Much as one may regret it, it seems assured: The entire reporting is nothing more than a string of empty phrases. They refer to the intermediate score or the final result. If no goal is scored for 40 attacks, then “there are no ideas”, then “the last pass is not received”, then “there is no movement in the game” or “ultimately the catastrophic lack of finishing” is responsible. As soon as the goal is scored, the “collective deep sleep”, the “catastrophic positional errors” and “the weak goalkeeping” of the other side are to blame. So banal are phrases strung together that only emphasise the negative, are not even funny, let alone true or otherwise entertaining in the sense of building suspense.
What actually makes one a journalist, a reporter, who goes into the field of sports, especially football, and why? Isn’t it a kind of dream job? On the one hand, there should be an enthusiasm for the subject, on the other hand, the joy of being part of something great and being able to convey that to the listener/spectator? Shouldn’t one intuitively realise that the beautiful moments, the thrilling actions, the dramatic progressions should be far in the majority, and, if it were felt otherwise, still try to spice up the (then only perceived as low) tension, even if one only pretends passion to the followers?
Like, “I have to go to work in a minute.” “Yeah? Oh, what do you do?” “Well, I commentate on football matches. It’s an annoying job.” “Ah, so what’s your job?” “Well, my job is to entertain the viewer. A job like any other service job. You have to put on a different face than how you really feel at the time. The stewardess has to smile throughout even if she feels like crying, the hairdresser has to feign interest in everyday banalities of his customers, and I have to pretend that what I’m commenting on is exciting, dramatic, great.” So even if it were just a “job like any other”, one would have a duty to fill it – or, even better, change profession.
Apart from that, any phrase, if accepted as such – of course there will be disputatious minds that would call such a partial phrase simply not a phrase but an actually accurate analysis of the game situation — is unsuitable for conveying tension. It is also unsuitable for bringing out differentiations that make the beauty of the game, the perceived drama and passion recognisable. Every single phrase – even if it were humorous – turns the action into a uniform mash that one might still be able to eat, but which lacks palatability.
Here, a series of such phrases – in keeping with the picture – are “served up” to the reader. Everyone may judge for themselves whether a) they have heard the partial sentence before, b) whether it can be interpreted as positive and c) whether they consider the phrase appropriate to the game situation at that moment. Later – in view of the lack of content, not a very easy task – an attempt is made to shed some light on the content of the individual statements, for example, what may have prompted the person saying it to do so.
The statements are divided into categories, as it is advisable for the speaker to vary and exchange the phrases from time to time for certain states of play and actions, as otherwise it would become too obvious at some point that each individual one actually had no content at all.
1) “there is too little movement in the game”.
2) “there is a lack of playmakers”.
3) “there are no sparkling ideas”.
4) “there is no one offering themselves”.
5) “the outside positions are not occupied”.
6) “too much through the middle
7) “the last ball, the final pass does not arrive”.
8) “the crosses are not coming in
9) “the last precision is missing
10) “it’s not going to work like that”.
11) “He missed the chance miserably”.
12) “he simply has to sit”
13) “there is nothing going on”
14) “collective deep sleep in the back line”.
15) “catastrophic positional errors”.
16) “he gives a friendly escort”.
17) “it’s far too easy”.
18) “everyone is watching”
19) “compressed boredom”
20) “let’s be honest: a very weak game”
21) “a festival of bad passes”
22) “goals are scored through mistakes
23) “it has to go faster”
24) “played too hectically
25) “He hesitates too long”.
26) “he has to play immediately
27) “he has to try it himself”.
28) “he has to pass”
29) “too unselfish
30) “too selfish
31) “he must do more”.
32) “weak tackling behaviour”.
Well, if you read them one after the other like that, the verdict seems unquestionable at first: the tone is negative, all round. Now, nevertheless, one can look a little into the reasons for the statements and their contents.
The fact that such statements are heard at all is probably not in dispute. One question would be about the frequency with which they reach the ear. Another would be whether the speaker has made a good, sensible, clever, attentive, appropriate, special observation at that moment, or whether it is a sentence simply said, the latter of which would constitute a phrase. Another question might be – for the completely unbiased – whether it is not possibly far eclipsed by praise, enthusiasm, passion and emotionality, genuine enthusiasm and objective recognition made before or after. Something like the motto: “After so much good, it’s okay to let a little criticism come through.”
