Fritz Huber, writing for The Paris Review, on the sorry state of US televised sports commentary:
After a prolonged TV spectacle like college football’s Bowl Week (whose contests last year included the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and the Taxslayer.com Bowl, the latter being only a slight improvement on the all-time most absurd Galleryfurniture.com Bowl), watching English Premiership matches or Six Nations rugby on BBC feels like a cultural upgrade. There’s less advertising. There’s less analysis of bullshit statistics (“Headed into this matchup, the Kentucky Wildcats are 11-3 in games played within four days of their coach’s annual colonoscopy”). And, on British television, the commentators’ linguistic repertoires don’t feel as inhibited; there’s more room for an occasional flourish. Why can’t we have a color analyst like Ray Hudson, who, in his exuberance, will announce that we’ve just witnessed “a Bernini sculpture of a goal,” or claim that watching Lionel Messi “softens the hard corners of our lives”?
I the 90s I used to switch off the audio on the TV and turn radio on for commentary specifically Umhlobo Wenene and listen to Mathiso. Ditto for rugby and boxing. The reason was simple South African TV commentators suck. No imagination, no passion. I was reminded of this in the last couple matches I have watched on TV. The commentary is shocking, repetitive and BORING! But now I cannot just turn on radio as my kids while multi lingual do not know isiXhosa deep enough, so we are stuck on English commentary on TV. Then I saw the piece above and realised we are not alone.