The problem with sports commentators

3 October 2015: “And that, ladies and gentlemen, completes England’s humiliation.”

He was talking of England’s 13-31 defeat to Australia in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. But they weren’t humiliated. Humiliated would be a 57-0 defeat. Or a defeat where three of our guys were sent off for foul play, where they brought themselves, the team and the sport into disrepute. That would be humiliating.

Playing well and putting heart and spirit and blood and sinew into 80 minutes is not humiliating.

It highlights a disturbing trend in sports commentators and reporters in general. It’s the point when the line gets blurred – when the commentator ceases to do his/her job and begins to pass judgment instead. When the professional is superseded by the personal.

It’s the use of rhetoric to create an opinion or belief in the minds of listeners. It’s a private agenda designed to … what? Encourage continued viewing so the audience can listen to someone vilify a team they’ve now been conditioned to dislike?

It’s a trend that becomes even more worrying when you wonder how widespread it is. Whether it’s more than just sports commentators. When it could be business or politics correspondents. Economists. War correspondents. What exactly is it we’re being fed? How much emotive language goes into everything we watch? And how dangerous is it?

We all KNEW Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The papers and news anchors screamed it at us for months on end. The media loves to preach about its rights, about the freedom of the press, but yet we all know their agendas include doing anything to sell more papers/get more subscribers to their online magazine/website/TV channel.

Today, England are ‘humiliated’. Tomorrow, they might be marching to war. All based on the idiolect and phrasing of our correspondents.

It’s a scary thought.

Virgin Media, on the other hand, got it all right with their half-time commercial – AIMED AT GIRLS. It was (or was it?) a bold move to air a new commercial that is, yes, for broadband, but empowers and inspires young girls and women nonetheless, at half-time in England’s crunch match against Australia.

But they did it, and all the power to them. I think it’s brilliant. Virgin Media ad


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