Dear Haley Holt,
Hi, young lady. You don’t know me, we’ve never met so let me introduce myself. My name is John Dybvig. I’m an American. I’ve lived in New Zealand for twenty five plus years and I’m a sports nut with a reputation for being honest. I don’t pull punches and sometimes that means the picture ain’t pretty so I’m gonna have to get all naked on you sister and call it as I see it: You simply don’t have it…whatever ‘it’ is in the sports commenting business you don’t possess it! In fact you’re awful. Please let me explain…here’s my beef:
Once upon a time I thought Prime’s marque sports show “The Crowd Goes Wild’ was the absolute best sporting entertainment on television. The small kid on the block who kicked the bejesus out of anything the Death Star (TVNZ) or the Orphan child (TV3) put out. The show was slick and fastpaced shooting sporting clips at you ratta-tat-tat like machine gun fire backed up with intelligence, insight and humour. If you were a sports nut then this show was a must for you!
The two main hosts Andrew Mulligan and Mark Richardson do what no one else does in New Zealand sports television – namely they freely voice their opinions on everything and everybody in every segment of their show. Nothing is too minute for their rapier wit – it’s like watching two guys in a pub talking sport. Beautiful. But, you certainly wouldn’t agree with everything they say… sometimes they just spout crap, but that’s half the fun because it turns into interactive television with you shouting at them from your couch…bullshit!
And for me I just love it when they talk smack about American sports. Richardson knows zero about Uncle Sam on the sports field and Mulligan is barely a notch higher even though he thinks he’s the Alex Trebek (brilliant long time host of Jeopardy) of American sports. Check this out for a Mulligan Homer Simpson moment: One night after he did a piece on the Pittsburgh Steelers who had just won the Super Bowl – Mulligan smugly and knowingly informed us plebs watching at home that they were a struggling franchise and really hadn’t had that much success in the history of their club. I nearly choked on my cucumber sandwhich!
It’s just the opposite…the Steelers are in fact one of the most storied clubs in American professional football having won more Super Bowls (6) than any other club. Ahhhh Mugs you can’t win’em all big guy…d’oh! But I still love the fact that these guys are willing to let it all hang out – to argue their differences of opinion on television in front of the nation…it’s entertaining and adds another important element to a sports broadcast…the human element…their banter gives it a personal feel that leaves the boring PC cliched talking heads of the other stations in the dust.
Their field reporter James McOnie is pure gold. He’s a combination of ‘That Guy’ from Sports Cafe and Gary McCormick from Heartland. McOnie’s kiwi dead pan humour actually gets the athletes to reveal small truthful moments of their character talking honestly instead of running off the standard learned cliches. One of my favorite McOnie moments was when he asked Michael Phelps a question at the Bejing Olympics.
McOnie was there with a squillion other journalists and literally stole the show – James is the type of guy to stand out in a crowd seeing as his body actually represents a moving version of the ‘Great Wall of China’ so when he stood up to identify himself blacking out the entire room like a giant eclipse some foreign sloth in the back immediately yelled out for him to sit down and without missing a beat as he lowered his massive bulk back into his chair he informed Phelps that he was the same guy sitting which brought the house down including Phelps who was now actively engaged with McOnie. And James didn’t kowtow to the ‘great one’ he immediately went on the attack taking the mickey out of Phelps: “Michael, you’ve personally won more medals than New Zealand isn’t that kind of greedy?” Can you possibly imagine Peter Montgomery from TVNZ doing that….of course not and that witty irreverence is what made ‘The Crowd Ges Wild’ so compelling.
The ‘Crowd Goes Wild’ was an absolute cracker of a show – a little ray of sunshine in a dreary world…that is until you arrived Haley. Your voice has less life in it than the Dead Sea. There’s no energy, passion or committment…it’s just a monotone. Why the powers that be think that any old Tom, Dick or Harry or a leggy blonde who at one time dated All Black captain Richie MCaw can voiceover a sports highlight reel is beyond me. I just don’t get it.
Performing….yes that’s right Haley…a voiceover is a performance an art form and the very best elevate that hightlight reel into something extraordinary. You just leave it laying there on the floor of the studio withering…dying a slow cruel death. It’s criminal. A good voiceover artist adds to what we’re already seeing complimenting the pictures with their wit, knowledge and passion for their subject. Your uninspiring delivery sucks out any sign of life as you merely tell us what we’re already watching. Graeme Hill did a great highlight reel on Sports Cafe, but if you want to listen to the masters you can’t go past Chris Berman on ESPN or the late great George Michaels Sports Machine these guys were poetry in motion…you counted yourself lucky to catch their shows.
Haley you’re not even dumb funny in the sense that April Iremia used to be…one time talking about the FA Cup, April actually prounounced the word calling it the Fa Cup…that is fabulously hilarious…I was clutching my stomach cramping up I was laughing so hard.
Haley you seem to always be in nutural neither here nor there…just annoyingly there. In the end I have to face the fact that you’ve killed the pleasure of watching ‘The Crowd Goes Wild’ for me. I’ve tried…honestly I’ve hung in there but now I’m like the Jack Rabbit on the side of the road only I’m hunched on my couch pumped full of adrenalin holding the remote – like a drug addict I crave ‘action’ it’s the creative rush I’m after from the days ‘sports results’ like we like to say in America – ‘score me’ fill me in on what’s going down baby in the sports world…like a Black Hole it’s sucking me in I’ve got a big decision to make do I push the on button now..no wait..now…no…yes…no…yes now…thump!
I get flattened not by an eighteen wheeler but by your flat lifeless drone, it just kills me. I don’t have any idea why I’m so emotionally distraught but I am every time I hear you slowly butcher another potentially exciting highlight reel I just feel so discouraged. So I’ve gotta man up here Haley and face the cold harsh reality that as long as the powers that be see fit to employ someone who is clearly out of her depth I’m gonna have to go cold turkey and yank the remote right out of my hand. Pity.