In his comedy film “History of the World, Part I,” Mel Brooks plays, among other parts, a randy French King Louis XVI. His signature line, delivered whenever he whets his carnal appetites, is “it’s good to be the king.” I think of that observation at this time of year with one modification: “It’s good to be Jim Nantz.”
For those unfamiliar with the CBS sportscaster’s upcoming schedule, this weekend he will be courtside in New Orleans at Caesars Superdome. There as play-by-play announcer he’ll call the Final Four, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinal and final games.
Then it’s a quick flight to Augusta National Golf Club, where he will cover The Masters, the PGA Tour’s premier golf tournament. This will be Mr. Nantz’s 31st Final Four and 37th Masters, something I’ll surely reflect upon as I roll my family’s squeaky trash cans out to the curb.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a glorious time, whether attending one of these spectacles in person or, more likely, watching on television. For my money, it’s the best nine days in sports, but make no mistake. It’s different for us mortals.
Next week millions will watch “One Shining Moment,” the NCAA tournament’s closing montage, bleary-eyed in bed. Later, countless more will take in Sunday at Augusta from easy chairs. Jim Nantz won’t be watching these events from a reclined or semi-reclined position. He will be living them.
This isn’t envy, a deadly sin. I am blessed with an abiding faith, a loving family, and steadfast friends. Yet I think back to my senior year of high school – career day, specifically – and wonder: What booth did Jim Nantz see that I missed? Happy though I am for the talented telecaster, I have questions that go to the heart of production quality.
Does Jim Nantz sigh not upon waking at dawn, like most working stiffs, but rather as he drifts off, knowing dreams are small beer next to his real life? Is next week’s calendar simply marked “Bucket List, Again”? When work is done and it’s time to relax, where – and more perplexing, why – does he go to get away from it all?
There is, in other words, no risk of complacency by summoning me off the bench for one or both assignments. My Virginia Cavaliers are not competing, so I’d call the Final Four without fear or favor. And borrowing from “Caddyshack’s” Judge Smails, another golf-loving jurist, I don’t want to cover The Masters for Jim Nantz. I feel I owe it to him.
Should CBS Sports stick with its seasoned professional, I won’t begrudge Jim Nantz his good fortune. He seems a genuinely grateful man, one whose nightly prayers might go something like this: “Heavenly Father, all I ask of tomorrow is … you know what? Never mind. You’ve called a flawless game.”