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Scott D. Pierce: Are Bolerjack, Harpring pulling for the Jazz? Of course!

Published April 18, 2012 11:38 pm

Sports on TV • Broadcast team works for home team and home fans, and makes no apologies.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring are criticized for many things. Which comes with the territory.

In the age of the Internet and anonymous postings, everybody who has a public profile is going to get flamed.

Not that the Utah Jazz broadcast team is particularly worried about it. Especially when that criticism simply states the obvious — that Bolerjack and Harpring are sort of root, root, rooting for the home team.

"If that's the criticism, then we're going to take it," Harpring said. "Because, you're right, we are for the Jazz. We want the Jazz to win."

"We travel with them, we spend a lot of time with them," Bolerjack said of the Jazz players. "We do have personal connections with them. And we want to see them do well.

"It's like being out here watching my sons. Some of these guys are 20, 21, 22."

To continue with the obvious, Bolerjack and Harpring are employees of the Utah Jazz. More importantly, they're working for Jazz fans. These are not national telecasts, they're regional. And the vast majority of viewers who watch Jazz games on ROOT Sports are Utah fans.

No matter how much homework they do, Bolerjack and Harpring know more about the Jazz than they do about their opponents. More importantly, their viewers are more interested in the Jazz than they are in their opponents. So, clearly, they're going to talk more about the Jazz.

And when Utah loses a close game, you can hear it in their voices.

"Those one-point, at-the-buzzer losses are tough," Bolerjack said. "I feel for them. And for the fans."

Anybody who wants to criticize Bolerjack and Hapring for being homers, however, ought to spend a little bit of time listening to the home broadcasts of other teams. There are some that are so over-the-top the play-by-play guy and analyst might as well be leading cheers.

The Jazz guys, on the other hand, tend to ride the fine line between being the home-team guys and producing a telecast that non-Jazz fans can watch without being driven to distraction — which is not an easy thing to do.

"I've always prided myself on being a professional," Bolerjack said.

"We try to not go too far," Harpring said. "But if we were on a teeter-totter, we're going to lean toward the Jazz side more than we are the other side.

"But on the other side of that, I've caught flak because I'll be the first to criticize the Jazz when they don't step up and they're not playing the way that they should."

The most severe criticism Bolerjack and Harpring encounter is from fans who think they're not pro-Jazz enough.

(That's not exactly anything new. Way back in 1996, when Bolerjack was calling BYU basketball games on KSL, then-BYU coach Roger Reid took him to task for not being pro-Cougars enough.)

"You can't make everybody happy," Bolerjack said. "We know that. We just have to do the best job we can every night."

And, over the course of a season, the pair do just that. There's no such thing as calling a perfect game, let alone 82 (or 66) perfect games, but Bolerjack and Harpring make a good team — a better team than what a lot of NBA franchises are working with.

If you're a rabid Jazz fan and you're looking to be annoyed while watching your team on TV, watch when TNT does a game.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.