Here’s a group of people who are really overpaid

One of the things in life I don’t understand (there are several) is why sports play-by-play announcers are paid so much money when they have little influence over what sporting events people watch.

That thought occurred to me recently when I read that the two highest paid guys in field are Al Michaels of NBC and Joe Buck at Fox, each of whom reportedly make $6 million a year. Good for them.

But neither one of them influences what games I watch, and I’ve never heard anybody say they were going to watch a game because X was doing the play-by-play.

There are certain criteria that influence games I watch during a given week: Do they involve teams I follow regularly? Do I have any money bet on the game? Does the game figure to be competitive or entertaining?

If a game meets two or more of those criteria, I’ll watch even if Buck or Dick Stockton is calling the action. If I think the game is going to be dud, neither Michaels nor Brad Nessler can’t lure me into watching the game.

As any sports producer will tell you, the games that draw the most sustained ratings—that is, people who stay with them until the end—are close throughout with the winner decided at the end. They never mention the broadcasters.

Then there are the color commentators. With few exceptions like Tony Romo at CBS, they tend to tell you what’s obvious to anybody who knows the game or is paying attention to the broadcast. Then there are the people who think they’re getting paid by the word and butt into the point where they become annoying. Gary Danielson of CBS comes to mind.

The ones who are really a waste of time are the sideline reporters, who use their air time trying to figure out if some guy is injured when they aren’t spinning anecdotes that anybody in the booth could have told you. The only one worth the money is Lisa Salters of ESPN on the NBA broadcasts. When you listen to the pointed questions she asks the players, you figure it’s only a matter of time before somebody hits her.

The networks could save a lot of money by eliminating the sideline reporters and paying the guys in the booth what they’re really worth. Then maybe my cable rates will go down.

***

Last week was a disaster for my football selections, finishing the week at 1-5. That gets me to a season record of 25-22, a barely profitable winning percentage of 53%. To put it another way, if I was betting at the $100 level—risking $110 to win $100—I’d be up a whole $80 for the season. You could probably do better just flipping coins.

I’m modestly profitable on college games (15-11, 57%), but I’m 10-11 on NFL selections. But I’ve done well with my system over the last decade, I’m stubborn, and I have a lot of time to kill during these lock down days, so here’s this week’s choices. (Until I start doing better, I suggest you consider the following for amusement purposes only.)

College

–Wake Forest (+1) over Louisville

–Eastern Michigan (-6) over Northern Illinois

–Miami (Florida) (-3) over North Carolina

–Ball State (P) over Western Michigan

NFL

–Tampa Bay (-6.5) over Minnesota

–Pittsburgh (+1.5) over Buffalo

–Baltimore (-2) over Cleveland

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