No Need To Apologize, Bob
Earlier this week, I had lunch with a friend of mine who is one of the few die-hard IndyCar fans here in Nashville. After we got back from lunch, he asked me if I had seen the Bob Jenkins apology on Track Forum.com. I reminded him that I don’t even have an account at Track Forum and I didn’t know what he was talking about. He pulled it up and showed it to me. I had to just shake my head.
For those that have not heard, Bob Jenkins felt compelled to atone for what he termed a sub-par performance on the Versus telecast of the São Paulo Indy 300. He curiously chose Track Forum as the place to issue his apology. Before all the Track Forum fans start blasting me for ripping their site, even though I don’t have an account there doesn’t mean I haven’t been to their site. It’s just that after reading all of the bile that is spewed on there, I always feel the need to shower afterwards. Consequently, I never saw the need to become a regular among the legions of the miserable…but I digress.
Back to Bob Jenkins; I don’t know why he felt the need to explain anything. Perhaps some of the fanatics were tearing him to shreds for lack of anything better to do. Other than mistakenly using the word “brassiere” for Brazil, I didn’t notice any major gaffes. I wouldn’t say it was the best race I ever heard anyone call, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. That honor will probably always be held by Todd Harris. One of the best things to say about Jenkins is that he never gets in the way of the broadcast. He does his job, stays out of the way and allows the action on the track to be the star of the show.
The job of a broadcaster is much harder than it looks. I’ve never done it, but I’ve talked to some that have. There are different voices yelling from all directions in your ear. You have to be aware of so much going on; which pit reporter to go to next, when the next commercial window is coming up, when to expect the next round of pit stops along with the x-factor of the unexpected crashes and yellows.
All the while, you are expected to juggle all of that and still relay the happenings to the viewer in a smooth and seemingly effortless delivery. Added to all of that was the fact that Bob and his partners in the booth were thousands of miles away from the action, watching pretty much the same feed as we were. It’s a tough job that goes unappreciated these days because so many of them do it so well. Included in that list is Bob Jenkins.
If you want to get a taste of what bad announcing is – spend an evening at ESPN-U. That is where promising broadcasting careers go to die. It is a combination of a few never-were’s along with a handful of never-will-be’s. Some of these Track Forum loons need to go over there and sample their wares for a couple of hours, before crucifying Bob Jenkins for no reason.
To me, the voice of Bob Jenkins simply resonates “Auto Racing”. A native Hoosier, he was one of the original broadcasters on the fledgling ESPN when it was launched in 1979. He served as the lead anchor for what I thought was a great NASCAR team – Jenkins, Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons. Along with becoming the Voice of the 500 on the IMS Radio Network from 1990 to 1998, Jenkins also hosted Speedweek, which was about the only way a motorsports junkie could get their fix in the days before the internet. In the early stages of my adult life, Bob Jenkins was THE television broadcast voice of racing.
He is now 62 years old – an age that was ancient when I was in my twenties. Now, it just means he’s experienced. He still has a good voice, his delivery is strong and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in broadcast circles that carry around as much racing knowledge in their cranium as Bob does.
Most know that one of my favorite blog sites is The Silent Pagoda. If that derelict Hobbson can keep himself sober enough to hit a keyboard, he writes great stuff. In fact, if I were to be assured that he wasn’t reading this, I would apply the word “genius” to his sense of humor. And his articles are just slightly funnier than his loyal followers who comment regularly.
However, the other day he had a reader comment in the midst of all the craziness that goes on over there, that just sort of killed the party. This lone curmudgeon went off on a tirade about Bob Jenkins that was so off base I almost thought there was a punch line to follow. There wasn’t. I won’t dignify the comments by repeating them, but they were unfounded, untrue and completely uncalled for.
For my taste, it’s a toss-up between Paul Page and Bob Jenkins as to who I would rather listen to. On the NASCAR side, I’ll give a tip of the hat to Mike Joy. He does a solid job, considering the clowns he has to work with. On the F1 side, I’ll give credit to Bob Varsha who fits nicely in this small mix as well.
Bob Jenkins is an iconic figure in this sport. For all of those who complained about Bob, behind the anonymity and safety of a keyboard – I never read any suggestions of who out there might do a better job. Perhaps they were delusional enough to think that they themselves could. And for those that will bring up my previous comments about IMS broadcaster Mike King – we’re not even talking in the same league
I firmly believe that Mr. Jenkins should apologize to no one. He has paid his dues in this sport, many times over. Should he stumble once or twice on a broadcast – so what? It happens. It’s live TV. I’ve heard my share of blunders from Jim Nance, Bob Costas and Al Michaels – and I don’t hear people calling for their heads. No…Bob Jenkins has reached a point where he has earned everything he has gotten. In fact, I think it’s an insult that a talent like his is relegated to a niche-sport network. Versus is lucky to have him and they seem to know and appreciate it. Some of the more miserable fans of the sport should take note.