Objectivity—It's for the Birds

Nick LiljaCorrespondent IApril 29, 2009

The ethical police are going to find me, cuff me, and Rodney King me. Lindsay Schnell will be on my doorstep later today ready to kick me in shin. Or slap me in the face. It’s a tough life being me. Deja Vu, you say?

Then again, staying 100-percent professionally objective isn’t that much fun, either.

If I’m lucky enough to have anything in common with Oregon State play-by-play man, Mike Parker, it’s that I too think professional objectivity isn’t as much fun.

Who came up with that phrase anyway? Professional objectivity. And who decided it was so important for college sports?

I’ve been told anything but professional objectivity isn’t ethical in the media. To be fair, it's true to an extent. A reporter shouldn't be in the press box cheering and clapping but root-root-rooting for the home team is as American as pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Or a ferris wheel with cotton candy and a cute blonde.

Besides, skirting that line of professional objectivity has landed Parker one hell of a career. I don’t see people complaining, I see people applauding. Parker has managed create his own sort of alchemy. He has turned a radio broadcast into a spectacle that people now keep on their computers and mp3 players—even I’m guilty of that.

Since he first began in 1999, Mike Parker has been a blessing to the Oregon State Beavers.

“My first football season was ’99, which also coincided with Erickson’s arrival, so after 28 straight losing seasons in football I head the shear joy of being able to call the night against Cal when the 28 years of losing were put to rout.” Parker said in a March 13th interview on The NickelBlock.

Alchemy might be his middle name. Since his arrival the Beavers have went to numerous bowl games in football, won the CBI in men’s basketball and won back-to-back national championships in baseball.

He is finishing up his ninth year calling games for the Beavers and has managed to win the Oregon Sportscaster of the Year award five times. Parker has won in ’99, ’02, back-to-back years in ’05 and ‘06 and again in '08. Because, who likes Brian Wheeler, anyway?

And he has won over the fans, too.

He is loved by everyone in Beaver Nation—even has his own Facebook fan club. Can the U of O play-by-play announcer say that? And regardless of what he thinks, people love his passion and excitement.

“I go a little too crazy I think, when I listen back sometimes, I think, man there’s a guy that’s going absolutely nuts.” Parker said

He doesn't summarize events, he uses the airwaves as a canvas. With vocabulary as his brush, rhetoric his paint and mastery of nomenclature his colors – he creates. Each phrase, each stroke, giving way to an eventual masterpiece. Shaded a bit orange.

“It’s difficult to maintain any focus or professional objectivity in moments like that, I throw it all out the window and go nuts, now it may not be the best thing as a professional, but it’s a lot of fun to cut loose like that” Parker said.

Sure, the professionally objective thing to do is sit back, collect himself, then say the breaking ball pitch fell off the outside half and it was a questionable call or the converted two-point attempt gave the Beavers the lead. But, that’s not Mike Parker.

“When Van Orsow knocked down the pass against USC…At that moment I was on top of the press box in Reser up on the table in front of me high-fiving Jim Wilson.”

Some people in the Pac-10 media might not agree with his philosophy. Some might think he is unethical, not objective enough or just plain crazy. Others, like Beaver fans all over know that professional objectivity isn’t significant because it’s just the American side of Parker coming out. Root-root-rooting for his home team.

“Those games have just been awesome to be apart of, I still get chills thinking about them.”

So do we, Mike.