Sports commentator

In sports broadcasting, a sports commentator (also known as sports announcer, sportscaster or play-by-play announcer) gives a running commentary of a game or event in real time, usually during a live broadcast, traditionally delivered in the historical present tense. Radio was the first medium for sports broadcasts, and radio commentators must describe all aspects of the action to listeners who cannot see it for themselves. In the case of televised sports coverage, commentators are usually presented as a voiceover, with images of the contest shown on viewers' screens and sounds of the action and spectators heard in the background. Television commentators are rarely shown on screen during an event, though some networks choose to feature their announcers on camera either before or after the contest or briefly during breaks in the action.

Eddie Hemmings and Mike Stephenson (27 October 2008)
English commentators Eddie Hemmings and Mike Stephenson

Types of commentators

Main/play-by-play commentator

The main commentator, also called the play-by-play announcer or commentator in North America, blow-by-blow in combat sports coverage or lap-by-lap for motorsports coverage, is the primary speaker on the broadcast. Broadcasters in this role are valued for their articulateness and for their ability to describe each play or event of an often fast-moving sporting event. The ideal play-by-play voice has a vocal timbre that is tolerable to hear over the multiple hours of a sports broadcast and yet dynamic enough to convey and enhance the importance of the in-game activity. Because of their skills, some commentators like Al Michaels in the U.S., David Coleman in the UK and Bruce McAvaney in Australia, may have careers in which they call several different sports at one time or another. Other main commentators may, however, only call one sport (Mike Emrick, for example, is known almost exclusively as an ice hockey broadcaster). The vast majority of play-by-play announcers are male; female play-by-play announcers have not seen sustained employment until the 21st century.

Radio and television play-by-play techniques involve slightly different approaches; radio broadcasts typically require the play-by-play host to say more to verbally convey the on-field activity that cannot be seen by the radio audience. It is unusual to have radio and television broadcasts share the same play-by-play commentator for the same event, except in cases of low production budgets or when a broadcaster is particularly renowned (Rick Jeanneret's hockey telecasts, for example, have been simulcast on radio and television since the late 1990s).

Analyst/color commentator

The analyst or color commentator provides expert analysis and background information, such as statistics, strategy on the teams and athletes, and occasionally anecdotes or light humor. They are usually former athletes or coaches in their respective sports, although there are some exceptions.

The term "color" refers to levity and insight provided by analyst. The most common format for a sports broadcast is to have an analyst/color commentator work alongside the main/play-by-play announcer.[1][2][3] An example is NBC Sunday Night Football in the United States, which is called by color commentator Cris Collinsworth, a former American football receiver, and play-by-play commentator Al Michaels, a professional announcer. In the United Kingdom, however, there is a much less distinct division between play-by-play and color commentary, although two-man commentary teams usually feature an enthusiast with formal journalistic training but little or no competitive experience leading the commentary, and an expert former (or current) competitor following up with analysis or summary. There are however exceptions to this — most of the United Kingdom's leading cricket and snooker commentators are former professionals in their sports, while the former Formula One racing commentator Murray Walker had no formal journalistic training and only limited racing experience of his own. In the United States, George "Pat" Summerall, a former professional kicker, spent most of his broadcasting career as a play-by-play announcer.

Although the combination of a play-by-play announcer and a color commentator is standard as of 2014, in the past it was much more common for a broadcast to have no analysts and just have a single play-by-play announcer to work alone. Vin Scully, longtime announcer for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, was one of the few examples of this practice lasting into the 21st century until he retired in 2016.

Sideline reporter

A sideline reporter assists a sports broadcasting crew with sideline coverage of the playing field or court. The sideline reporter typically makes live updates on injuries and breaking news or conducts player interviews while players are on the field or court because the play-by-play broadcaster and color commentator must remain in their broadcast booth. Sideline reporters are often granted inside information about an important update, such as injury, because they have the credentials necessary to do so. In cases of big events, teams consisting of many sideline reporters are placed strategically so that the main commentator has many sources to turn to (for example some sideline reporters could be stationed in the dressing room area while others could be between the respective team benches). In motorsports, it is typical for there to be multiple pit reporters, covering the event from along pit road. Their responsibilities will include covering breaking news trackside, interviewing crew chiefs and other team leaders about strategy, and commentating on pit stops from along the pit wall. On occasion in motorsport, the reporter on the sideline is an understudy to the lead commentator, as Fox NASCAR has used this tactic numerous times based on the career of Cup lead Mike Joy, a former pit reporter. Those who made the switch included Steve Byrnes (Truck Series, 2014) , Vince Welch (Truck Series since late 2015), and Adam Alexander (did Cup for Fox-produced TNT broadcasts from 2010-14, Xfinity on Fox since 2015) did the same too.

