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Beginners Commentary

Look, he's trying to get the ball to go towards the thing at the far end, using only his feet...
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Some time last year I discovered snooker. It was on a lot, and my house mates watched it on the television. It didn't really seem that interesting, but my friends explained what was going on to me. I saw what the players were trying to do, what order the balls were supposed to be potted in, how it was scored, what a snooker was and I began to get the point.

Then I realised that there might be plenty of sports that people would enjoy, but don't because they don't see what's going on.

Now it seems to me that with interactive services on TV, they could easily add a few levels of commentary. You would have the standard commentators chatting away, but you would also have a couple of extra commentators who would sit in separate boxes. They would be able to hear the standard commentary on their headphones, and would talk into their microphones during gaps in the regular commentary.

The viewers would then get to decide how much commentary they want. My feeble examples use snooker, because that's the thing that gave me the idea, and football (the non-American one) because it's more popular than snooker.

There could be a basic level which explains that the football needs to go into the goal, or that a red ball has to be potted before the snooker player can try to pot a colour. The next level up might explain that the snooker player is hitting the cue ball like so in order to both pot the red and try to get into a good position for the colour, or maybe explaining the offside rule.

If that worked they might even try levels above the standard commentary, which would discuss obscure theories on the differences between players cuing action or on, well, something footballish that the average fan doesn't really know much about, and about which I know even less.

I've thought about this idea a bit before, but the reason I remembered it was when I saw a little bit of the curling from this years winter Olympics and was absolutely baffled. So what I would have liked to do was add in, or maybe even replace the standard commentary with some that actually explained what they were trying to do. It would tell me what sweeping actually achieved, where the stones were supposed to be going, and why some of them were removed and others were left lying around.

RobertKidney, Mar 05 2006

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       I need something like this for American Football, but suspect that you couldn't pull it off in real time. So, rather than making this a parallel commentary, I'd just do a half-hour or hour each week where some moves in a significant game that week are explained for utter beginners.   

       This could be good and fun to watch, given good commentators who don't talk down to their audience; I bet a lot of people who "know" the sport would sneak off and watch it to brush up, along with beginners.
jutta, Mar 05 2006
  

       Couldn't pull it off in real time?! Surely American Football is a shining example of a sport where there's time to explain everything, not to mention pass on a few good quiche recipes between plays.
Texticle, Mar 05 2006
  

       There are several TV programs featuring people playing poker, a game that I know very little about. One of them has a very brief runthrough of the value of the various possible hands, before each game. It's a thirty-second bit, about like a commercial, and shouldn't be too bad for people who are already familiar with the game. For me, it is a great help. I still don't watch the program, though.
baconbrain, Mar 05 2006
  

       This would be perfect for American Football. I already know most of the rules, but I have no problem seeing how someone who hasn't really seen the sport before can be totally baffled as to what the hell they are doing on the field. I think this idea could work wonders in increasing the fan base of the NFL, and they would have no problem funding something like this (Most T.V.s and most major T.V. programs have S.A.P., or secondary audio programming) This idea is totally bakable, not only that but a sport like American football almost *NEEDS* something like this. Bun.
Pac-man, Mar 05 2006
  

       This would really help for curling.   

       I'm Canadian and I still never know what the hell they're talking about.
Cuit_au_Four, Mar 05 2006
  

       I need this for cricket ("Press button 1 on your remote if you've no idea what 'following on' means")
hippo, Mar 06 2006
  

       // no idea what 'following on' means //   

       like following through, but less messy?   

       + for the idea.
jonthegeologist, Mar 06 2006
  

       I need this for just about every sport on tv.
wagster, Mar 06 2006
  

       //'following on' //making tired batsmen, at the end of whatever you call it, bat again at the beginning of the next whatever you call it!
po, Mar 06 2006
  

       "Sports" I can understand, it's "games" I have trouble with: pinochle ... or for that matter, bridge, just doesn't play on my old machine (brain).
reensure, Mar 06 2006
  

       You need my bridge expansion upgrade.
RayfordSteele, Mar 07 2006
  

       Except that the whole point of watching cricket is trying to solve the riddles of the rules, explaining them to your friends, arguing about them.
zeno, Mar 07 2006
  

       US sports commentators, like British tennis commentators, prattle on way too much as it is.   

