Saturday night was my first real exposure to the young college basketball season as I tuned into an epic early season matchup between then No. 1 Florida and then No. 12 Kansas. With the game very much in contention as the second half wound down, a familiar voice continued to resonate from the announcer’s table until my father finally yelled “Shut up! Shut up!” in the direction of the television and we watched the last five minutes of regulation and the entire overtime (Kansas eventually won) with the sound off.
That voice was the jubilant hyperventilation of the unmistakable Dick Vitale, ranting about Joakim Noah’s political views, Jumpin’ Julian (Wright)’s vertical, and other random gibberish all while sounding as excited as if he just won the Super Bowl, had his first child, defeated Communism and grew his hair back in the same instant.
Considering my father’s disgust with Vitale’s hyperactive delivery, I started one of my regular internal debates about whether or not I liked the don of college basketball announcing.
One side of my brain — according to my former psych professor, it is the left side — represents the enthusiastic sports fan that admires passionate displays of conviction from those inside the sports kingdom. The other side, which must be the right, is the cynical, smug journalist who lives to mock other people’s eccentricities and jokingly point out their flaws. We will call the former pro-Dick (PD) and the latter anti-Dick (AD). (Pun possibly intended.)
Welcome inside my head — let the debate begin:
PD: Dickie V is in a class of his own in sports announcing, as venerable as John Madden, except not yet senile. He is an essential part of the college basketball universe and the game would not be the same without him.
AD: You are right: the game would be much quieter and less obnoxious. I’m glad we are in agreement.
PD: You know that is not what I mean; his enthusiasm is unrivaled and he gets me excited about pre-season tournaments, turns me on to players I’ve never heard of and makes every spectacular play seem divine. There is a reason that ESPN has him do all of its big games.
AD: Yes, there is. He clearly has access to the same top-secret files as Brent Musburger that contain information about some sort of corruption involving the higher-ups of the Disney empire and the illegal use of dwarves for slave labor. They are clearly blackmailing the company into giving them all the marquee games. This needs to be discussed further on Outside the Lines.
PD: You are just absurd, he has been doing this since ESPN covered its first college basketball game in 1979 — he is practically an institution. He must be doing something right. He offers a rare perspective of genuine unbiased enthusiasm for the game that allows outsiders unbridled access to college basketball.
AD: I’m sorry, did you just say “unbiased.” You are clearly delirious from too many DiGiorno pizzas because he has never had a negative thing come out of his mouth about a any team or player… and he displays a clear bias for certain teams, especially Duke and Coach K. And I know we both “dislike” Duke.
PD: Agreed about Duke, but as usual you digress. I still disagree about his supposed bias. He is merely fervent about impressive college basketball. He supports solid hoops — he doesn’t care who is playing — and is passionate about the game itself. In fact, I would argue that his insane amount of positive subjectivity actually results in an impartial analysis of the game.
AD: Did you listen to what you just said? That makes no sense at all, he is extremely partial. I mean, can you imagine this guy as a head coach in the NBA — which he was. How did he teach his players anything, saying nonsense like “You gotta step out on the high screen and role if you want to be a PTP’er baby or else he’s gonna nail a trifecta in your face or dish it off to the diaper dandy for a dipsy-doo dunk-a-roo.” Uh… yes Coach.
PD: You are changing the subject again; no wonder nothing ever gets accomplished when we argue — you are harder to talk to than an NBA official. All I’m saying is Dickie V is good for sports. How can you dislike a guy that is such an ambassador for the game, travels around to provide motivation to young people, and heads countless charitable organizations?
AD: Whoa, let’s not turn this into an apples versus oranges debate. We are of one mind that he is a tremendous person and does numerous good deeds for the sport — I just get tired of the excessive pomp he brings to basketball.
PD: You are starting to sound almost rational; it’s making me a bit uncomfortable. I mean, there is no doubt that it can get a little bit over the top, especially when you can tell he is already losing his voice in November, but I just can’t imagine college hoops without him.
AD: So pretty much you are agreeing with me and declaring me victorious in this debate? Hold on, let me cue “One Shining Moment.”
PD: Stop, that’s not what…
AD: Okay, argument over. YEEEEESSSSSHHHH!
Once the voices in my head quieted down, I was able to come to an undeniable conclusion: I am definitely a schizophrenic lunatic… oh, and Dickie V is here to stay… Baby.
Patrick Blakemore is a Sun Staff Writer. Got Game? will appear every other Tuesday this semester.