Sports presenter/studio host

In British sports broadcasting, the presenter of a sports broadcast is usually distinct from the commentator, and often based in a remote broadcast television studio away from the sports venue. In North America, the on-air personality based in the studio is called the studio host. During their shows, the presenter/studio host may be joined by additional analysts or pundits, especially when showing highlights of various other matches.

Other roles

Various sports may have different commentator roles to cover situations unique to that sport. American football, for example, regularly employs rules analysts in its broadcasts; usually a former referee, a rules analyst explains penalties and controversial calls and dissects instant replay reviews to predict whether a call will or will not be overturned.


In North American English, sportscaster is a general term for any type of commentator in a sports broadcast. It may also refer to a sports talk show host or a newscaster covering sports news.


In video games, and particularly esports, commentators are often called shoutcasters; this term is derived from the free plugin for Winamp called SHOUTcast, which enabled users to live-stream audio-only feeds across the Internet.[4]

United States

Michael Kay, Paul O'Neill, Ken Singleton in broadcast booth
Michael Kay, Ken Singleton, and Paul O'Neill as the announcers of every New York Yankees game on YES.

While sports broadcasts took place from 1912, Florent Gibson of the Pittsburgh Star newspaper broadcast the first sports commentary in April 1921, covering the fight between Johnny Ray and Johnny "Hutch" Dundee at the Motor Square Garden, Pittsburgh.[5]


In 1975, the National Hockey League (NHL) made headlines when two coaches from the NHL All-Star Game in Montreal allowed Robin Herman and Marcel St. Cyr. access into the men's locker room. Both were believed to have been the first women ever allowed to enter a professional men's locker room to conduct a post-game interview.[6] Sport organizations began to follow in the NHL's footsteps and allowed for other female sportswriters to be given the same access as men sportswriters.[7]

It was not until the year 1977 when Melissa Ludtke, a sportswriter from Sports Illustrated, was given the assignment to cover the New York Yankees playoff series but was denied entry into the men's locker room. Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn and other officials chose to discriminate against her based on her sex. Knowing that this would put Sports Illustrated in a disadvantage from other publishers, Time Inc. and Ludtke filed a lawsuit against Kuhn.[7]

The lawsuit was taken to the United States District Court in 1978 where Judge Constance Baker Motley ruled the act as violating the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The court ruled that the Yankees organization devise a plan to protect the players of their privacy while female sportswriters conducted interviews, suggesting the use of towels.[8]

After the access of allowing women in was put into effect, the Yankees organization allowed reporters to spend ten minutes interviewing players and was then asked to leave and wait. Male reporters were unhappy with this and blamed the women from keeping them out and not being able to do their job. For some men they finally understood what women reporters had been dealing with.[8]

In 1990, the issue made its way back into the headlines when Lisa Olson made a public statement revealing that players from the New England Patriots had exposed themselves while interviews were being conducted. This prompted other female reporters who had been harassed to come forward. Accusations were made that women appeared as being "too friendly" while performing interviews or conversing too long with players as though they were flirting. Their credibility became undermined. Thus, the issue of sexism was still present, despite the equal access to men's locker rooms.[7]

In professional wrestling

JBL, Cole, King
Professional wrestling commentators John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Michael Cole, and Jerry "The King" Lawler

Though not always the case, in professional wrestling, the color commentator is usually a "heel sympathizer" (or a supporter of the "bad guys") as opposed to the play-by-play announcer, who is more or less the "voice of the fans" as well as supporters of the "good guys" (or babyfaces). Though both are supposed to show neutral stance while announcing, the color commentators (especially when they support heels) are usually more blatant about their stance than the play-by-play announcers. Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan pioneered the "heel sympathizer" for color commentary in wrestling. Jerry "The King" Lawler later made a successful transition into the role, though Lawler has since shown more sympathy for faces (partially due to being over with fans after nearly forty years in wrestling). In some cases, commentators are also active managers for wrestlers, usually following continuity as heels. Former Extreme Championship Wrestling color commentator Cyrus was known for having dual roles as a heel manager and a somewhat neutral commentator. Acting as a commentator has also been used to keep injured wrestlers in the public eye while recuperating. Special guest color commentators serve a two purposes: the primary is usually to place them in position to interfere with the match they are calling, the second is to provide promoters with the opportunity to determine if this performer can speak well extemporaneously.