       But frankly, it the game doesn't interest you before you know how it's played, it ain't gonna be any more exciting once you've found out.
DrCurry, Mar 07 2006
  

       Yeah I think cricket would be the ultimate use for this, being understood the least out of all sports. [+]
Mr Phase, Mar 07 2006
  

       I'm with wagster. I don't understand anything.   

       Using this, you might have a chance of working out what the 'offside' rule is (US soccer, rest-of-world football).
dbmag9, Mar 07 2006
  

       oh come on! everyone knows the offside rules...
po, Mar 07 2006
  

       Go on then... we're waiting...
wagster, Mar 07 2006
  

       No, [DrCurry], I don't agree with you. Most things are more interesting when you understand how they work. I would definitely tune into this, if only so I can decide from a position of knowledge that the sport in question isn't worth my time.   

       One of the reasons I haven't yet tried to follow American Football and Baseball is that I don't want to be the whiny, annoying guy who keeps asking what they are doing now and why.   

       Also, I notice that many things are now legal in Rugby that would have got you sent off when I was at school - lifting in the line-out, for instance - so I'm definitely behind on things there, despite being a sort of on-off follower over the years.
egbert, Mar 07 2006
  

       Yeah, but if you're interested, you'll make the effort to find out and understand. And if you're not interested, no amount of splainin' will make any difference. (From years of experience, both my own with American Football - I've had the rules explained in great detail, but it still makes no "sense" to me - and Baseball - I've picked up the rules without any real explanation, even coached it - and watching scores of other people fail to ever understand a game - look at all the references to crickets on these pages.)
DrCurry, Mar 07 2006
  

       Nope. If I want to learn maths, I want a maths teacher who can explain it at my level, not his. Same goes for sports.
wagster, Mar 07 2006
  

       wags, tomorrow when I'm sober.   

       at present, I am seeing 3 between the goalkeeper and the ref, no, the defender...
po, Mar 07 2006
  

       /Yeah, but if you're interested, you'll make the effort to find out and understand/   

       Nope, I want it on a plate.
egbert, Mar 07 2006
  

       baseball or dinner?
po, Mar 08 2006
  

       //I saw a little bit of the curling from this years winter Olympics and was absolutely baffled//

I had a go at curling last week. It's not as easy as it looks. For a start, the sole of your left shoe (or right shoe if you're a cak-hander) is made of teflon, so standing up straight takes a bit of practise. The stones are 42lbs of solid granite and you always have to 'bowl' them from the centre line of the rink (so no shuffling about and changing the angle like you can in darts). Sweeping the ice in front of the stone is bloomin' knackering. It's done to melt the ice in front of the stone, thus reducing friction, so making the stone run faster and curl less. Inducing the stone to curl is done by imparting a gentle spin on it as you bowl.
DrBob, Mar 08 2006
  

       I couldn't imagine this working so well with the game of darts.
Ling, Mar 08 2006
  

       egbert: "Nope, I want it on a plate."   

       Frankly, if it were presented to you on a plate, you'd still huff that it is incomprehensible and go off and ignore the game in question forever more. This is not physics or geography: not everyone is going to like every kind of game, whether they understand the rules or not.   

       Look at the first comment - if a bright lass like jutta hasn't been able to figure out American football in all the time she's been here, then on some level, her subconscious must have decided that it's not the kind of thing she will ever enjoy, and is keeping her from wasting any more energy on it.   

       Having myself put the effort into understanding American football, I can report that the game totally fails to captivate me. Whereas I can quite enjoy a game of baseball. But I know many here who can't stand the "slow" pace of baseball and only follow American football.
DrCurry, Mar 08 2006
  

       /In a game of cricket there are usually blah blah blah/   

       You know what, DrC? You were right. Thanks anyway for trying, UB.   

       Joking aside, mostly the reason why I don't follow sports is because I can't be bothered to learn the rules, techniques, teams, players' names, managers' mistresses names, etc etc. I have a suspicion that if the basic ideas were presented to me on a plate, I would at least find some of it interesting enough to follow occasionally, and would at least have the satisfaction of making a choice from taste rather than lassitude.   

       And I only huff and puff when my laptop misbehaves.
egbert, Mar 09 2006
  

       ;)
DrCurry, Mar 09 2006
  
      
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