Of course, one may also differentiate a little here between individual broadcasters and individual speakers. With the public broadcasters it is not quite as penetrating as with the private broadcasters. And individually, of course, there are quite a few differences. Unfortunately, however, these are only of the order of nuances. It seems, however, that especially newcomers to the reporter industry, who often earn their first spurs via the private ones, are even more susceptible to such jargon.
On category 1:
“there is too little movement in the game”
“there is a lack of playmakers”.
“there are no sparkling ideas”
“there is no one offering themselves”
“the outside positions are not occupied
“too much through the middle
“the crosses are not coming”
“the last precision is missing”
“It’s not going to work out that way”
“he missed the chance miserably”
“he simply has to sit”
Now a little more detail: When do you hear such partial sentences? Yes, it’s usually the case that a team is torn apart all the time for its helplessness anyway – logical “consequence”: it’s trailing 0:1 -, so it doesn’t create a single sensible attack and when there is a chance, it misses it miserably. Since the 1:0 score suits the commentator well, and he has already set himself up for this result – natural cause: there is never a goal anyway – he is already hinting at the conclusion that we are once again around the ominous 70th minute. And then, all of a sudden (but only for him, because, hoover mentality, also preached by Christoph Daum, keep trying, at some point it will work out that even a small chance will happen), the score is 1:1 and he is suddenly torn out of his funeral dreams. Since every previous attack was flawed, it would be impossible to give a positive rating to the one that led to the goal, apart from the fact that anyone who sees something good in a football match is a layman and a euphemist per se, so the blame is directly passed on to the defence.
Added to this is the phenomenon that many of the platitudes emanate during ongoing attacks. This means, however, that an attack that is then successful after all cannot simply be praised because it has already been declared bungling during the execution.
Logically derived and directly linked to the drivel of the last 20 minutes before: Every attack was badly played, then only one can lead to a goal if “the entire defence is in collective deep sleep. Oh, what am I saying, the defence, it already started at the front, with the unnecessary loss of the ball.” Actually, the whole team was in a deep sleep. That’s why they talk about the “collective”.
That explains why he says it now. The questions that follow include: Does he think he is hitting the nail on the head with this “analysis”? Does he think the viewer will find it entertaining? Does he think he is making the game exciting with it? Who gave him permission to speak? Imagine that the spectator is just dozing off while he is reciting the swan song about the trailing team, and the conclusion is as good as in the bag, but suddenly this dramatic turn in the game occurs, and he immediately comments on it with “collective deep sleep”, that the listener now goes out of his chair with excitement? “Oh yes, let me see, everyone’s asleep, I want to see that. Oh, it’s crazy, really, he’s been sleeping, he’s just watching, he’s not attacking, he’s dozing off, he’s not going to the ball, he doesn’t feel responsible, they’ve lost sight of him and he’s falling like a railway crossing. Great! Show me more of them! When is the next game?”
Well, what would be particularly exciting to hear would be the same commentator at the same match scene if the goal was stopped after the goal had been scored. So he wouldn’t know whether the ball went in or not. Would the observation made from his entire and cumulative football experience then produce the exact same statement in the absence of knowledge of the outcome of the situation?
No, and here comes the cheeky claim: he would be completely speechless. None of the phrases would apply, could apply, because only knowledge of the outcome, the certainty of what will happen, is the basis for the “analysis”. Thus, the concluding commentary only fluctuated between “another example of the catastrophic weakness in finishing” as an identified weak point of one team and “collective deep sleep of the entire team” of the other team. He certainly could not tease out a truth as to what the situation was like – logically always a mixture of everything, but as a rule not bad, neither from this side nor that, at most tiny nuances that would become discernible. In reality, the man makes himself the absolute supreme expert, solely on the basis of the result.
In any case, one thing is quite certain: there was no “collective deep sleep” and “catastrophic positional errors” or “friendly escort”, “weak tackling behaviour”. He can neither believe that nor seriously want to be believed. So one investigates a little further why such things are being spouted? If one were to rely on increased entertainment value, this can soon be wiped off the table. Because it should be clear that there can still be something funny about it the first time, even the second or tenth time. But then it wears off. Then a new joke would have to be made. The old one is worn out, worn out, worn out. So it can’t have anything to do with humour.
