Commentators do quite a job.
The action is going on and they have to be sensitive to it and be able to give guidance for the viewer on it. It’s a challenge on all media, but it’s got to be something in particular for the visual medium. Someone does something – the viewer can see what has happened – somehow the commentator has to convey what the viewer can already see in a way that doesn’t make the viewer think, “Well, duh, I can already see that.” Not only that, but as opposed to an analyst or summariser, the commentator has space to have personality, but cannot allow that personality to crowd over the work of that analyst or summariser.
What some of us also may not be aware of, is that in some cases, while you as the viewer take in what you’re seeing, the commentator not only has to convey the action, but has other issues to handle. There might be coming in from other sources – sometimes the summariser, sometimes there’s a voice of the director or producer in giving direction to action outside what the viewer can see. All of this going on in the head and the commentator still has to convey the action and moderate the input on the action in a way that keeps matter engaging for the audience without being too much a part of the action.
It’s a juggling action requiring great skill, great dedication, great discipline and above all great focus.
As with some other roles in life, like a referee or umpire, the job is done well, when no one notices you. When all the focus is on the action and the enjoyment is enhanced with the support of the commentator, the job is done well. Often a comment can be made that etches itself in the mind of those who recall a significant event. That’s a job well done.
There is much to learn from this job that can help in life as a whole. It’s worth bearing that in mind when considering whether you are around to be the main event where the action is, or whether you’re actually just there to provide commentary to something far greater going on.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden