The modern "streaming wars" has resulted in no shortage of outlets, streaming services and cable channels that air sports these days.
Therefore, the number of announcers on the airwaves has never been higher. The same could be said of the talent on the broadcasts.
So that got us thinking – what would be the best broadcast booth today? USA TODAY Sports assembled seven staffers to "draft" their fantasy broadcast team.
Some legendary names were called. Other broadcasting Hall of Famers were not selected. This was a totally subjective exercise, with loose rules in place (two teams selected two play-by-play announcers – interesting choices!). The sporting "event" itself wasn't even specified.
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We did try to follow the format of: play-by-play (1), analyst (2) and reporter/host (1) per team. Creativity was encouraged and, really, the lone stipulation was that the person was alive (which explains some selections).
The results and explanations from each "GM" following the four-round snake draft are below.
Play-by-play: Vin Scully
Analyst 1: Dick Vitale
Analyst 2: Monica McNutt
Reporter/Host: Tom Rinaldi
When I think about sports broadcasting, there should be a certain entertainment value. After all, fans are craving the action on a field or the hardwood. My ultimate broadcast team takes you on a complete journey. There will be laughs, puns, great analysis and jokes of course. It is something for everyone from infants to great-grandparents.
Vin Scully welcomes fans into the action after they’ve had a long day at work. His soothing voice reaches the blue-collar worker. Dick Vitale joins him to bring some "sauce" to the broadcast. Fans fall in love with his eccentric one-liners and genuine care for the athletes.
On the sidelines, Tom Rinaldi adds levity to the proceedings. His human interest reports focus on the life outside of the lines. It adds positivity and introduces audiences to athletes in a sentimental scope. Fans will get to know the player’s "why" for performing at a high level.
Finally, Monica McNutt speaks to the action as a former player. She expertly blends with Vitale and gives you the X's and O's in a new way. Plus, the witty banter will keep audiences glued for the long haul.
These elements might be quirky, but they work well to increase the fan experience. In the end, isn't the joy of the game what it is all about?
— Jaylon Thompson
Play-by-play: Joe Buck
Analyst 1: Doris Burke
Analyst 2: Jeff Van Gundy
Reporter/Host: Maria Taylor
When you are blessed with the No. 2 overall pick of the sports announcer fantasy draft, how could you not select Doris Burke, the trailblazing analyst who paved the way for many women. Burke is as sharp as she is charismatic in the booth and basketball superfan Drake isn’t the only one fangirling over her. Safe to say, I am too.
With the 13th overall pick, I selected NFL and former MLB play-by-play announcer Joe Buck. Whether you love or hate him, Buck has been the consistent voice of football at Fox, so much so that ESPN nabbed Buck to host their "Monday Night Football" broadcast.
While we are on the topic of versality, Maria Taylor is a prime example of someone who can do it all: College football, the NBA, NFL and even the Olympics. She brings her calming presence and cool confidence to any broadcast. She’s a true professional.
Jeff Van Gundy is as honest a sportscaster as there is, and his witty banter and comical tirades are must-watch TV. Who else is going to complain about a call more than Van Gundy? Sports is entertainment after all, which is why I rounded out my dream broadcasting booth with him.
— Cydney Henderson
Play-by-play: Mike Tirico
Play-by-play: Sean McDonough
Analyst 1: Kirk Herbstreit
Reporter/Host: Allie LaForce
When the best overall play-by-play announcer is available at No. 3 and another great multi-talented play-by-play broadcaster is available in the second round, there was no way to pass them up. That’s why Mike Tirico and Sean McDonough were easy choices as my top two picks.
There simply aren’t many broadcasters as versatile as Tirico. When he was at ESPN, he touched just about every sports property they had – from the lead play-by-play analyst for "Monday Night Football" to the second lead play-by-play on NBA to World Cup to golf to Wimbledon and U.S. Open tennis. He’s doing the same at NBC. He is always well-prepared and has the right tone for the big and major moments, and knows how to manage a broadcast.
McDonough was blessed with a great voice and is great at using it. He also has shown a lot of versatility in the sports he calls, and you can tell he does extensive homework. The call on the last play of the rivalry college game between Michigan-Michigan State in October 2015 remains an all-time great moment.
My team is rounded out with Kirk Herbstreit as game analyst and Allie LaForce as sideline reporter. Herbstreit is easily the premier analyst in college football. Few are as good at breaking down what happened and why. And he doesn’t just talk; he always has something pertinent to add. As for the sideline reporter, Lisa Salters is the gold standard. But LaForce, a former women’s basketball player at Ohio University, is strong in her own right. She asks good questions and adds to the broadcast with her strong reporting.
