A rebuttal to those who say British commentators “don’t talk too much”

[ame=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXVGb1EX7LI”%5DYouTube- WC 1990 Deutschland v England 01/16[/ame]

Since my initial post about ESPN all-Euro World Cup announcer lineup, one of the arguments I’ve heard over-and-over again is that American commentators “talk too much” and that British commentators don’t.

To that I give you the BBC’s legendary commentator John Motson. No one in the history of soccer commentating yammers on more than he does. Take a look at the BBC’s commentary of England v. Germany at Italy 90 below and tell me that Motson doesn’t talk too much. He talks perpetually. He talks non-stop. Only the anthems interrupt his constant chatter and even during the 10 seconds between the two anthems, he jams in a note about the capacity of the stadium. It takes a full nine minutes in this clip before you even hear a peep out of his color guy.

He also is a legendary stathead, another complaint one often hears about American commentators.

But of course, Motson has an accent, so that makes him far, far better than any of our commentators. Right?

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24 thoughts on “A rebuttal to those who say British commentators “don’t talk too much”

  1. “But of course, Motson has an accent, so that makes him far, far better than any of our commentators. Right?”

    Damn Right! Also, he uses a more traditional (ie British) vocabulary, as opposed to the more douche-y language some American commentators have.

  2. Er, pointing out that one English commentator talks too much proves what, exactly? The general point is still true. Most American commentators feel compelled to fill every moment of airtime with their blathering.

    Also, this has nothing to do with an accent. I would take JP over many of the commentators I hear doing EPL matches, but I’m quite happy with the ones we’ll have this summer.

    My pet peeve, btw, is the people who insist upon using English terms (I’m looking at you, Christian “Poser” Miles) How many Americans say stuff like “XYZ are on the front foot” (notice the English ‘are’) or “Team ABC are really under the cosh.” My favorite phrase – the one that makes me want to throw my remote through the TV – is “he does ever so well.” Who the hell says that in this country? How does he continue to get steady work?

    Sorry, back to the topic. I want expertise and reserve in my commentators more than anything else. A few Americans have them, but most don’t have either quality. Of the two, I think expertise is more important. There are several matches a year where I honestly doubt whether the commentator has ever watched a soccer game before. People like Miles and Feldman come to mind immediately.

    So no, I have no desire to see some sort of ‘Buy American’ campaign when it comes to announcers. My response is similar to the one I give to people making bad American cars and appealing to patriotism to sell them. “Make a better car (announcer) and I’ll buy it.”

  3. Speaking of commentators. Two weeks ago I’m watching ESPNNEWS and what the hell?! Max Bretos is on ESPNNEWS now?! I know he’s not in the discussion here, but can you gents fill me in on when this happened? (Honestly, I don’t have a TV in the town I work in. I only get home for the weekends, which I dedicate 99% of that time to my wife and kids. The other 1% – FSC and ESPN). Thanks guys!

  4. Well, it makes sense. You wouldn’t say, “New York are on the front foot,” but you would say, “The Red Bulls are on the front foot.” Club names in England are constructed as plural, so, “Arsenal are on the front foot” makes sense.

    The rest of your comment though – absolutely agree.

  5. Sigh. In my mind, this has never been about English v. American. I’d take JP over John Motson in a second. Motson is awful. But I take Martyn Tyler over JP, because I’ve thought, for well on 16 or 17 years, that Martyn Tyler does the game better than anybody else – going back to when I was in grad school in Calgary and TSN on Saturday mornings would show 30-minute editions of games from the previous week, and intersperse halftime and final scores.

  6. I can see that argument–except that when you’re scouring Old Blighty for the #2 team as well, it sends a definite message.

  7. this is rubbish. so you cherry picked a guy who was annoying in a broadcast 20 years ago. that doesn’t sway my opinion that most british broadcasters are better than the americans. all this blog proves is that this guy was as lousy as most american announcers are today.

    making this argument would be like toyota coming out and defending their latest safety issues by pointing out how crappy ford’s pinto was. ok and thanks but it doesn’t change the fact that the current product sucks, so fix it or the consumer will go elsewhere. simple as

  8. We are grateful. However, he is not doing all 64 games, and many of us wonder why it is necessary to kick all the Americans off the games that he isn’t doing.

