Speaking of ESPN…

I never watch tennis, except for two weeks during January, when over the last couple of years, I’ve watched bits and pieces of the Australian Open, including some of the marathon matches that occurred last weekend, when the play lasted all the way until well past 11AM my time – 4AM in Melbourne. They stayed live through that whole time, some 16 hours.

I wouldn’t want to have to pay their satellite bills for that day, I have to say! 😉

However, there was one thing that I noticed in the coverage that went on in the middle of the night here – the commentators knew when to talk and when not to talk. For some reason, TV commentary of sport here, and overseas – I’ve seen plenty of it to know something about that – has commentators who must like the sound of their own voice. It’s not like radio where you have to describe everything. The commentators – Cliff Drysdale and Darren Cahill – let the pictures and the sound on the court do the talking. In fact, there were times when they’d go three or four minutes without commentary!

If you look over the history of TV commentators, you’ll see that the early ones had this knack – folks like Pat Summerall, Ray Scott, and also Harry Caray. It seems, though, that as the commentators had more toys to play with – telestrators, bizarre tools like the glowing hockey puck and Draft Track, and other bits and bobs – they started to feel this need to explain just about everything to the viewer – even the stuff we’d seen time and time again.

Of course, it’s not only the chatty character of commentators that can be annoying, I’ve noticed that during the college football season, if you watched a game on ESPN and then watched a game on CBS, you’d have two completely different experiences. I always could hear the bands in the background on CBS, but on ESPN, they would have their outside mics set so low that you could barely hear them. Part of a college game is the atmosphere, of which the band is a part of it and adds that extra bit of excitement to the game that you otherwise wouldn’t have during a pro game.

I’m not saying that the commentators should be eliminated from the broadcast altogether, but it would be nice if they would let the pictures do the talking more than they currently do. Considering that on my TV right now is that darn shopping channel selling knives, I wonder if the sport commentators have something to sell, aside from the sport itself? 😈

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