See also


  1. ^ Archived 2014-01-16 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "How to Become a Color Consultant". Career Trend. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2014-02-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Hill, Nathan (December 7, 2017). "The Overwatch Videogame League Aims to Become the New NFL". Wired. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  5. ^ Patterson, Ted (2002). The Golden Voices of Baseball. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 12. ISBN 1-58261-498-9.
  6. ^ "The first woman through the locker room door, 35 years ago".
  7. ^ a b c "This is why female sportswriters can go in men's locker rooms".
  8. ^ a b "Suit won entry to locker room".

External links

The dictionary definition of sportscaster at Wiktionary

  • Sportcaster Chronicles – Internet radio show in which John Lewis interviews leading American sports announcers.
Bill Weber

William "Bill" Weber (born May 8, 1957) is a former television sports commentator best known for his work on TNT and NBC NASCAR broadcasts. Weber was also the lead announcer for Champ Car World Series events and other auto racing series on NBC. He currently is working as an illusionist in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Bob Wischusen

Robert Wischusen (born October 1, 1971) is an American sports commentator who is currently a college football and basketball voice for ESPN and the radio voice announcer for the New York Jets on WEPN-FM.

Cláudio Duarte

Cláudio Roberto Pires Duarte (born March 15, 1950, in São Jerônimo) is a former Brazilian footballer and coach.

Cláudio Duarte is a Sports commentator at RBS TV.

He previously managed Juventude, Grêmio, Remo, Gama and Internacional among others.

Color commentator

A color commentator or expert commentator is a sports commentator who assists the play-by-play commentator, typically by filling in when play is not in progress. The phrase "color commentator" is primarily used in American English; the person may be referred to as a summariser (outside North America) or analyst (a term used throughout the English-speaking world). The color analyst and main commentator will often exchange comments freely throughout the broadcast, when the main commentator is not describing the action. The color commentator provides expert analysis and background information, such as statistics, strategy, and injury reports on the teams and athletes, and occasionally anecdotes or light humor. Color commentators are often former athletes or coaches of the sport being broadcast.The term color refers to levity and insight provided by a secondary announcer. A sports color commentator customarily works alongside the play-by-play broadcaster.


A commentator is a person who comments or expresses an opinion on a subject.

Commentator or commentators may refer to:

Commentator (historical) or Postglossator, a member of a European legal school which arose in France in the fourteenth century

Commentator (horse) (foaled March 27, 2001), American Thoroughbred racehorse

The Commentator, Ibn Rushd or Averroes (1126-1198), an Andalusian philosopher

"The Commentators", a 1985 UK parody single by the impressionist Rory Bremner

The Commentator, a political news and comment website published by Robin Shepherd

Oregon Commentator, formerly a student publication at the University of Oregon

Sports commentator, someone who gives a running commentary of a sports game or event

Color commentator, an expert who provides analysis and background information during a sports event

Pundit, one who offers to mass media their opinion or commentary on a particular subject area

Someone who offers biblical commentaries

Someone who wrote commentaries on Aristotle

Dave Rowe (American football)

David Homeyer "Dave" Rowe (born June 20, 1945 in Neptune City, New Jersey) is a former American football defensive tackle in the NFL and sports commentator.

David Coleman

David Robert Coleman OBE (26 April 1926 – 21 December 2013) was a British sports commentator and TV presenter who worked for the BBC for 46 years. He covered eleven Summer Olympic Games from 1960 to 2000 and six football World Cups.Coleman presented some of the BBC's leading sporting programmes, including Grandstand and Sportsnight, and was the host of A Question of Sport for 18 years. He retired from the BBC in 2000. Later that year he became the first broadcaster to receive the Olympic Order award, in recognition of his contribution to the Olympic movement.

Derek Thompson (sports commentator)

Derek Thompson (born 31 July 1950 in Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire) is a presenter and commentator of horse racing on Radio Five Live and At the Races in Britain.

Ed Cunningham

Ed Cunningham (born August 17, 1969) is an American sports announcer, film producer, and former professional American football player.

Following his career in the National Football League, Cunningham worked as an commentator for different media outlets, most recently ESPN. In 2017 he resigned citing his personal concerns with safety risks posed by the sport of football.

Fred De Bruyne

Alfred De Bruyne (21 October 1930 – 4 February 1994) was a Belgian champion cyclist.

