Saturday, February 27, 2010

Figure Skating Sans Commentary: The "Not Scott" Mute Button ...

Why do I resent having to listen to Scott Hamilton's excessive know-it-all chatter while skaters compete? Here's why:

1. He conveys the narcissistic attitude that not until HE tells us what a skater has just done, can we validly enjoy it. Not until HE comments, has anything in fact of any import taken place. We are treated by this "commentator" like helplessly clueless spectators who lack the intelligence to enjoy a skater's performance without an expert giving us official permission. He actually may believe that we tune in more to hear him than to watch them. Not I, Mr. Hamilton.

2. In the earlier years when I first tried tolerating Hamilton, he came off as a squeaky voiced insider flaking for his friends, particularly for American skaters. He sounded so provincial. Up in Victoria during the women's short program, his irritating commentary was nearly non-stop at times.

3. Maybe he, or let's say NBC directing him, decided that it was important for him to verbally exploit every jump and spin of a skater's routine in order to foster an athletic image of figure skating. If that is so, then why not axe the music and have each skater demonstrate the required items, each item numbered and announced and scored, no footwork in between, no theatrics. As clinically executed and judged as indoor gymnastics?

The world of ice, I must inform you at this point, is a billion dollar industry, forever in fear of any of its competitive events being sidelined or eliminated, or treated like curling. In fact, I've heard they may have to 86 their humdrum compulsory dances, because those redundant set patterns bear too little visible difference from the original set patterns. You may recall that the school figures were thrown out some years back.

The world of ice has a great stake in the Olympics. Coaches make big bucks. Ice champions earn millions from endorsements. Producers tour the champs in special shows. Compared to this cunningly self-perpetrating industry (a veritable As The World Turns on blades), competitive roller skating (what's left of it) is but a puppet show on wheels.

You have, up there, my three rational reasons for avoiding commentator Hamilton. Which is why I have skipped many Olympics in recent years. Actually, Hamilton has given me a good reason to put off being dragged through three hours of commercials in order to watch 12 or 13 minutes of variable "championship" skating.

The Hamilton victory laps have also heightened my appreciation for Dick Button. Here is why: Seems, as I fondly recall before the Scot onslaught, classy Dick staying mostly silent during a skater's program. Once it was completed, and I waited for this, Dick would then offer a little summation. Some people have claimed he could be nasty. I don't much recall nasty; to overly sensitive ears, however, any non-affirmative, non gushing "YOU are the greatest!" testimonial is tantamount to heresy.

Peggy Flemming was a pleasant presence, although I don't remember her uttering many insightful things. I found Sandra Bezic, new to my ears, a pastel pleasure compared to hack Hamilton, who might, by the way, make a lively radio announcer for football or cock fighting. But others posting their rants on my blog detest Betiz. Makes me wonder if they are Fleming fans.

How to survive ice skating without Scott Hamilton? In fact, I may have already tried this before. From now on, I will simply mute my TV and play favorite CDs or tapes. Even old phonograph records. Heck, they should come out with a new television set containing a built in "NOT SCOT" mute button. The thing would somehow play the music but delete the voice.

And if Mr. Hamilton is ever muted by NBC, or should another network land future Olympics and decide not to use his services, he might find viable employment in a new mice on ice show as its star Mouseketeer.

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