This video does not have enough of the BBC commentary to prove the point, but Matt Baker and the rest of the BBC gymnastics commentators provide excellent commentary, provide real information for both gymnastics experts and novices and are able to keep up a non-intrusive, but running commentary.
Many gymnastics experts and bloggers believe there is not even one of the US (and Canadian) gymnastics commentators who is nearly as good as any of the BBC commentators. Every broadcast the US commentators make the comment that the balance beam is only 4 inches wide at every single competition they cover. Let’s face it, even casual gymnastic viewers will have figured that out by now. They tend to get stuck on one deduction and comment over and over on it, like sticking landings or going out of bounds, like that one deduction is the most important thing in the meet. But the biggest complaint true gymnastics fans feel and comment on is that the US commentators are always complaining and about how everyone dislikes how negative the commentary always is.
Shannon Miller, along with one of the British commentators has been handling the NBC Olympics online commentary and that has been an excellent combination (although I think it would have been better if the British commentator had taken more of a lead with the men’s competition commentary.
The BBC commentators manage to focus on the outstanding aspects of every performance, while still educating the audience to major errors. The result is that BBC gymnastics broadcasts celebrate the sport, uplift the image of the sport and show their true appreciation of the talent, skill and experience that is being displayed. With the US commentators, it the domination of negative comments makes it more difficult for fans to fully appreciate our great sport.
It is true that some criticism is necessary to explain the rules and the judging but the sport deserves positive commentary that spreads our appreciation for gymnastics to everyone watching. Perhaps, at the London Olympics, the US commentators can learn some lessons from the highly experienced BBC professionals.
It is certainly the online gymnastics blog consensus that the US commentators should be retired and the suggestions for replacement include Shannon Miller, Missy Marlowe, John Roethlisberger and Sandy Woolsey Holcomb. I’m sure there are other possible nominations out there.