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April 21st, 2009 at 10:20 am

Leonard Cassuto, English Professor, on John Madden, Football Announcer

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Leonard Cassuto, the author of Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories, argues that recently retired football announcer John Madden “made us smarter.”

Admittedly, Cassuto’s book has nothing to do with football but his WSJ article does offer an insightful assessment of Madden’s talent and impact. Cassuto commends Madden for giving the viewer credit for wanting to know more about the game and offering “intellectual explanations” about strategy. However, he was also always entertaining. Cassuto writes, “Football is both unusually technical and unusually violent. Mr. Madden entertained his viewers because he embraced both elements. His onscreen persona combined the hyperenthusiastic fan with the hyperanalytical coach.”

Cassuto also cites Madden’s influence on announcers in other sports who have emulated his more analytical approach and applied to baseball, basketball, etc:

Mr. Madden raised the intelligence level of sports announcing. A whole generation of TV viewers has grown up on the most rigorously analytical play-by-play announcing in the long history of sports. It’s not too much to believe that for once, television is making them smarter.

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