Sitting in the 18th Tower at Augusta National, CBS Sports commentator Jim Nantz (biography) had no moral high ground from which he could criticize Tiger Woods for his off course behavior. But he did have the catbird's seat to "hear" whatever came from Tiger's mouth during play. That is he could hear whenever producer Lance Barrow (biography) decided to show Tiger live with a microphone trained on him and had it piped into his IFB and/or headset. So those times that Tiger did let his temper get the best of him irked Jim Nantz, as reported on Yahoo Sports' Devil Ball Golf blog. But Nantz's criticisms of Tiger's on-air vocabulary are, in the bigger picture, hypocritical when you look at any television network's body of work.
Oh Golly Gee Me: Tiger Woods reacts to a bunker shot on the second hole during the final round of the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11 2010 in Augusta Georgia. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
According to Devil Ball Golf, Nantz had an on-air conversation with WFAN's Mike Francesa, during which he shared the following observations:
"If I said what he said on the air, I would be fired. I read in the USA Today and it was called “mild language.” Someone on my broadcast (emphasis added) dismissed it as him having a camera in his face. Well, guess what? Phil Mickelson had a camera in his face all week and did you even hear him come close to approaching that? He didn’t hit every shot the way he wanted. Have you ever heard Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus use that kind of language? What are the parameters between what’s right or wrong?"
"How about the father and son who are standing right there by the tee? How about the hundreds of people who are around that tee who hear that? How about the hundreds of letters I’ve gotten through the years from people who have been outraged at the language they’ve heard there and have written me and said, ‘Why don’t you guys ever say something about that?’ "
Where to start on his thoughts? Let's start with the fact that the microphone(s) picked up anything at all. Obviously live audio gives you a feeling of presence as the ball is whacked. But it also introduces risk, especially with a player with Tiger Wood's legendary temper. All CBS Sports had to do was have a seven-second "Tiger" delay to bleep out any offensive language or displays of bad behavior. After all, Steven A. Smith made a comment on CNN's Larry King Live last week that it would be impossible for Tiger to go cold turkey with women. The same could be said for his temper, especially in his first tournament back.
Moving on, here are some thought's on Nantz's comments.
When did it become "his broadcast?" The last time I looked, it was CBS Sports presenting the Masters, not Jim Nantz. And it was a team effort, and the team needs to share in taking responsibility for the profanity making air. Notwithstanding, if an announcer like Nantz did have an on-air meltdown, yes they would at the very least be suspended. But watching the red light on the camera is a far cry from a raw, emotional response.
And This is Where I Won't Cuss When I Three Putt on Sunday: Tiger Woods evaluates his shot while CBS Sports announcer Mike Hulbert looks on during a practice round prior to the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5 2010 in Augusta Georgia. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
No on-air personality at the big three networks has any moral high-ground to criticize what makes air during a live broadcast, citing all of the letters received and worrying about fathers and sons standing near the tees. If this were a legitimate concern, Nantz should object to many of the on-air promotions he is given to read for CBS' "family friendly" shows, or take offense at all of the sexual dysfunction ads that air during a typical NFL broadcast. To this viewer, these are much more offensive than something said in the heat of competition (See Commentary: TV Ratings Should Be Based on Content of Entire Time Block).