This week, we’re celebrating the highs, the lows, the best, and the worst of the year with The Awfulies. We introduced our end-of-year awards last year, and we’ve expanded the categories even further this time, with the entire Awful Announcing staff voting for who they think should take home the coveted golden microphone. Keep an eye on category and winner reveals all week long. And be sure to let us know who your pick would have been for the winners.

Let’s find out what the best and worst sports media moments of 2023 were, as voted on by the Awful Announcing staff.

Best Sports Media Moment of 2023

There was no shortage of memorable and amazing moments in the world of sports media in 2023. Early on in the year, the Kelce Bowl set the tone for Travis and Jason’s domination of the sports podcasting world, Travis’s ascension in the media landscape, and the Taylor Swift-ification of the NFL. Shannon Sharpe tearfully ending his run on Undisputed across from Skip Bayless was a whole thing. Cleveland Guardians announcer Tom Hamilton’s epic call of the Jose Ramirez-Tim Anderson fight was legendary. Thinking about Marcus Spears eating a BBQ plate during NFL Live always makes us chuckle. And CBS getting Verne, Brad, and Gary together to say goodbye to the SEC on CBS was poetic and heartfelt.

Ultimately, however, there was a clear moment in time that stood out from the crowd and sticks with us even now.

Winner: MLB broadcasters rally around Kevin Brown following suspension

It’s rare to see widespread agreement on almost anything in sports media these days. But the situation with the Baltimore Orioles and Kevin Brown produced that. As AA reported in early August, Brown was removed from the Orioles’ TV booth following a July 23 game (and from all of their broadcasts following a July 26 radio game) over comments that “The Orioles have won more games against [the Tampa Bay Rays] this season than the last two combined.”

The incredibly innocuous nature of those comments sparked remarkable support for Brown. And that was seen across the MLB announcing world, the media world, the announcing world, and beyond. It even included “Free Kevin Brown” chants at an Oriolesgame.

Well, Brown was eventually freed. He returned to the booth on August 11 after a statement that Yankees’ voice Michael Kay described as a “hostage tape.” And he was soon back in the form that saw the Orioles’ TV broadcasts ranked 10th out of 30 MLB teams in our 2023 reader rankings vote (taken this summer before his removal). Some highlights from his return to the booth included calls of Cedric Mullins’ great catch and home run, a perfect “Go crazy, Baltimore” after the Orioles’ first division title since 2014, and even an explanation of blink-182 to analyst Ben McDonald.

Orioles’ chairman and CEO John Angelos said later in August on the Brown situation that “Nothing like that is going to happen again.” We’ll see if that proves true. But the world’s support for Brown certainly played a role in rectifying this situation. – Andrew Bucholtz

Worst Sports Media Moment of 2023

Just like with the best sports media moments of the year, we had plenty to choose from when it came to the worst. Bob Huggins’ career-ending radio interview was certainly memorable for all the wrong reasons.  The whole Pat McAfee-Aaron Rdogers thing continues to rub people the wrong way. The latest round of ESPN layoffs were certainly depressing for several reasons. Netflix’s Swamp Kings “documentary” was emblematic of the larger issue around modern sports documentaries. The LIV Golf-PGA Tour War led to some ugly public battles and a confusing conclusion. And who can forget Skip Bayless’s comments about Damar Hamlin and the ensuing controversy?

However, we had one overwhelming winner for what we considered the low point of the sports media year.

Winner (Loser?): Charissa Thompson admits to making up stories as a sideline reporter

If your first reaction to reading this was to roll your eyes, please know you are exactly the reason that this admission is so bad. Sideline reporting has been dealing with a perception problem for a while now. That it only exists for certain kinds of people to stand there, look attractive, and say something that doesn’t add value to your experience watching the game.

But being a sideline reporter is often a lot like being an offensive lineman. When you’re really good at your job, most people watching at home don’t even notice. Good sideline reporters are able to inform viewers with relevant information quickly and provide context that might otherwise go unnoticed. We’ve grown so accustomed to much of it (injury updates, coach quotes, weather reports) that we’ve just come to expect it and don’t see the work that goes into it.

Whatever you think of sideline reporting, it’s still journalism and it’s held to the same standards as any reporter, anchor, or media member. So when Charissa Thompson gleefully admitted that she would, on occasion, make up fake quotes for sideline reports during Fox games, the only thing more shocking was the intensity with which sports media members and other sideline reporters reacted. Thompson hadn’t just offended her peers but the thousands of sports media members who would kill to be in her position. And beyond that, it was just a really bad look, full stop.

Maybe you think this was a non-story or way overblown. That’s fine. But, as with any job, the people who dedicate their lives to this industry, and to this job specifically, were done dirty by Thompson, and her admission will linger in the air over every sideline reporter for the foreseeable future. – Sean Keeley

Check out all of the 2023 Awfulies winners here.