If the question is to me, the answer is always ‘talk’! I know, I need to tone it down every once in a while just to show that I have that side of my personality too, but it is very tough to resist the temptation to talk! While this *might* be ok in a social setting, taking up ‘talking’ as a profession should warrant a wee bit more thought into the question. Sunday night as I sat there watching the South African cricket team thrash the Indian team in the deciding ODI, it wasn’t the performance of the cricketers that irked me the most but the commentators! Why did all these ex-cricketers become commentators?
From their perspective, they were offered money to travel to all match venues and talk – so why shouldn’t they? Thinking in business terms, it’s the equivalent of a showing my business experience to become a news anchor – my subject matter expertise might be useful but it’s not enough to host a TV show. The same is true for sports commentary because it is much more about engaging the audience in a conversation that just talking about what’s happening on-screen, which by the way I can see already. So why is it this way?
Because there is a monopoly on the content and hence the absence of choice for me, the viewer. In this context, nobody has the time and incentive to improve the commentary. The only choices for the viewer are the mute button, a different sport (which in India almost doesn’t exist) or no sport. If the third option were real, I think broadcasters will work harder on better quality commentary – but we all know that in India it is unlikely that we will walk away from cricket (at least in the near term).
This is yet another area that I believe technology can help. With interactive viewing options becoming more common, it is possible (and I hope will become increasingly common) to let viewers choose whose commentary they want to hear (or indeed none) while a match is in progress. Commentators will then have to earn the right to be heard. And hopefully ex-cricketers will spend more time developing sport in the country instead of being lured by commentary contracts.