The Evolution of Communication in Sports

From the days of skillful and insightful anecdotes, we now have communicators with immense technical knowledge of the game.

Updated: May 26, 2020 5:26 PM IST

By Sports Desk

cricket commentators general

By Pranshu Sikka

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In the rapidly changing landscape of sports, it is worth reflecting on how sports communication, or commentary as we know it, has evolved. The role of broadcast media and sports commentators was crucial in shaping not just public perception of a particular sport, but also our love for different games. Sports communication has always been a special kind of conduit – getting fans closer to their favourite games, while adding a dash of beautiful storytelling techniques.There was a time when sports commentary was only reserved for the subject-matter experts.

Which is why, there is always a certain nostalgia associated with seeing Sunil Gavaskar pop up on our screens every now and then. There was nobody like him who could paint a picture with his words on how Virat Kohli played cover drive. And there have been many legendary commentators in Indian cricket. For instance, Tony Greig’s enthusiasm was unparalleled.

Harsha Bhogle and Ian Chappel are some of the best commentators, with the ability to skillfully break down the technical aspects of the game, while keeping everyone hooked with anecdotes. Every commentator brought something unique to the game.Even with the world’s most popular sport, football, we’ve seen a sea of change in the way the game is communicated.

A posh voice from the radio would emanate and describe events on the field, almost in prose. The football commentator has been part of the game for almost a century now, and there have been many legends here, too. For instance, David Coleman, whose career as an effective communicator when it came to football, lasted almost 50 years! His voice was described as being ‘knowledgeable’, and his authoritative presence still looms in the minds of true-blue enthusiasts.

All that has changed now. From the days of skillful and insightful anecdotes, we now have communicators with immense technical knowledge of the game. Technology has definitely taken over some parts of the commentary bit, especially with all the infographics, tables, charts, and 3D models that bombard our screens. More and more tools are being used while covering sports communication.

The broadcast of premier leagues and short-format games have changed sports communication to a certain degree. The relevance and security of sports now hinges on financial security, as much as on the audience’s attention span. With IPL, for example, broadcasters offer the game in six different languages in a bid to tap into a lucrative regional market. While on a premium, English broadcast channel, a program with less advertisements and more in-depth analysis is offered. At a time when many different perspectives compete for audience mind space, it is bound to make sports’ communication evolve with the times.

While it might seem like the end of an era now, sports communication still upholds some of its proud traditions. And so, while the production value of sports communication may have drastically changed, along with bringing in more ‘sell-able’ faces on screen, describing a sportsperson’s craft is still not that easy.

That is why the basic tenets of sports communication are still the same. The only difference is that while communicators are no longer describing what they see on the field [the infographics do that], they still hold sway by adding to that picture with insights that immediately take you right in the centre of all the action.

(The writer is a communication professional. All views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of

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Published Date: May 26, 2020 10:00 AM IST

Updated Date: May 26, 2020 5:26 PM IST