Diary of a commentator

The ELF Championship Game is coming up on Sunday...and I've been doing my first ever Reddit AMA, over on the ELF subreddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/elf/comments/xih1fj/ama_im_commentating_on_the_elf_championship_game/

It's been fun. Sparsely attended, but fun. And in a possibly related story, I just got a Facebook friend request from the Rhein Fire's starting quarterback (who started for Hamburg in last year's title game). Never had any athlete reach out to me before like that...I don't know what to do with my hands.
 
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr5QKSOWQWc

I called the ELF Championship Game today, despite feeling poorly and being very worried last night - based upon how my son felt and sounded during his two days off from school this past week - that I'd sound like Cris Collinsworth did in that SNF game the other week. I slept late (skipping church) and have spent much of my evening lying down as well, but in between I managed to pull myself together and sounded pretty normal, I think. We had a technical glitch in the transmission which was a huge boon to me as well: the feed from the stadium in Klagenfurt (Austria) didn't connect with us until only 5 minutes remained before the opening kickoff, whereas I was supposed to start introducing the game 15 minutes before kickoff as normal. So I didn't have to speak for those 10 extra minutes in a row, which definitely helped me get up and running.

Anyway, 11-2 Vienna quite comfortably defeated 12-1 Hamburg by the score of 27-15, so that's two straight Championship Games the Sea Devils have now lost. I enjoyed the game and will miss not calling any more football the rest of the year, but I'm equally happy to have had a quiet rest of the day. And I'm now off until the CHL resumes a week on Tuesday.
 
The CHL resumes tonight...and I won't be commentating. Sparta Prague's charter flight to Finland had a technical defect, so their game at Jukurit won't be going ahead as scheduled. I'd already scripted all of my introductory material and researched a number of extra players in Sparta's squad - their teamsheet for today had already been made available to me, and they'd put no fewer than 10 players age 21 or under in their lineup, about half of whom I'd not prepared for - but it looks like all of that might go to waste. (I don't know if I'll even get paid for what I've done so far; hopefully it'll be rescheduled for early enough tomorrow that I can call both Jukurit v Sparta and Red Bull Salzburg v Fribourg-Gotteron, but that seems unlikely.)
 
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JIoi3DrTe8

Last night's match was so forgettable - "One for the purists," I began my highlight voiceover - that I forgot to write about it straightaway after the fact. Fribourg-Gotteron defeated Red Bull Salzburg 1-0 in a match of few real chances; it was almost soccer-like, really. Going into the final day of the Group Stage next week, 15 of the 16 places in the Knockout Stage have already been filled; I'm lucky that the last spot up for grabs is being contested in part by Red Bull Salzburg, so I'll at least have one live game to be calling, but although there are a couple of other groups where first place (and better seeding) is up for grabs, it's going to be a pretty dull final week.

We did hire an Englishman to call a couple of games this week. Tim does Euroleague Basketball and works for MUTV ("MU" = Manchester United) among his other duties, so he's a very seasoned commentator, and he does follow hockey here in the UK...but these were the first two hockey games he'd ever called, and after his first game I told him that I thought he'd sounded more like he was calling a soccer match than a hockey game. I'd actually be interested in everyone's thoughts about the feedback I gave to Tim - I spoke to him about this having first prepared the following email, which I used as my hotes for the call:
With regard to [the perception that you sounded like you were calling a soccer match rather than a hockey game], I’m not entirely sure this is even a criticism, and I’ve talked with a couple of our producers at Infront to try and get their take on this, because I’m not sure about the extent to which I’m unfairly biased about all of this. But my thought process is that outside of the UK – and to a certain extent even within the UK – most hockey watchers will primarily have the North American style of ice hockey commentary in their head, mainly from the NHL but also from other international competitions staffed by North American commentators. The North American hockey commentary style tends to sound somewhat radio-like, in that a) players are identified more regularly as new people touch or get close to the puck, and b) a real sign of commentator quality (for me at least) is the artfulness used to describe certain passages of play whose equivalents might go unremarked upon at all in a televised football match. Also, North American-style goal calls in hockey tend to include a “He scores!” exclamation or the equivalent, whereas football goals can often be much more muted. I’ve thought about this point a lot over the years and come to the conclusion that in football, goals usually don’t come out of nowhere – the build-up is typically transparent, and you can often feel a goal coming before the ball goes in the net – whereas in hockey, slapshots which go into the net often look exactly the same as ones which are saved or miss the target right up to the point that they go in. And even when they don’t, passing moves in hockey are often much, much faster to develop than they are in football. So there’s an element of surprise in hockey goals which merits a more exclamatory goal call.

