Clive Tyldesley, a veteran broadcaster who Americans can hear on CBS’ Champions League coverage, says modern-day commentators are working too many games. The congested fixture of games plays no helping hand to those broadcasters. Yet, Tyldesley says these talents do not have ample time to prepare for the games they do. Nor do the commentators provide the grandeur that they could if they had just one game to do each week.

Speaking with Football365, Tyldesley said a listener or viewer cannot fully enjoy the broadcaster because they hear their voice so regularly. Some commentators will work multiple games in the Premier League while also calling games in the UEFA Champions League. Unsurprisingly, broadcasters put their best and most popular voices on the biggest games. With so many tuning into these contests, the commentators no longer become special.

“I don’t think it can be special enough for that viewer or listener for whom this is the most important game of the month if you’ve done commentaries the three previous nights,” Tyldesley said. I don’t think it can be special enough for that viewer or listener for whom this is the most important game of the month if you’ve done commentaries the three previous nights.”

The idea of improvement is crucial, according to Tyldesley. Not only could working so many games as a commentator sap the splendor of a commentator’s appearance for a game. Working games night after night does not allow these voices to hear and see what their colleagues are doing. There is only so much time in the day to prepare for and call a game where they can also learn from other commentators.

Clive Tyldesley identifies issues with commentators

“You’re not being the person you need to be for the consumer and in any industry. If you’re making liquorice sticks, from time to time you need to go and taste your rivals’ liquorice sticks so you can appreciate what they’re doing and what you’re not doing. And I just don’t think there’s now time for that.”

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Tyldesley mentions that commentary and its practice with soccer have not overly changed during his time. Competitions, teams, players and channels differ, but the actual practice of calling a game is, more or less, the same. However, modern commentators have lost the ability to take time to think. Rather than using a period of silence in a game to come up with future phrases, commentators use it as rest. That is a crucial time that is just as much work as speaking.

The Englishman alluded to Reg Gutteridge, the late commentator who served as a mentor to Tyldesley at the beginning of his career. Gutteridge taught Tyldesley the importance of using periods of silence to think. Most commentators now, according to Tyldesley are not thinking on their feet before speaking. Instead, he called it a ‘stream of consciousness.’

Where commentators can improve

In addition to thinking quickly, Tyldesley said cliches and mimicking commentators of years prior are not the best ways to practice commentary.

“It’s really depressing to hear a 30-year-old commentator talk about ‘turning on a sixpence’,” Tyldesley said. “They went out of circulation in 1971! You’re just regurgitating the same cliches that we were warned against a hundred years ago. You’re using the same style, same phrases that were ridiculed in Private Eye 40 years ago.”

Tyldesley is still active, but not at the frequency that he criticizes. For Americans, the most common way to hear the broadcaster is on CBS and Paramount+ as he calls some of the biggest UEFA Champions League.


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