Holly Rowe filling in on play-by-play.

There have been plenty of cases of broadcasts losing play-by-play audio over the years, and there are some further challenges to that in an era where more broadcasts than ever are being called remotely (thanks to both COVID-19 and budgetary concerns). This year alone, we’ve seen announcers lose their camera feed and call the game based off live play trackers (that happened to Dave Flemming and Rod Gilmore during a USC-Utah football game a couple weeks back), and we’ve seen internet issues for the remote play-by-play announcer lead to analysts and sideline reporters filling in (that happened to Tom Hart on a Mississippi State-Kentucky football game in October, leading to Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic delivering play-by-play for a while). The latest case of something along these lines came during the ESPN broadcast of #11 West Virginia-#1 Gonzaga (at the Jimmy V Classic, held in Indianapolis) Wednesday, where the remote booth Dan Shulman (play-by-play) and Jay Bilas (analysis) were working from hit technical issues. Sideline reporter Holly Rowe was actually on site, and she did an admirable job of taking over play-by-play for several minutes until Shulman and Bilas got back online. Here’s how this started, with Rowe delivering a sideline injury report and then hearing only silence in response:


Shortly after that, Rowe updated viewers on the technical issues, and then started doing play-by-play:

Rowe would do this for several minutes, and do it impressively, especially considering that she was stepping way outside her planned role for the telecast. Here’s one example of a full play-by-play call from her:

Here’s another one, which was a nice job of integrating some of the details she knows about players (which you might normally hear in a sideline update) with play-by-play of what was happening:

And here’s how this ended, with Rowe throwing it back to Shulman and Bilas, and with Shulman offering high praise for her work:

Shulman also praised Rowe on Twitter, and even said “I think I just got Wally Pipped!”

And many others had high praise for Rowe:

That’s a solid performance from Rowe in the clutch, and her work definitely helped make this broadcast better during the time when Shulman and Bilas were off-air.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.