Thursday, 26 November 2009

Not Rocket Science!

Watching Porto v Chelsea last night on our 28" television, I kept looking for Ballack. He is a big man, over six feet. Dark hair, good looking athlete. I knew that he was supposed to be playing from pre-match information. It was a Champions League Group match which Chelsea won 1-0. I thought it was him once when a Chelsea player approaching the Porto penalty area received and then passed the ball. The commentator didn't mention it. And if it was him I was not able to identify him again until he was substituted. I realise that I have watched many matches without identifying Ballack. Over several seasons. The next day when he is praised in the press I think ....where was he? Don't get me wrong, I am not blaming Ballack, he may well have had a good game. But to the television spectator he is just a nameless figure representing Chelsea. Like plenty of others.

Commentators don't just comment. They are also identifiers! Interpreters of the screen made of dots of colour. Get real! I know we have huge screens, but the shapes we see are only in two dimensions and only centimetres high in distance shots. My familiarity with a shape will surely develop given time spent watching the shape. But only if it is identified. I want to know who I am watching. Remember the radio? The commentator tells you who has the ball.

On my television, on a large screen, not on a small flickering postcard-sized 1960's meccano-set - when a minute figure picks up a pass in the centre near the penalty box I might be able to tell it is Drogba.  I have a fair idea of Drogba's shape. I think, "Shoot, Drogba, you world-beater you!" And I shout. "Let's have a goal Droggers, old son!
Then the lackey of a commentator says, "Lampard puts another shot wide."
He tells us who had the ball but only when the emotion it conjures has gone.

(Note:This was another match, not last night's; Lampard has put quite a lot of shots wide this so far this season, but in fact last night he was somewhere foreign having placenta treatment on his knee/thigh! How mad is that?)

And have you noticed how much more difficult it is to recognise players on screen WHEN THEY ARE WEARING THE AWAY STRIP? John Terry in the Chelsea blue is instantly recognisable, except in the very long shots. Put him in pink and you have no clue at all who it is. Last night Chelsea were in a kind of white but not England white. Chelsea also have grey shirts and black ones. This all adds to the confusion of who actually is playing, kicking, dribbling, tripping, diving, pulling shirts and taking throw-ins. The commentator is struck mute on this subject most of the time. But he is supposed to be at the match looking at real players and interpreting the game.

For corners and free-kicks you usually get a close-up shot and I can recognise the player - by the 30th game of the season when I have seen him in blue for a few matches, that is. Why don´t the commentators make sure we have the vital information: who the bloody hell has the ball? We can see figures on the pitch and the size of the crowd and all the adverts, come to that. We can see lots of irrelevant information on the screen BUT we want to know the name of the one WHO HAS THE BALL, and the name of the one who has it next, and so on.

Cech throws the ball to Ashley Cole who strokes it forward to Malouda .. Ballack .. Lampard .. Anelka .. Ivanovich coming forward .. Joe Cole  .. BALLACK (there he is)..Drogba .. on his back .. gets up .. unbelievable .. and shoots.

"It's a goal", shouts the commentator. "Drogba has scored a magnificent goal!"

It is not rocket science!
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1 comment:

  1. My wife says it is a 27" screen, not 28" as stated in the blog.
    Actually, I now think it is 32".