That brief Euro 2008 blackout last night

One of the unexpected and rather joyful side-effects of the sound and pictures going down during last night’s Euro 2008 semi-final was, for at least five minutes, we got 5Live commentary rather than Motty & Lawro.

Occasionally I’ve selected the 5Live option via the red button but, in the pub last night, having the commentary flip between Motson and Alan Green made you realise firstly how good 5Live’s football commentary is (despite the fact they were commentating primarily for a radio audience, it actually enhanced the pictures), and how poor TV commentary is in general.

A few years ago a friend of mine did a short radio feature on provisions for blind fans at football matches. At Ipswich Town this included audio commentary throughout the match so blind and partially-sighted fans could take in the atmosphere of live games and follow the match. One of the interviewees remarked on the poor quality of TV football commentary, a point that was well emphasised last night.

I’ve done a bit of radio summarising at matches in the past and it’s not an easy skill but it’s still a bit of a puzzler when radio commentators (and ex-player pundits) can describe a game so well yet TV commentary is so lacking. (It might be one of the reasons I don’t mind Jonathan Pearce too much. Hyperbolic he may be, but at least I have a fair idea of what’s going on when I nip into the kitchen for a cuppa). Although this may be just my general love of speech-based radio coming to the fore here.

For Sunday’s final, I’ll be putting 5live on. And for every other game as well. It’s like broadband vs 56k. Both do their job, but it’s impossible to willingly go back once you’ve got used to the superior product.

[Incidentally, I’m loving the Guardian using the word snafu in a news report!]

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