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What is a Sportscaster?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 23, 2024
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A sportscaster, also known as a sports commentator or sports announcer, is a professional radio or broadcast personality who provides a live narration of a sporting event as it occurs. A sportscaster might also provide commentary or insight into a game, the players, coaches or even the fans.

In many cases there will be two sportscasters who work together to present an event. The play-by-play sportscaster, and the color commentator. The play-by-play announcer is most often a professional sports journalist and broadcaster, capable of calling several different types of sporting events. The color commentator is often a former player of the game, there to provide interesting insights and relevant personal stories. Color commentators who are former players or coaches only act as sportscasters for their native sports.

Sportscasters who work in tandem act as a kind of tag team. When the game is active, the play-by-play commentator takes center stage. When the ball stops, this sportscaster often hands off to the color commentator by asking a question. The color commentator might share tales about past games, his or her career, or anecdotes that would be of interest to fans. When the action starts back up, the play-by-play sportscaster is expected to take over again.

Overly talkative sportscasters can be a pet peeve of some sports fans when the announcers talk over action. Many fans rely on the play-by-play commentary and become aggravated when sportscasters get involved in conversations that take away from the action.

Arguably the most famous sportscaster in U.S. history was Howard Cosell (25 March 1918 - 23 April 1995). Cosell’s career included famed boxing matches like those of Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali), countless baseball games and even Monday Night Football. His frank, intellectual style of reporting and his catch phrase, “I’m just telling it like it is,” made him a favorite. Cosell also announced the murder of Beatle John Lennon on 8 December 8 1980 during a Monday Night Football game, stunning a nation.

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