ALTHOUGH SOME may deem the resumption of sport without fans not ideal but necessary, much responsibility is now being placed on commentators to aid the reigniting and gradual reintroduction of sports entertainment to deprived viewers and listeners.
The German Bundesliga made a welcome return to the sporting circuit on Saturday and matches were played behind closed doors to prevent the spread of the covid19 pandemic. Commentary though, was not fuelled by chanting fans and the usual thousands of spectators who cheer on their teams and transform the competitive atmosphere.
In the Caribbean, sport is yet to resume due to governments’ careful lift on restrictions for public gatherings. When given the all-clear, it is expected that spectators would also be prohibited to enter stadia until countries ascertain some form of control to prevent further spread of coronavirus.
Annual local tournaments such as the TT Pro League, TT Super League, National Cricket League and major regional competitions such as the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) have either been rescheduled or cancelled due to the global pandemic.
During the early stages of Government’s implementation of stay at home measures, CPL televised a series of classic matches with new ‘live’ commentary from top-flight commentators such as Ian Bishop, Daren Ganga, Danny Morrison, Tom Moody and Alex Jordan.
The commentators were not told which game they would be watching so they could react to the action as if it was live. This twist was enjoyed by fans around the world and deemed a success.
With regards to resumption of sport locally, acting TT Pro League chairman Brent Sancho welcomed matches being played without spectators. However, he admitted the live commentary, whether via television or radio, must include added flair to ensure fans capture the full experience.
Sancho, who also served as a football commentator at SportsMax explained, “Quality commentary is extremely important. Both television and radio commentary are very different. In radio, you have to be more descriptive because your listeners are unable to see. But with television, you have to tell the viewers what they can’t see. It’s important to give the viewer stories and information that they’re not seeing to enhance the viewership.”
He believes though, that players would be most affected since they feed off the atmosphere created by fans.
“Home advantage would not be the same. This is an important component and atmosphere from a commentary perspective. I think they have to maybe, for the viewers create more of an impact when they are commenting. Sports fans will welcome the return. Not being able to see it live and depending on commentary will also be integral.”
Additionally, former TT and West Indies youth cricketer Colin Murray shared similar sentiments and believes descriptive commentary plays a crucial role for sports fans globally. He also agreed it would be difficult for both commentators and spectators alike.
“Whether covid19 or not, commentary is significant. With radio, you become the eyes of that person. You have to describe everything for them. Commentary shapes the game. You have to transfer that to the listener from the radio. From a television perspective, you’re dealing with a more technical aspect of it,” he said.
Murray accepts there are many changes to come for sport to attain total resumption. He thinks sports fans will find creative ways and means of keeping up to date with their favourite teams.
Murray added, “The stands are empty but that could also mean there are more people at home watching it on television and listening via the radio, and this is where detailed commentary is key. It will be a whole different ball game.
“Commentators also get the adrenaline and feed off spectators as well. Players and commentators need to motivate themselves to give a proper professional commentary that’s lively and makes the listener/viewer excited as well.”