Now one comes to scorn and ridicule. “Well, if you’re that stupid, don’t be surprised if you concede a goal.” Sure, that component counts. Yes, you have a chance to enhance yourself. That Kloppskopp there, what kind of crap is he doing? This can also affect the television viewer, for whom at the same moment the apparent gods (mind you, those on the field, not the talking three-quarter god) are not only pulled up to the same height, but can happily be placed several feet below you: In the ground into which they are tamped. This is good for anyone —- who otherwise lacks self-esteem. If this concerns a sports reporter – and there are indications that it does – then it is at the very least a most unfortunate arrangement. Why put a microphone in someone’s hand just so they can polish up a battered ego? No, this is not the stage for that.
So the statement is neither true nor entertaining. The only thing suitable is to give the speaker a (completely undeserved) boost. He, the poor beleaguered one who always had to kowtow upwards — is finally allowed to dish it out downwards. So it’s only base motives that, to put it mildly, simply have no place there.
Of course, there is another aspect. This is: a true expert does not simply cheer, a true expert does not sit there with his mouth open, so that he is at a loss for words due to enthusiasm. A true expert is a sober analyst who, very importantly, has seen it all. To be amazed, to be blown out of one’s chair, to celebrate, to be blown away – all this is the layman’s right. A true expert never goes out of his way, because he is even forced to put objective analysis before pure enthusiasm.
As correct as all this may be in its approach, and certainly partly responsible for the standard blah-blah, it is inappropriate in this position. After all, the point here is to entertain the viewer. Surely that must be the purpose of installing this person behind the microphone? The sober analyses can be done later. Now is the moment when something great happens, here I throw all vanity overboard. The listener must be captivated. now is my performance!
The fear, however, stands in the way, which is: if I break out into enthusiasm here now and simply celebrate a great goal, then the true expert is already standing behind me, sawing at my layman’s chair and wants to take this place – as a true expert to whom one cannot simply sell a string of catastrophic mistakes as a “great action”. Someone who immediately puts his finger on the problem.
But the paying viewer is forgotten, because he or she simply doesn’t want to listen to this drivel. And the question of “is there any other way?” has long since been answered. Raise your eyes for once, just at the level of the edge of your plate – well, just above it. And look at England – just as an example. There, true passion is combined with real expertise.
Sure, a team is (almost) always in possession or on the attack. Now there is a fantasy of what should/must/could happen now. This is situational and in itself independent of the score. It is the same for the spectator and probably for the speaker as well. Somewhere deeply embedded in every follower of the game, he or she still has an idea of how one should behave now. One also has an idea of what makes football, what makes it exciting and what makes it beautiful, still independent of any partiality.
Theoretically, one dreams of an attack because one has a neutral connection to football and has played and/or followed the game from an early age. This dream looks something like this:
“He should play the ball into the midfield, he offers himself, yes, great, he’s seen it, oh, he’s being attacked directly, well, then maybe he has to leave him there with a body trick, he’s done that, even better, now move on to the outside position, hey, the man is good, the outside player has to use his speed, yes, he does that, he passes, ooh, super, another one-two, now the cross should come, even if he’s slightly under pressure, he gets it, now best to the long midfielder who’s moving up and has a strong header, he passes, wow, the thing comes exactly, he skips it — no, the keeper has it, oh, he can’t hold on to it, but there’s the guy with the nose for goal lurking there, who’s always in the right position and pushes it in. Toooooooor!”
However, the frustration hurdle to jump over is extremely high, Weil: Most of the time the first ball fails, if it doesn’t, then the second one, and if that one also comes, the outside player gets caught and if it doesn’t — well, if he’s fouled, at least there’s a free kick –, then the double pass doesn’t work, if that one too, the offside flag comes, if that one doesn’t, the cross doesn’t come and if that one comes, one of the numerically superior defence gets to it, if that one doesn’t, then the keeper really holds it and if he lets it go, there’s still usually a defender there first and if. .. well, at some point it really does go in. Chance? Maybe 1:100.
But the speaker, who is no different from any TV viewer, has a unique chance to bring this to an audience of millions. Apart from his training and his recognised speaking ability, which could impress not only with tone of voice but also with skilful phrasing, he would also have to understand more of it than the average viewer. He is carried away by the same fantasies. However, he knows the score. And he intuitively senses the minuteness of the 1:100 chance. This attack will also yield nothing. a) the team is behind, which makes it bad per se, and b) the attack will come to nothing. That in a package makes for the drivel you get to hear.