— Larry Starks
Play-by-play: Gus Johnson
Analyst 1: Troy Aikman
Analyst 2: Louis Riddick
Reporter/Host: Lisa Salters
My scouts had identified Gus Johnson as our first pick from the start. He was No. 1 target on our boards: great motor, coach on the field, gym rat. Lisa Salters was an equally easy pick. She’s one of the few sideline reporters who gets interesting information from players, coaches and others on the teams she covers. Not the boilerplate boring stuff.
Louis Riddick is one of the best NFL analysts I’ve ever seen. He’s good at transferring his institutional knowledge as a longtime NFL executive and even as a player into concise and smart bites for the viewer. Can’t believe I got him with my third pick. That’s like the Patriots getting Tom Brady in the sixth round. Lastly, for really dumb reasons, some people don’t like Troy Aikman as an analyst, maybe because they believe he’s a Cowboys homer despite the fact he’s often pretty hard on his old team. Aikman is excellent and what I like about him most is his honesty and fearlessness.
Draft grade I am giving myself: A+++++
— Mike Freeman
Play-by-play: Jim Nantz
Analyst 1: Tony Romo
Analyst 2: Charles Barkley
Reporter/Host: Erin Andrews
As someone who’s participated in a fair number of fantasy drafts, I’m always looking for the best value with my pick. So when the best analyst in any sport is available at No. 5 overall, Tony Romo was a no-brainer to start my broadcast team. He’s smart, engaging and enormously popular. There aren’t many analysts who check all those boxes, so when another one of them happens to be available with my second-round pick, the opportunity to add Charles Barkley was too good to pass up. There will be no shortage of opinions (or laughs) in this broadcast booth!
For play-by-play duties, no one conveys the sense of a big moment in football, basketball or golf better than Jim Nantz. Pairing him with Romo, and getting both halves of CBS’s top NFL duo, made perfect sense. (Although I have to admit really wanting to go off the board for ESPN’s Bob Wischusen, the radio voice of the New York Jets, who’s impressively gone back and forth between golf and hockey this week.)
Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews, the gold standard among sideline reporters for over a decade, rounds out my crew. Amazing value at all four spots.
I’m just glad this draft didn’t have a salary cap …
— Steve Gardner (an actual fantasy sports Hall of Famer)
Play-by-play: Ian Darke
Play-by-play: Chris Fowler
Analyst 1: Bob Uecker
Reporter/Host: Pam Oliver
I don’t care about catch phrases, schtick or hype. Just tell me what I need to know.
I know the love for Vin Scully, but give me Bob Uecker any day. He’s sharp with his observations and funny as hell. Even when the Brewers are losing, Ueck makes it worth tuning in to the games.
Pam Oliver is the gold standard for sideline reporters. She’s smart and a good reporter, and I always learn something when she’s working a game. I still haven’t forgiven Fox for doing her dirty.
It is worth becoming a soccer fan to listen to Ian Darke. Knowledgeable with just the right amount of humor. Plus, everything sounds better in an English accent.
Somebody else took Joe Buck, but Chris Fowler is a close second when it comes to versatility. I’m always impressed when I see him call the U.S. Open and a football game the same weekend.
— Nancy Armour
Play-by-play: Bob Costas
Analyst 1: Pat McAfee
Analyst 2: Mina Kimes
Reporter/Host: Malika Andrews
With back-to-back picks to close out the round, I went with one bold pick that would likely be there later on (McAfee) and one that likely wouldn't have survived on the way back to me (Andrews).
Andrews is a full-fledged star, hosting NBA Countdown during the playoffs as a fill-in for Mike Greenberg, has tremendous sideline chops and hosts a daily ESPN NBA show. McAfee, the bombastic FanDuel-backed radio host and WWE contributor, would bring electricity to any broadcast of any event.
I followed that one up with another off-the-board selection in Kimes. She calls preseason games for the NFL's Rams and is a daily panelist on NFL Live, but Kimes isn't a regular on broadcasts. That should change. Smart people are good!
Finally, I relied on the depth at the play-by-play position to take me home. I realize this is a young-ish crew, especially compared to the squads my colleagues drafted, so Costas' selection serves a two-fold purpose: not only is he one of the greatest and most-accomplished announcers alive who will anchor the broadcast, but he'll also provide wisdom and expertise to this enthusiastic squad I've assembled.
— Chris Bumbaca
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY Sports: Charles Barkley or Pat McAfee? We had a sports announcer fantasy draft