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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

End of an Era

When I became Managing Editor and principal blogger at TDS, I resolved to try very hard not to write about college football, which I did often in the autumn at my previous New Donkey haunts. I have to break the self-imposed rule today on the news that the Voice of the Georgia Bulldogs, Larry Munson, is retiring after 42 years on the air. After all, it’s a major story at the International Herald-Tribune.
But I’ll try to give this news some Georgia political context.
When Munson broadcast his first Georgia game in September of 1966, the state had just experienced its first racially integrated high school football game (Carver vs. North Fulton, which I attended as a member of the North Fulton marching band). Jimmy Carter was a lame-duck state senator who had recently lost his first statewide campaign, and who would soon vote in the legislature (charged under an archaic constitution to make the choice) to elect arch-segregationist Lester Maddox to the governorship. Sam Nunn was two years away from his first election to the Georgia legislature. Newt Gingrich was a graduate student at Tulane. Martin Luther King, Jr., was alive and well. John Lewis had been replaced earlier in the year by Stokely Charmichael as chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Commitee (SNCC).
It was a very different time.
But the weird thing is that Munson was already a broadcast veteran by then, having been the Voice of the Wyoming Cowboys and of the Vanderbilt Commoderes before arriving in Georgia. He started doing football broadcasts when Harry Truman was a doomed appointed president, and Joe McCarthy was a little-known freshman senator from Wisconsin.
I know nothing about Munson’s politics, if he has any. And he achieved national fame with his hysterical calls of key positive moments in Georgia football history. But those of us who listened to him week-in and week-out know him for his exceptionally paranoid style: every Georgia opponent was a behemoth; no Georgia lead was ever big enough; no trailing margin was ever surmountable; and the clock always moved too slowly when we were ahead and too quickly when we were behind. In other words, Larry Munson sounded just like a generation of Democratic political pundits, right up until the day he retired.
Munson’s initimable voice will be missed. But I’m hoping his inveterate pessimism about Georgia football will prove inappropriate this year, much as I hope Democratic pessimism about the November 4 election is as archaic as the riviting fear Dawg fans once had when a Ray Goff team faced Steve Spurrier.

One comment on “End of an Era

  1. Brian Gaerity on

    The diversion is greatly appreciated, at least by this former Georgia resident and South Carolina alum (who is married to an Auburn grad)! Your description of Munson’s Bulldog broadcasts is dead on. Listening to him is always entertaining, thrilling and — at least to those of us who root for other SEC teams — infuriatingly partisan. Terrible loss for Bulldog fans as well as anyone who appreciates old-school sports radio.

    Reply

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