We’ve not yet reached a consensus on whether having a British-accented, football-style commentator is a potential distraction, or possibly even a nice change of pace from normal North American commentators. But I think it would be helpful for us to hear you attempt to use a somewhat more North American style in commentary this evening (on Slovan vs. Rapperswil) – sounding a bit more excited on the goal calls and other excitable incidents, and being a bit more descriptive when possible and where appropriate. I suspect that may take you somewhat out of your comfort zone, but don’t worry about that; I’m confident enough in your core ability in the more British/football-like style that you can think of tonight as an experiment. Does that make sense?
Any thoughts, particularly regarding the passage I've highlighted in red? It was certainly rather interesting for me to think through all of this and spell this out to Tim. (I haven't listened to his call of last night's game yet, but he seemed quite receptive to what I was saying; he responded by saying how it basically took him 10 years to get him to where he was comfortable blending his British background and accent into calling basketball games in a way he was comfortable with, so it's hardly surprising that he'll take some time to figure out where he's going with hockey.) And it's also instructive for me to think about being on the other side of this, where I was told by DAZN that I'm not employable as a soccer commentator for a Canadian audience which strongly prefers British and Irish accents to American ones.
 
Crickets in here, I guess...still:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6xyHR3t734

An utterly meaningless but quite fun game to call tonight, with Jukurit defeating Sparta Prague 6-3. Sparta led 1-0 and 2-1, but the game turned in the second period when Nikita Krivokrasov - a wonderful name to pronounce, and I remember his father from his time with the Chicago Blackhawks (and Pat Foley's delight in pronouncing his name) - was on the receiving end of vicious hit that appeared to leave him concussed and got the offending player a 5-minute major and game misconduct penalty. Jukurit scored twice on the resultant power play, and they cruised home from there.

Also, the CHL Knockout Stage Draw is coming up on Thursday, and I was asked by my one of my producers in Switzerland to help re-script that. That went well and will have earned me a little extra coin, which is always nice.
 

GreenMonster49

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
554
Alas, neither the crickets nor I can watch the video. (All we see is the message that the "uploaded has not made this video available in your country.")
 
FWIW, I'm officially bringing this thread to a close, as I'm stepping away from SoSH for the foreseeable future. To be honest, even if I weren't, I feel like this journal has become rather repetitive and somewhat narcissistic - do people really want to read about yet another hockey or football game in leagues that have no relevance to them? - and as such it's probably a good time to call it quits. But it has been a joy and a privilege to share my commentary journey over the last few years with everyone, and the encouragement I've received from so many of you really has been greatly appreciated.
 

StupendousMan

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
1,728
Thanks very much for giving me an inside look into the business of sports commentary! I hope that I'll hear you in the next Olympics :)
 

Lose Remerswaal

Experiencing Furry Panic
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
I will miss this thread (and you). The "Inside Baseball" posts about the Olympics and similar and about the ways and whys commentators get selected were always fascinating to me. And watching something on TV and saying "hey, I know that guy" was always pretty cool to me.

Just take a look at the "views" and you'll see how popular the thread is
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
17,380
Pittsburgh, PA
Likewise, was always a huge fan. Sorry to hear that this thread is rounding third and heading for home. Hope that big break with the NFL is coming soon!