Every time you turn on a TV to watch a sporting event you come across a collection of commentators who are in charge of providing the color and information of the game. There are many commentators that are great, not just because they are good at recognizing what the relevant facts or background information is that is pertinent at any given moment, but also because they have a particular skill when it comes to showing emotion and getting the listeners to also feel the excitement in any given game.

However, there are also a good number of commentators that I find, well, annoying. I am not going to point out any by name, but merely point out some of the things that I don’t think they do very well when they commentate. One thing that I have noticed from time to time has been in the improper use of the English language, which I think is inexcusable to a professional commentator on television. The simple distinction between when to use the words “good” and “well” are often times blurred, which I think translates into a confused public audience and in my case, frustration. A player can never play “good”, but rather in that context players can only play well. They can have good games, not well games, be good at certain things or they can do certain things well. Perhaps you guys have never noticed these grammatical errors in the professional world, or maybe you have and it just doesn’t bother you. But in my case, I would like some consistency with the English language.

Another thing that I have found irritating when listening to sports commentators is when they state the obvious, or get something obvious wrong. There are instances of professionals who, as a time filler, might just state something so obvious it is literally not even worth stating. For example, “the team’s objective is to score as many points as possible, so I think that is what they are going to do”. Duh! I find this kind of comment to be insulting to the audience, and I think it would be better to say something new and refreshing to fill time rather than waste my time with comments like that. Further, there have been times when a coach on the field calls to review a play, and the commentators often time analyze it and say how they think it will be called but have been completely incorrect. This doesn’t bother me as much as the prior pet-peeves, but I think it is worth noting that if they are going to predict a call-reversal, they should make good arguments and consider all angles.

Overall, I have a deep respect for what these people do. It is very difficult to provide commentation of a game or an event in a way that keeps everyone interested, to maintain a sense of professionalism and presence, to represent not just themselves but the station and sports world in general, and I could only imagine how difficult it would be to never make a mistake while on the job, like this unfortunate newscaster below. (Caution, video may be slightly inappropriate – but offers a great example of a commentation mistake that could end a career).

In your experiences listening to commentators, have you noticed any of the things that I have discussed above? Also, what are your thoughts on the the newscaster in the video above – did he save himself with the apology or should he be fired?

Kevin Schneider


2 comments so far

  1. carospence on

    I am a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Last year during the playoffs I became increasingly annoyed with the commentators during the Celtics game because all they were talking about was Rajon Rondo and only considering the effort of the Cavs in comparison with Rondo’s performance. I think when commentators become stuck on the topic of one player it is not helpful to the viewers. Sure, it is great to know Rondo’s stats and sure, he is a great player but he is not the only one on the court. Also, when commentators focus on a player, they are subtly choosing sides. I have an understanding that the role of commentator is to comment on the game from a relatively objective standpoint in order to help those at home follow along and be updated on the season. I felt that in the case of the Celtics game, those commentators were too focused on Rondo and that this not only prevented other useful information from being shared but also showed a bias that alienated Cavs fans.

  2. lewingj on

    Hardly a fireable offense. Slip-ups happen.
    As irritating as it can be for the English language to be used improperly, i think you would find that it is not all that uncommon, especially among sports commentators who, unlike a cable news host, is not necessarily expected to have command of the English language. Yes you can argue that if you are on TV you should be able to speak properly, but that is not always the most important requirement for the producers who put these people on the air. Credibility and knowledge of the game seem to be more important and so many of these people, at least the ones providing color commentary, are former athletes themselves. The audience wants to listen to someone who knows what they are talking about and apparently producers are more concerned with what they know then how they say it. It’s not all that surprising then that maybe more people are not upset about improper use of language because there is the perception (whether true or not) that athletes may be less educated. This shows that sometimes ethos, logos, or the content of the message can mean more than the style with which it is conveyed.

    Jake Lewing

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