Joe Buck on Undeniable.

Headline errors happen, sometimes from typos and sometimes from stories published too soon, but some of the most pushback comes when a story’s subject doesn’t think the headline represents what they actually said. The latest case of that comes from Fox announcer Joe Buck against a Twitter headline from Sports Illustrated, and he’s right.

Buck attracted a lot of attention Wednesday night for his comments on SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live that if NFL games are played without fans thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, pumping in crowd noise (whether previously recorded or delivered live from offsite locations) “is pretty much a done deal.” But his discussion with Cohen also saw him talking about how Fox was “looking at ways to put virtual fans in the stands.” Buck had made some previous remarks about inserting crowd noise, including on HBO’s Real Sports last month, but this marked the most definitive he’s been on that front, so his remarks were newsworthy and were covered by plenty of outlets.

But one of those outlets, Sports Illustrated, conflated crowd noise (which Buck said “I know they’ll do it” about, although he wasn’t specific about the exact manner of delivering it) and virtual fans (which he said they were only “looking at”) in their coverage of this. And one of their tweets about it led to Twitter pushback from Buck Wednesday. First, the tweet Buck commented on has been deleted, but here’s a screencap of it from AA’s Ben Koo (it also contained an image with a link to the SI story, but that didn’t transfer):

SI tweet Joe Buck

Here’s another tweet along those lines with a graphic and a link to the story. This tweet was still on SI’s account as of 12:30 p.m. Eastern Thursday:

And here are Buck’s complaints about this:

SI has also updated their article with a correction at the bottom, but weirdly, the correction only covers their line on how definitive Buck was about the noise, not the bigger error (their claim that Buck said Fox would use virtual fans, something he only said they were “working on”):

Correction: This story originally indicated that Buck said Fox was definitely planning to pump in crowd noise during games without fans. It has been updated to reflect that Buck did not definitively commit to Fox using artificial crowd noise. SI regrets the error.

SI is far from the only outlet to make Twitter errors or headline errors, but this one’s notable for a few reasons, starting with the pushback it got from Buck. And he was correct to push back on the virtual fans aspect; he did not say that Fox “will add” virtual fans this year, as SI’s tweet stated, but that “they’re looking at ways to put virtual fans in the stands.” The tweet combines the two things he discussed (crowd noise and virtual fans) and claims he said they’re both at the “will add” level, and that’s not true for what he said about virtual fans. And that led to SI becoming the story themselves, which is just the latest in a string of poor recent looks for them.

[Screengrab of Buck at top from a 2017 Undeniable clip]

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.