As soon as partisanship is added, the perspective changes just a little. You would still know what the team with the ball should do now, but if you feel connected to the side not in possession of the ball, you concentrate even more on how to stop what could happen now.
A true expert behind the microphone now actually faces the task of doing this from both sides with the same objectivity (the subject of “neutrality” is dealt with separately; there are games in which one may assume that all listeners (!) are on one side, at which moment partisan commentary may be accepted; this is usually the case when home-speaking teams cross blades with foreign ones, and this does not only apply to German–). He should try to judge the quality of the defensive action as well as that of the offensive side. However, if he is biased, he should calmly emphasise the desired defensive performance or the defender’s behaviour, provided that this is “his”, no, “all of our” team, and vice versa the desired offensive action.
In this case, however, it is self-evident that one prefers to see the positive action, if neutrality is maintained, than the negative action that prevents the game. In other words, one would wish that the team in possession of the ball would now present a successful attack. This is only natural, because a) it only happens very rarely, so it becomes desirable and b) goals are the salt in the soup, and they only come from successful actions. If the defence wins again, it would have to be differentiated whether this came about through a successful defensive action or simply through mistakes in the opponent’s attacking play.
So far, so good. The phrases “there is not enough movement in the game”, “there are not enough players” or “there are not enough ideas” are used when the attacking team is behind or at least not leading. You can’t afford to do that with the leading team. And this, of course, already casts doubt on the expert position. Here, at most, the proof that this is the case is lacking, but if – as one likes to convince oneself from the next heard match commentary that none of the sentences are segregated for the team in the lead — then it would be clear that one does not comment on the basis of the match situation but on the basis of the score. In the case of drawn scores, it is often the case that the phrases are used alternately for both teams and in addition, but actually as a logical consequence, the whole game is described as “very, very weak”.
On the pitch, however, there is nothing to be seen of all the drivel. Once again, here’s the suggestion: deprive a second announcer, who of course has the same good football mind as the actual one, of knowledge of the score, and let him comment on the same scene. He would not dream of letting off one of the sentences. That is possible only and exclusively with knowledge of the score. How do the two of them want to talk about it afterwards? One speaks of the above deficiency, the other does not. Both are on the same level of understanding. Surely they must realise that they are not commenting on a football match and not on an action, but that they are permanently in the process of justifying a score?
Apart from the fact that the same shortcoming as in all other places is to be chalked up to the speaker: the statements are negative and are boring to listen to. This is guaranteed not to keep anyone glued to the action. He is supposed to stick around to watch the horrible chains of failures? “Nah, thanks, not with me.”
The players who are blamed for the lack of movement face the huge task that every footballer faces today, at least in the professional game: how on earth are we supposed to score? The defences are outnumbered – and that’s even more true when you’re chasing a goal — the defenders are compact, robust, often even bigger, and have all the rules of football on their side. You just don’t manage it, actually. But you try anyway. The player with the ball is looking for a place to play, the players on his team who are not on the ball are looking for a free spot, and he tries to get into position for the brilliant, final pass. However, it is an infinitely long way. And above all: if you do find it once, then …. the commentary immediately flips over, because at the same moment all the defensive deficit phrases apply.
Celebrating oneself also works, of course. It works like this: “At last you played fast” or “See, it’s that simple”. Because: He addressed the deficiency beforehand. He said beforehand that it has to go faster. When the goal is scored, he refers to it. But the shortcomings of the other side far outweigh this…
5) “catastrophic positional errors”.
6) “friendly escort
7) “it’s far too easy”.
to 8) “everyone is watching”
to 9) “compressed boredom”
to 10) “let’s be honest: a very weak game”
11) “goals are scored through mistakes
to 13) “he hesitates too long”
14) “He has to play right away”.
to 15) “he has to try it himself”.
to 16) “he has to take off”.
17) “too unselfish”.
18) “too selfish
to 19) “he has to make more of it”.
20) “It’s not going to work out that way”.
Finally, two points that will be dealt with separately.
33) the declared faultiness during an attack
34) the prefix “too” in general