Image Description: Brain Taylor in a forest.
By Mikey Issit
All sports are entertainment. Therefore, commentating on sports is an art form. When people on TV commentate a game of footy, they’re not just delivering the straight facts, they’re describing the action as it unfolds. They’re telling a story.
The best commentators are able to inject some personality into the equation. Bruce McAvaney (uniquely not an ex-player) excels at expressing pure amazement and ecstasy. He has no filter when admiring a good player, sometimes calling them “delicious”, maybe making his more traditionally masculine colleagues uncomfortable. It’s part of what makes him so special.
Dennis ‘Golden Tonsils’ Cometti described the play-by-play with warm, dulcet tones and an array of catchphrases and on-the-fly similes to perfectly sum up a situation. After a goal-saving tackle early in the 2010 AFL Grand Final, Dennis said, “he came up behind him like a librarian! He never heard him!” People love this kinda stuff.
The best pick of the bunch, however, has to be Brian ‘BT’ Taylor. On the surface, he’s a blockhead ex-player from an outdated era. An 80s macho man. Just look at that moustache. But there’s a genius hidden under the surface. BT has a boisterous presence on the mic. His earnest excitement is a positive force, demanding attention and elevating the game itself. When he’s calling a big game with a sellout crowd, everyone going bananas, the viewer can’t help but become invested.
BT is versatile. His post-game segment ‘Roaming Brian’ (essential viewing for any footy fan) features BT chaotically exploring the winning team’s training room, nervously busting in on conversations, chatting to fan-favourites and asking questions about how the team operates, with admiration. Norman Gunston-like. Like any quality journalist, BT delivers to the viewer close-up and genuine perspectives. He shows us that players aren’t air-headed athletes with nothing to say. They are people with unique personalities.
Nowadays of course, the footy’s been postponed. But modern problems require modern solutions. BT has adapted by commentating upon everyday life. Phone in hand, he’s been exploring his neighbourhood of country Victoria: the heartland of football. With massive crowd cheers replaced with serene natural ambience, BT switches to a quiet whisper. Roaming beautiful Australian vistas, he describes flora and fauna with childlike wonder, like the next God-blessed Steve Irwin.
There’s more to BT, and sports in general, than meets the eye. These are not boofheads without personality. Sports resonate with so many people because of the stories they bring us, and great commentators tell these stories with wit, charm and excitement.
Mikey Isitt is a follower of new sincerityTM