While basketball broadcasters may not have as contentious a relationship with referees as coaches, players, and fans, part of calling the action can involve criticizing a call. And with broadcasters typically positioned at courtside, there is certainly more opportunity for exchanges with officials than in football or hockey, for example.
But as David Borges writes in a feature for CT Insider, UConn men’s basketball play-by-play announcer Mike Crispino might go a bit easier on referees than his colleagues. And that’s because Crispino works as a referee himself when he’s not at the mic, officiating high school basketball and baseball games in Connecticut
Crispino has been a referee for 12 years and says it completely changed how he viewed officiating while calling play-by-play for the New York Knicks and UConn Huskies. Prior to donning the stripes, he would often question calls during a broadcast.
“I’ve changed completely since I started doing this,” Crispino told Borges. “Because I realize how hard it is. It’s not easy. You’re on-call all the time. You’ve got to have two hours of being sharp. You can’t get lazy, you can’t get distracted, you can’t listen to too many people barking about stuff. You have to be on it. Otherwise, you’re not doing the service that you’re getting paid to do.”
Despite having the perspective of a working referee, Crispino — who’s been broadcasting UConn men’s basketball for the past four years — still gets caught up in the moment and questions certain calls, sometimes with the officials standing right in front of him.
Unlike broadcasting, where young announcers are always trying to break into the industry, Crispino is concerned about the future of officiating. He says fewer people work as referees because of stories about angry parents and coaches.
Of course, Crispino has also experienced such exchanges from the other side with high school coaches disputing his calls as a referee. But he’s only issued one ejection during his officiating career, along with just a few technical fouls. Seeing referees work at the college and NBA levels as a broadcaster has helped him understand how to deal with such situations. That perspective has clearly been beneficial in both jobs.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at email@example.com.
Mike Conti: ‘Appaling’ That ‘Some Creep’ Posted Bob Rathbun Video Online
“He is a true gentleman. He is a friend to all of us. It was hard for me to do the broadcast last night having watched that.”
Bob Rathbun, the television voice of the Atlanta Hawks, suffered a scary medical emergency on Monday night and it was captured on live television. The video then spread across the internet thanks to Twitter.
Mike Conti, the program director at 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, is part of the station’s coverage of the Hawks. He admitted that when he saw the video, he had trouble getting in the right headspace to do the game.
“Bob’s a friend to all of us,” he said Tuesday morning as he talked to John & Hugh, the station’s morning show. “He is a true gentleman. He is a friend to all of us. It was hard for me to do the broadcast last night having watched that.”
Conti noted that he was not watching TV when the incident happened. He saw the video on social media and is not happy about that.
“Some creep decided to post the video online, which I thought was appalling, but I could not avoid the video. It came up on my Twitter.”
The video is indeed disturbing. Awful Announcing posted the video on Twitter Monday night, but deleted it after backlash from members of the Atlanta media.
Bally Sports Southeast issued a statement after the game saying that Bob Rathbun was treated for dehydration. Conti reported that he had spoken to Rathbun, who is expected to fully recover.
“He’s good. He’s okay,” Conti said. “I don’t want to say too much just to respect Bob’s privacy, but I think Bob would be okay with me saying Bob is okay.”
WEEI Producer Begins Campaign To Get Greg Hill into Radio Hall of Fame
“He has been around for a long time in the Boston radio scene and raised a lot of money for charity and done a lot of good things and a lot of good radio.”
Greg Hill already has a Marconi, but that honor isn’t enough according to one of his producers.
Jackson, who hosts The Greg Hill Show’s after-show podcast, revealed on Monday that he is ready to make the case to the Radio Hall of Fame for the WEEI morning man to be included in next year’s induction ceremony.
He said that Hill treats the Marconi Award he won for Major Market Personality of the Year like it belongs to everyone. Hill credits not just the current cast he works with on WEEI, but partners from his days at active rocker WAAF as well, with helping him take home that award. Jackson wants to see Hill get an honor that is just for him.
“The Radio Hall of Fame would be very much Greg only, and I think he needs that solo recognition. Not for his ego, but for posterity and for his legend because he is legendary,” Jackson said. “He has been around for a long time in the Boston radio scene and raised a lot of money for charity and done a lot of good things and a lot of good radio.”
This year, the Radio Hall of Fame included a trio of WFAN legends in its induction class with found Jeff Smulyan, Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo and Suzyn Waldman all being honored.
Jackson says he is taking it upon himself to make the case for Greg Hill getting in, but he encouraged listeners to find out what they can do and then do it. While he made it clear that Hill deserves the honor, Jackson acknowledged that the recognition would make him feel pretty good too.
“That would be cool because then I would be working for a Radio Hall-of-Famer and in the circle of trust of a Radio Hall-of-Famer perhaps.”
Jason Barrett Podcast: Jeff Smulyan, Never Ride a Roller Coaster Upside Down
There would be no sports radio if not for Jeff Smulyan. He takes JB through the triumphs and disappointments of his career and explains why he is sharing so many stories in a new book, Never Ride a Roller Coaster Upside Down. To pick up your copy, click here.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.