He won Milan–San Remo and Liège–Bastogne–Liège in 1956, the Tour of Flanders, Paris–Roubaix and Paris–Tours in 1957, and again Liège–Bastogne–Liège in 1958 and 1959.

He also won the Challenge Desgrange-Colombo competition 3 years running (1956 to 1958). This was the fore-runner of the Super Prestige now in itself replaced by the UCI Ranking Points List.

After his professional cycling career he went on to become a very popular TV sports commentator, a team manager, and finally a spokesman for the Panasonic cycling team.

Jasdev Singh

Jasdev Singh (1930/31 – 25 September 2018) was an Indian sports commentator. He was awarded Padma Shri in 1985 and Padma Bhushan in 2008. He died on 25 September 2018. He was also an official commentator on Independence Day, and Republic Day parade broadcasts from 1963 for state-run media, Doordarshan and also All India Radio. He joined All Indian Radio Jaipur in 1955, and moved to Delhi eight years, thereafter he joined Doordarshan, where he worked for over 35 years.Over the years, he had covered nine Olympics, eight hockey World Cups and six Asian Games, and was awarded the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic movement, by Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC president.

Jimmy Snyder (sports commentator)

James George Snyder Sr. (born Dimetrios Georgios Synodinos, September 9, 1918 – April 21, 1996), better known as Jimmy the Greek, was an American sports commentator and Las Vegas bookmaker.

Jordan Rodgers

Jordan Edward Rodgers (born August 30, 1988) is an American sports commentator and former college and professional American football quarterback. Rodgers signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in 2013, and also played on practice and preseason squads for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins, as well as the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League. He is the brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Karl Petter Løken

Karl Petter "Kalle" Løken (born Karl Petter Löken, 14 August 1966 in Karlskoga, Sweden) is a Norwegian businessman and former football player. He is set to become the CEO of Kværner during the spring 2018.Løken played 243 matches in Norwegian Premier League, most of them for Rosenborg, Trondheim, earning seven league titles and four cup championships. Løken was capped 36 times for Norway national football team. Løken is a master of engineering and is currently also working part-time as sports commentator for Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.

Lewis Johnson

Lewis Johnson is an American sports commentator and sports reporter. He is one of the few sports broadcasters to have worked for ABC, NBC and CBS. He has also worked for Westwood One, ESPN, the Pac-12 Network and Turner Sports.

Lewis is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. The 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) Lewis placed 8th in the 800 meters at the 1987 NCAA Championships with his personal record of 1:47.00.

Mia Khalifa

Mia Khalifa (Arabic: ميا خليفة‎; born February 10, 1993), also known as Mia Callista, is a Lebanese-American social media personality, sports commentator and webcam model, best known for having been a pornographic actress from 2014 to 2015.Born in Beirut, Khalifa moved to the United States in 2001. She began acting in pornography in October 2014, and by December was ranked the most viewed performer on the website Pornhub. Her career choice was met with controversy in the Middle East, especially for a video in which she performed sexual acts while wearing the Islamic hijab. After three months, Khalifa left the pornographic industry to pursue other interests.

OTO Award for TV Sports Commentator

OTO Award for TV Sports Commentator has been awarded since the second edition of the accolades, established by Art Production Agency (APA) in Slovakia in 2000. Each year, the award has been presented to the most recognized television sportcasters of the past year with the ceremony permitted live by the national television network STV.

Pat O'Brien (radio and television personality)

Patrick John "Pat" O'Brien (born February 14, 1948) is an American author and radio host, best known for his work as a sportscaster with CBS Sports from 1981 to 1997, as well as his work as the anchor and host of Access Hollywood from 1997 to 2004, and The Insider from 2004 to 2008.

O'Brien covered six Olympic Games, two for CBS (1992 Winter and 1994) and four for NBC (2000, 2002, 2004 and 2012). He has also covered the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and Final Four as a pregame host while at CBS.

He wrote the book Talkin' Sports: A B.S.-er's Guide, published in 1998, and released an autobiography, I'll Be Back Right After This, in 2014.

The Joe Rogan Experience

The Joe Rogan Experience is a free audio and video podcast hosted by American comedian, actor, sports commentator, martial artist and television host Joe Rogan. It was launched on December 24, 2009 by Rogan and comedian Brian Redban who also produced and co-hosted. It has grown to become one of the world's most popular podcasts, regularly receiving millions of views per episode, and includes a wide array of guests.


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