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Title: Play-by-play  
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In sports broadcasting, a commentator gives a running commentary of a game or event in real time, usually during a live broadcast. The comments are normally a voiceover, with the sounds of the action and spectators also heard in the background. In the case of television commentary, the commentator is on screen rarely if at all. In North American English, other general terms for a commentator are announcer and sportscaster. ("Sportscaster" may also refer to a newscaster covering sports news.) In British 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. Often, the main commentator (called a play-by-play announcer in North America) is assisted by a color commentator, and sometimes a sideline reporter. In case of big events, teams consisting of many sideline reporters are placed strategically so that the color commentator has many sources to turn to, for example some sideline reporters could be in the dressing room area while others could be between the respective team benches.

Types of sports broadcasters

Play-by-play announcers are the primary speakers, valued for their articulateness and for their ability to describe the events of an often fast-moving sporting event. Color commentators are valued for experience and insight into the game, and are often asked questions by the play-by-play announcer to give them a topic for analysis. Color commentators most often have gained their experience in the sport as a player and/or coach, while play-by-play announcers are more likely to be a professional broadcast journalist than a participant in the sport, although there are numerous exceptions to these general trends.

The most common format for a sports television broadcast is to have one of each type. An example is NBC Sunday Night Football in the United States, which is called by Cris Collinsworth, a former American football receiver, and 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 - all of the United Kingdom's major cricket and snooker commentators are former professionals in their sports, while the legendary Formula One racing commentator Murray Walker had no formal journalistic training and only limited racing experience of his own.

Another difference between the two types is that color commentators will generally announce only a sport in which they played or coached, while play-by-play announcers, such as Michaels and David Coleman in the UK, may have careers in which they call several different sports at one time or another. However, Brad Daugherty, a former professional basketball player, appears as of 2012 on coverage of NASCAR auto racing on ESPN.

Although the combination of a play-by-play announcer and one or more color commentators is standard as of 2012, in the past it was much more common for a play-by-play announcer to work alone. Vin Scully, longtime announcer for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, is one of few examples of this practice still existing today.

United States

While there were sports broadcasts from 1912, the first sports commentary was broadcast in April 1921 by Florent Gibson of the Pittsburg Star newspaper covering the fight between Johnny Ray and Johnny "Hutch" Dundee at the Motor Square Garden, Pittsburgh.[1]

In the United States, nearly all professional sports teams, most collegiate teams — as well as a dwindling number of high schools — have their own sports commentators, who are usually recognized as the voice of the team on radio broadcasts and are often identified as part of the team like the players or the coaches. In addition, television networks and cable channels will have their own stable of play-by-play announcers that work with various teams like Michael Kay from YES's New York Yankees baseball network, and Mike Breen for New York Knicks basketball on MSG. And Martin announces Chester from Chester Network

Women are now integrated into sportscasting. In the late 1970s and into the 1980s, broadcasters like Anne Doyle pioneered the entry of women into all aspects of sports coverage.[2] A breakthrough came in 1978, when a federal court ruled that a female reporter must be allowed into a Major League Baseball locker room.[3]

See also


External links

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