SportsProf

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Oscar the Grouch is Out

CBS has parted ways with Billy Packer, its color commentator on NCAA men's basketball tournament broadcasts for 34 years.

While you hate to see anyone lose a job, Packer's separation from CBS was long past due. He became too much of a lecturer and a scold. Quite honestly, as much as I appreciated his in-depth hoops knowledge, I got tired of listening to him on the broadcasts and occasionally turned the sound down (I also think that Jim Nantz is way too saccharine, but apparently America disagrees with me there).

This is not to say that all American sports fans are age-ists. After all, we still like Dick Enberg, and I could have listened to Jim McKay and Jack Whitaker endlessly. Why? Because not only were they good teachers, they were warm and engaging. Packer, to his credit, was true to himself and really didn't care how he came off. He thought, my guess is, that his knowledge would always carry him through.

Viewed from a different angle, Packer had a great run. Who stays in the same job for 34 years anymore? But perhaps that longevity was part of the problem. Packer wasn't refreshing anymore, and he did get stale in his job. His replacement, Clark Kellogg, not only will offer great knowledge and, yes, candor, but also a less prohibiting approach overall, and one that's more welcome in people's homes.

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