The Difference Between Sports Announcer Commentary for the Ages and Straight Up Irritation – By Alden Lee and Taylor Hall
The world of sports, as unpredictable and endlessly captivating as it is, never seems to run out of great moments for the sports fan. And no matter what degree of sports fandom you boast, certain memories of your favorite athletes, games or teams will be forever etched in your brain and retinas, only a thought away from reliving.
Recap your one of your favorite moments. What do you remember most vividly about it, the action of the athlete or the call of the announcer? Or is it both?
Sometimes great moments are blessed with an equally great sports announcer call that only adds to the moment. Think back to the “Miracle on Ice” and Al Michaels’ question “Do you believe in miracles?” as the clock spiraled down to zeroes, followed by a resounding “Yes!” at the buzzer.
It was a beautiful call, no doubt about it. Simple. Eloquent. Michaels hit the mood right on the head and then let sports fans of multiple generations bask in the awesome glory of what had just happened. There’s a reason that call is one of the most beloved and well-known commentaries in sports history, period.
Just go down the list: “The Play” between Cal and Stanford, Kirk Gibson’s pinch hit homer for the Dodgers, Michael Jordan’s buzzer-beating shot over the Cleveland Cavaliers — all great moments made even more special by the calls that went hand-in-hand with them.
“The band is on the field! The band is still on the field!”
So what makes a great sports announcer or call? Well, it truly depends on the situation and those you ask. Some enjoy hearing an announcer go absolutely berserk when covering one of those moments that may live on forever past the highlight reels. Others say that less is more and that the pictures themselves tell the story better than any words could ever describe — like a certain Orange fellow over here.
Most of us can easily tell when a beautiful play is a beautiful play — we don’t need to rely on a frenzied sportscaster with a bullhorn to tell us so. When something unbelievably amazing is happening, the only thing they’re really there for is to feed into the adrenaline and excitement.
“Oh ohh ahhh ohhh OHHHHH OOOOO OHHH OOOOOOOAAAA I CAN’T BELIEVE IT OMG IT’S A MIRACLE THIS GUY IS A MASTER AMONG MEN THEY’VE DONE THE IMPOSSIBLE NO ONE THOUGHT THEY COULD PULL IT OFF BUT LOOK AT THIS AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!”
That’s not to say the hyperactive announcer can’t be highly entertaining. Florida Panthers hockey announcer Randy Moller screams random movie quotes with each goal, as varied and out-there as “Wedding Crashers,” “American Psycho” and “The Muppets.” There’s nothing quite as hilarious as, “GOOOAAALLL!! WAKA WAKA!”
Scottish soccer commentator Ray Hudson has some of the most inspired and adjective-laden rants to ever grace football match airwaves, routinely proclaiming players to be “heaven-sent,” their goals “magisterial hits.” He seems to have a love affair with Argentina’s Juan Riquelme. One of his greatest calls goes, “Like a Jedi Knight! Nah, even better than that, a Templar Knight! This is a flash of pure inspiration!”
Truth be told, there is no way of putting a finger on what is the right call for a specific moment. The spontaneous, yet sincere route never seems to fail, though, and will always weigh supreme over the false and forced approach some commentators take. And trust me, you will know them when you hear them.
So in the end, you can use all the superlatives you want to describe a moment in sports. Some of them might even really be what the majority feels or believes. But with just about every word in the English dictionary already in use to tell a tale in sports as it unfolds, sometimes it truly is those words left unsaid that make a moment something spectacular.