The Role of the Color Commentator in Modern Sportscasting

Don Criqui announces the play-by-play action for radio broadcasts of the football games of his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. He announced the television broadcast games of the National Football League continuously from 1967 until 2012. This 46-year stretch gives Don Criqui the longevity record among sportscasters announcing for a single league.

Sportscasting generally refers to any commentary during a sports broadcast. Modern sports broadcasting of live events generally consists of at least two commentators, or sportscasters: a play-by-play announcer, who describes the action, and an analyst or color commentator, who provides additional information about the players, the game, plays, rules, and anything else that might come up during a broadcast.

The play-by-play announcer is generally a trained broadcaster who delivers an accurate, continual description of the action. However, the color commentator is often an athlete who may be retired from the sport being broadcast. These retired athletes possess a wealth of inside information about the sport and its personalities.

This combination of play-by-play and color commentators is so successful because in many sporting events, the action takes place in bursts, interspersed with periods of inactivity. The introduction of the color commentator allows the two to carry on conversations, a convenient device to keep the audience interested between descriptions of the action. These conversations often are highly informative and contribute to audiences’ understanding and appreciation of the sport and the event.