the third inning. People watching a blowout are more tolerant of and interested in off-topic conversations (The Bill Walton trademark special) and stories about the past. Even if the actual ending to the game is in doubt, the gambling implications might not be. And so on.
Kevin Harlan made headlines earlier this year for his enthusiastic play-by-play call of a black cat running around the field and evading the security staff. Now he’s blowing up Twitter for this magic, which he later admitted probably “(broke) every FCC regulation in the book”. That's not easy to do. Most of the time broadcasters make headlines it's for saying something inappropriate or accidentally drawing a penis. Long story short, he’s really emerged as one of the best sports broadcasters we have, and while his peers honored him as the best in the business in 2017, his level of fame hasn’t quite caught up yet. Here’s to hoping that continues to change over the next several years.