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Sports Commentary: Carlton Kirby-The Challenges, Criticism And Aesthetic

Each game has a different time frame but have you ever wondered what really weaves the game altogether? It is the commentary that makes any game fulfilling and whole. But What makes it more challenging? What makes it appear as a wholesome element of the game? In this article, we will bring you challenges, the criticism and the aesthetic appeal of the composition of commentary.

Where Does The Challenge Lie?

Carlton Kirby who was the principal commentator for Eurosport’s cycling coverage, as he worked in the field of the sport since 1996 comments on the aesthetics, challenges and criticism that comes with the game. Each game has its own time frame. A football match continues for 90 minutes whereas the basketball tournament lasts just 48 minutes.

Even the single stage of the Tour de France could stretch up to six hours. The shortest amount of time recorded to finish the game was three hours. It was done by Thibaut Pinot. It doesn’t matter how much the duration is, filling all the cracks with justified and legitimate facts and figures using the commentary is what keeps the viewers in the stadium hooked to the game but it is also the same thing that makes the commentary very challenging.

“Commentating on cycling is not like snooker or tennis,” tells Carlton Kirby. He further adds ” In tennis, you never talk through a point because the crowd don’t. In certain sports, you have to respect the action, and then you comment on it. That makes for a really easy job, as far as I’m concerned. There are some other sports, like cycling, where the commentary has to be complete. There are no gaps – you might shut up for five seconds or so to listen to the crowd, but that’s it.”

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Most of the time focusing on the matter at hand, what is happening in the game so as to connect it with the commentary is not only mentally draining but takes artistic mettle as the question of engagement is raised. He professes “quite often you are talking while being handed a note, being spoken to by the director, and listening to race radio at the same time as well. There’s an awful lot of distractions to keep on top of, so if you happen to be looking at your notes when somebody has a moment and you don’t see it, it’s not your fault”

The challenge of the commentary lies in the fact that in order to retain the attention of the viewers on the game even when the brakes continue is not only tough but requires practice, knowledge and experience.

So, What Went Wrong?

To make the game more interesting and on point so that important information doesn’t go amiss is something that has to be practised with immense expertise and the application of knowledge. However many members of the group consisting in the athletic department want the removal Carlton Kirby claiming his aesthetics pleasing of commentary as nothing but a form of gimmicks that thrives on ‘unnecessary screaming’ and ‘terrible inputs of jokes’.  

Carlton Kirby comments on the claimant’s statement ” It’s not like the written press where you can write something out and finesse it and shave it, I don’t have that gift. Once I’ve said something, a couple of hours later it’s hitting Saturn. It’s gone, it’s irretrievable. There is no editing process, except between the brain and the larynx. Once it’s out there you’re done, so you’ll just have to forgive me if I make the odd gaffe”. Many fans have come to his support and encouragement as they find the lauded commentary a sign of perfection.

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So, How Should A Piece Of Commentary Be Presented?

It is said that there are chances of Kirby and his team to head across the channel for the occasion of Tour de France to cover the 2020 issue from the Eurosport studios situated in London. The on-site situation would help him take notes but improvising it so that it can reach an optimum height of finesse is something that persists to linger in the mind of many.

He comments “When you’re on-site, you get up in the morning, you feel the atmosphere, you get the buzz. Breakfast is all about what was said off-camera, picking each other’s brains. All the other commentators from all the other nations and all their information are in the same room, so you often get people saying: ‘Have you heard this?’, with loads of things to share. Info-wise, being on-site is amazing.”

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Only knowledge based on the encyclopedia will not yield an engaging reaction from the viewers. He states further “If anyone starts giving you any palmarès, they’re not commentating, they’re reading off a list. I could sit there and start giving you stats, I could start giving you tech. Stats and tech are the stock-in-trade of the uninformed. You’ll get an awful lot of history coming out, which is completely useless as far as I’m concerned, for the entertainment value of the day.”

At the end of the day, no one is really basking on the stats of the game but the approach and the aesthetic appeal of the commentary as to how it was presented. Because nobody really cares about the “some guy didn’t win when he raced seven years ago for Skil-Shimano”.

It is the “chateau that is going by to make the day move along” that will capture the attention of the viewers.