  9. The problem I have with it is that we’re now going to be the road team on our own @#$%ing broadcast. Bad enough to listen to the Anglophiles on here, now we have to listen to it on ESPN? I’m going to have to do something when it comes to the USA-England game, because if the USA wins, I want someone whooping it up. Hell, I would take Jack and Ty for that game, I don’t give a crap how wonderful of an announcer he is.

  10. Motson is considered legendary only in his own mind. His popularity never reaches that of Martin Tyler and is completely overshadowed by contemporaries Brian Moore and Barry Davies.

    Remember 2001 in Berlin………..”this just keeps getting better and better and better !!!!

    What a clown………………

  11. Is John Motson doing any broadcasts for ESPN this summer? If not, I could care less about what he did in 1990. I could also care less about accents.

    The question is: Is JP or any other American broadcast play by play guy that is available for the Cup better than the 4 guys selected by ESPN? It seems the only two that can make the conversation are JP and Glenn Davis. So, are either of them better?

  12. Sincere question to follow. Would there be an exception when talking about the national team…to pick an example entirely at random, “England is/are placing all their World Cup hopes on the back of Rooney”…”is” if referencing the country, “are” if in reference to the national team?

  13. No, I understand completely the differing use of the singular and plural to describe teams. I’m just questioning why someone not English would use that construction for an American audience.

    My answer is that he thinks it gives him some credibility. I think it just makes him look like a clueless poser.

  14. This isn’t even cherrypicking– it has nothing to do whether American or British commentators spend too much time talking during matches since it’s, you know, the vast majority of it is not match commentary. It’s setting the stage before the game. No tv sports production shuts up during the run-up to a match and let’s the pictures do the talking.

    Once the game starts, there is certainly not much extraneous talking and the fact that it takes two minutes for the other member of the announcing team to talk instead of feel the need to comment on every event (and there were some real events there), if anything, supports the idea these guys don’t talk that much.

  15. This isn’t a matter that SOME English announcers are yappers, or pontificators, or just plain motor mouths–the story here is that ESPN has decided:
    1. American soccer fans will not accept the legitimacy of American announcers
    2. We don’t have a single American announcer capable of being taken seriously as an announcer
    3. A british accent is required in order to cover football
    4. JP Dellacamra hasn’t sucked off the right ESPN execs, not given enough reach arounds at the ESPN offices to earn a TV announcing spot.
    5. Harkes did blow all the right people, and though an inferior announcer than JP, will represent his country as the soul US TV announcer… (PS Harkes also did his interview with the execs with an English accent, and reminded them he “played in England”)…

  16. John Motson is seen as a bit of a joke in jolly England. Hes a bit like a senile relative well past his best but you havent the heart to tell him.

    I find him very irritating and although he know his stats his knowledge of football is actually quite poor. He always sees the action in the wrong light eg Shouting for penalties which are clean tackles, getting excited when he hasnt heard the whistle for offside.

    My faves at moment are Guy Mowbray and Martin Tylers ok but I cant stand his sidekick Andy “I know EVERYTHING Gray”.

  17. it’s the intro of course he talks. the only people concerned about an accent are xenophobes and there are plenty in america that hate foriegners just like everywhere else. That applies to this writer too.

    and even if this was bad which it isn’t just cause you can find one example of bad announcing doesn’t make it all bad. unfortunately, almost all amercian announcers are bad.

    hilarious. he’s talking to much? setting the scene, silent during the anthems, and describing the lineups. There is nothing wrong with this commentary and if an American had done it nobody would complain either. An utterly stupid post.

  18. Anyone who criticizes those involved in any sport (whether as commentator, reporter, coach, management, player, or fan) for being a “stathead” is a complete idiot and best ignored.

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