are sometimes smooth and silky, and other times tired and tight.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

It's not about the voice

I love soccer, but I hate watching it in the US. The commentators just don’t do it for me. The same thing goes with watching Baseball, or US Football, in Europe, with European commentators. I’m not sure if it’s something as simple as having to grow up with a sport to be able to describe it on TV, or the radio? Probably not. Most likely it’s a simple, but crucial, combination of knowledge and a way with words.

When it comes to cycling commentators, the best one can hope for in the English speaking world is Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin. While Ligget has a sound knowledge of professional bike racing, articulate is not a word that comes to mind when describing him. Charming is probably a better word, with his “suitcases of courage”, and total inability to pronounce the last names of all but the Anglo-Saxon brigade of the European peloton.

It’s sad, but true: Phil and Paul are minor league compared to some of their European colleagues. I’ll admit that there’s worse out there. The German commentators are just as bad, and if not inferior to Ligget and Sherwin. The Dutch can be pretty boring, generally missing a tactical nuance, and the timbre of the voice tends to drone on and on, to the point where I fall asleep.

When I think of the World Champion of commentators, only one name comes to mind: Michel Wuyts. Wuyts’ depth of knowledge, his grasp of tactics, his ability to spot a move before it happens, his steady yet excitable baritone (providing the perfect counter pitch to his 'color commentator' the ever blasé José De Cauwer), working in harmony with the hum of the TV motorcycle in the background, he’s second to none.

And now, as we we’re in the midst of Vlaamse Wieler Week (Flemish Cyling Week), I’m already warming up the TV, and icing the beer, in anticipation for a nice Easter Sunday, to be spent sitting for 4+ hours in front of the TV, listening to Meneer Wuyts and De Cauwer. Lekker.

A clip, from the 2005 World Championships in Madrid, where the quality (or patent lack there of) of a French commentator compared to Wuyts' brilliance is exposed.

Pay attention: Wuyts coined a sentence that will never be forgotten by the Dutch/Flemish speaking cycling world.



CyLowe said...

Ahh... Phil and Paul. The same blah blah over and over. But anything to save us from Bobke. In either case, at least we get some cycling on tv these days on this side of the pond.

Arron said...

i know no others. these two seem to say the same thing weekend after weekend? maybe it's just me. later.

sean said...

so what was the classic dutch phrase? is it translatable? "I. Don't. Speak. Dutch."