If you’re a sports fan of any sort, there’s an, oh, 99.9 percent chance that you’ve listened to Joe Buck. From the NFL to the World Series, Buck is one of the most recognizable voices and one of the most accomplished broadcasters in the business.
He’s also one of the most polarizing. Some fans, in fact, have petitioned to remove him from the Fox broadcast team.
Buck, 47, takes it in stride.
“At some point, you have to just not care,” Buck said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s a different era. It’s unfortunate on one level. I think social media is great. I use it as a tool. It’s taken down a government, and so it’s powerful. But for the sports fan, it’s a way to vent. I get it. I find myself reaching for my phone sometimes and I’m like, ‘Well, wait a minute. I’m not going to go down the same path others do.’ But I understand why they do because they’re emotional and they care about what they’re watching and they care about their team. You’re the outsider when you’re me, and you show up, so they perceive that you’re against them because you’re not rooting for them. So it’s easy to put it in its own category, and at some point, you just have to kind of laugh it off. Otherwise you’d never open your mouth again.
“So it’s a necessary evil,” Buck continued. “The bad part about it is it’s driven everybody into Boring-ville. If you’re willing to step out of the middle lane and say something with opinion or humor or whatever, don’t even bother going on social media or you’re going to be scared right back into being a drip. I’m tired of worrying about what everybody thinks. I work for Fox. If they don’t like what I’m doing, that’s one thing. If Billy Joe 8-4-2 doesn’t like it, I really don’t care.”
Brandon Tierney knows exactly what Buck is referring to. Tierney feels that today’s sports broadcasts have become “so stuffy and so benign and so empty,” as sports personalities have become “paralyzed” because they’re afraid to speak and really say what they feel.
Frankly, it takes away from the game itself.
“Honest to God, I could not agree with you more,” Buck said. “You think about the great broadcasters – Vin Scully is going out this year, and so everybody thinks romantically about back in the day. My dad, (Jack Buck), was one of those guys, and Bob Prince in Pittsburgh and Harry Caray – those guys had personalities, and they said stuff that would not be politically correct today. There’s stuff my dad said on the air that would get him literally fired by the end of the broadcast, and it’s too bad because they’re all known as, ‘Oh, those guys were so great back in the day.’ Well, those people aren’t extinct. It’s just that you’re not really allowed to say anything because everybody’s so ready to get mad about whatever’s coming out of somebody’s mouth. You see it in the political world. It’s just nasty. . . . I’m looked at as a thing, not a person. So you get beat up on social media, but who cares? It just becomes a competition to see who can be meaner. After awhile, you just don’t care. It doesn’t matter.”