May 21, 2011

I have a low tolerance for ignorance. Or more accurately, for ignorant people who should know better.

Which is why, when I lived in Canada, I used to hate listening to the cycling commentary. Four guys at the table, some knowledgeable, some completely clueless, with the result that the only safe topic was Lance (because to have an opinion on him, they didn’t need to follow cycling, reading People magazine was sufficient).

With the Ride of the Day (brought to you by Bowflex, the machine of choice for a 50-year-old grandma and a dude who can’t keep his shirt on) guaranteed to be Lance and the Team of the Week (brought to you by a guy who eats at Subways and still wears pants that are 30 sizes too large) always US Postal, any clown can present the show – and boy did they hire some over the years.

The excuse was always they used clowns so clueless viewers had someone to identify with, but don’t the viewers deserve a bit more respect than that?

Now that the Tour of California is going on, I was wondering: How is the commentating now on VS? Has it improved? Let me know in the comments section.

11 Responses to “Ignorance”

  1. NoSiesta Says:

    not at all unfortunately. I watch with volume off

  2. When they have Phil and Paul, yes, when not, it’s too much about Lance Armstrong and useless comments about things not related to the race

  3. tom Says:

    The commentary on Versus is weak. Phil and Paul focus on Americans and a few favorite Euros, like “big Thor Husovd” and ignore the rest. They often ignore the action and seem to follow their own script. This was especially evident the other day when Horner took the lead. On the next to last climb, Radio Shack was on the front setting a blistering pace for quite a while. P & P never even mentioned the names of the riders setting the pace.
    I also recall Phil saying something about how you can never underestimate this 20 year-old young rider, maybe Sagan or Van Garderin. It sounded especially dumb to me. A 20 year-old still has a lot of development ahead of him. A 20 year-old is an unknown quantity. A 20 year-old will surprise you!
    Don’t even get me started on their Claasics commentary. I like the crew Universal Sports has covering the Giro a lotr better.

  4. Tanya Says:

    When I can, I listen to the Europsport commentary online while watching Versus or Universal Sports with the sound off.

    I fell in love with the Tour de France while listening to Paul and Phil, but their commentary now seems tailored to what they think U.S. audiences care about and disconnected from the actual story of what’s happening on the road. Did the years of telling the same story every Tour de France kill their curiosity, or am I just more aware now?

    I get much more from the live chats during stages, most often on Podium Cafe. The online race reporting is so much deeper and less biased.

    But the very fact that it was possible to watch the Giro on U.S. television this year–along with so many other races that once could only be seen online–gives me hope: Maybe U.S. cycling commentary on TV will rise to meet the level of the better online journalists. A gal can hope, right?

  5. huphtur Says:

    There’s hardly any cycling on TV in the US. 90% of the time I watch a pirated internet Sporza feed with top notch Flemish commentary.

    If there’s no Sporza feed, I try to watch Eurosport feed, but Sean Kelly’s monoton voice kinda creeps me out.

    I only watch Cycling on Versus because they broadcast in HD. I always DVR and start watching halfway in so I can ffwd through the commercials and the silly “featured rider” and “technology by bob roll” items. Show me the race already! But the picture quality on VS is amazing, so it kinda makes up for all the other BS.

    Universal doesn’t broadcast in HD, and looks horrible on my TV, so I watch Sporza feed.

    As a cycling fan living in the US, you take what you get, because there’s not much coverage at all.

    I hope Pro cycling can/will break away from UCI soon, and with that set up some sort of 24/7 live cycling feed on the internets in HD.

  6. josh Says:

    P&P are, unfortunately, terrible. They can barely speak english anymore (though i hear sherwin speaks fluent swahili) and are totally out of touch with what is actually happening in the race, often not knowing who they are looking at or pronouncing one persons name 10 different ways. VS also seems to have more ads and useless graphics up on the screen with P&P helping plug any product they can at every turn. Bobke interviewing people? he’s awesome, but come on. bring back Frankie, at least he was coherent and eloquent. Todd and Steve on Universal sports are really good, i hope they are kept even though NBC now owns VS. who knows, maybe they will take over the VS coverage.

    and i have to say, not the US and he doesn’t say a lot but Sean Kelly on eurosport is awesome.

  7. Eric Says:

    Phil and Paul are indeed hamstrung by commenting for a US channel. I think that if they were freed to comment without having to tailor their words to American audiences it would be much more engaging.

  8. luca Says:

    Hey come here in Italy and watch Giro on tv…Davide Cassani and Francesco Pancani really know something about cycling,rides,tech and so on…..

  9. operarunner Says:

    there was nothing more frustrating than watching the finale of ATOC yesterday without any commentary on anyone but Radioshack – nevermind that garmin cervelo, liquigas and HTC were pushing the pace all day you’d never know it. And NO reference to LA, Tyler or anything else topical. I wish I spoke Flemish – I’d be on Sporza all the time.

  10. Dave Says:

    I watched one of the ToC stages while following the cycling news.com live feed. Half of Paul Sherwin’s announcing was taken verbatim from the cn feed. He was actually reading the feed like it was his spontaneous announcing. At least that was accurate. Most of the rest of what he and Liggett said was inaccurate. I much prefer the eurosport or sporza feeds, the latter of which I can’t even understand.

  11. benDE Says:

    I was watching a eurosport feed of TDU last year and during what would have been the VS commercial break (I hear there are many) Phil was caught on an open mic. His level of awarness or lack there of was striking. Not only about the stage of the day but of the sport in general. And I am no expert myself.

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