Definitions

Color commentator

Color commentator

[kuhl-er-kas-ter, -kah-ster]
A color commentator, sometimes known as a color analyst, is a member of the broadcasting team for a sporting event who assists the play-by-play announcer by filling in any time when play is not in progress. The term is of North American origin. The color commentator provides expert analysis and background information, such as statistics, strategy and injury reports, on the teams and athletes, and occasionally light humor. Color commentators are often former players or coaches of the sport being broadcasted.

In the United Kingdom the term “co-commentator" is used for the position. As in North America, commentary teams typically feature one professional commentator describing the passage of play, and another, usually an ex-player or manager, providing supplementary input as the game progresses. The co-commentator will usually restrict his input to periods when the ball is out of play or there is no significant action on the pitch and will defer to the main commentator whenever there is a shot on goal or other significant event, sometimes resulting in their being talked-over or cut short by the primary commentator. Additionally, former players and managers appear as pundits, carrying out a similar role to the co-commentator during the build-up to the match, at half-time and at full-time.

In Australia, the term is not used; rather, those giving the analysis alongside the commentator are said to be giving "special comments." In Sweden the term expertkommentator is used for a knowledgeable sidekick to the play-by-play announcer. In Spanish-speaking countries, the position is known as a comentarista, in opposition to the relator who describes the action.

In some countries, the two-person commentating team is not used. In Germany, most broadcast soccer matches feature a single play-by-play announcer, who is expected to provide background information and statistics by himself. Meanwhile, in Brazil, a three-person team is used. For soccer broadcasts, Brazilian television channels usually also use a specialized referee commentator in addition to the normal color commentator (almost always a former player or coach), who is called a comentarista.

Though not always the case, in professional wrestling, the color commentator is usually a "heel sympathizer" (or a supporter of the "bad guys") as opposed to the play-by-play announcer, who is more or less the "voice of the fans" as well as supporters of the "good guys" (or babyfaces). Though both are supposed to show neutral stance while announcing, the color commentator (especially when they support heels) are usually more blatant about their stance than the play-by-play announcer. Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan pioneered the "heel sympathizer" for color commentary in wrestling. Both Jerry "The King" Lawler and JBL later made successful transitions into those roles, though Lawler has since shown more sympathy for faces (partially due to being over with fans after nearly 40 years in wrestling) while JBL has since returned to active wrestling. ECW Commentators, Tazz and Joey Styles tend to be completely neutral; in addition, combine both aspects of play-by-play with color commentary.

Famous color commentators, past and present

American football

Australian rules football

Baseball

Basketball

Boxing

Curling

Gaelic games

Ice hockey

Mixed martial arts

Formula One in the United Kingdom

NASCAR

Poker

Rugby league football (Australia)

Rugby league football (New Zealand)

Rugby league football (United Kingdom)

Rugby union (New Zealand)

Professional Wrestling

Soccer (United Kingdom)

Swimming

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