The German Way to Comment on Games

12 Feb 2017 Karina S. Henkel

I never noticed it until Andrew showed me a video on YouTube. He and all his friends thought it was hilarious, but I couldn’t see what was so funny about it until he explained it to me. In the video two German commentators were making their usual remarks about the player’s moves. It was American football. The New England Patriots were playing against the Miami Dolphins and the game must have reached an exciting moment. Both commentators where yelling and screaming passionately. The word “monster block” was shouted repeatedly and even for English speaking people understandable. (This is the link to the video: )

Andrew watched the video again and again and had to laugh every time. He said the commentators sounded like they were sitting in a bar and were not like professional commentators. First I didn’t understand what he meant, but then I recalled all the hundreds of games I witnessed involuntarily because he was watching them in our living room. American commentators speak very evenly. There is not much emotion involved (There are exceptions, though. I bet when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 for the first time in 86 years the commentators must have shown some emotions.) They describe what is happening on the field and spice it up with some additional information or compare what happens with previous events. But they talk evenly, almost dryly.

But then there are the German commentators I know and grew up with. Of course I know them only from soccer. They are passionate, yell and scream while they are watching and commenting. Oh, they also have additional information and fill any gaps with their knowledge, but usually there is no dry and quiet talk - soccer is all about emotions and the commentators sell exactly that.

And that is why I thought that the German way to comment on an American football game felt so natural to me. But for Americans it sounded like two half drunken guys yelling in a bar. The paradox is that fans feel a lot of emotions around their football teams.  But they are not used to seeing or hearing that from their commentators.

Funny. I would have never thought that Germans would ever have an area where they appear to be more emotional than other nationalities.