“It’s dawned on me that not only do some sports thrive in silence, but indeed they flourish,” declares the Guardian’s Steven Wells, protesting that “the commentator has become a distraction, an irritant, as parasitic and irrelevant to the actual action as those retina-raping electronic advertising hoardings, yet another symptom of sport’s patronising terror of letting the game actually speak for itself.” Pretty bold words considering they were penned several years after Fran Healy (above) was removed from Mets telecasts.
Could not the commentator’s only useful function, providing information, be entirely supplanted by interactive technology? Want to know the name of a player, or a team’s current league position or any of the mind-numbingly anal-retentive trainspottish bollocks we non-Asbergers-stricken types have rammed down our throats by the nerderatti at every sitting? Go Google. Or press button B.
There are no doubt readers possessed of space age televisions and cable packages that allow the elimination of the commentators while retaining the howler monkey screams of the crowd and the pitiful whining of the players. You lucky, lucky bastards. Come gloat. Mock us with news of the future, tell us how if feels to watch televised sport free of banal gibbering.
‘Tis not for me to say such a feature doesn’t exist, though we’ve seen prior experiments in announcer-free telecasts. That said, I suspect any paradigm-smashing attempt to silence the Joe Morgans and Rick Sutcliffes of the sports TV biz will have an economic motive rather than aesthetic.