Rubber bones and road crossing: Commentators get creative during lockdown

©Agence France-Presse

Fox Sports commentator Joe Buck is asking his 268,000 Twitter followers to send him short videos for him to add mock commentary

London (AFP) - Dogs chasing rubber bones, "competitive" road crossing and the thrills of grilled chicken have become the new currency for sports commentators looking to entertain fans during the coronavirus lockdown.

With virtually no sport being played anywhere in the world due to the pandemic, under-employed TV pundits are keeping the sporting public amused with social media commentary on the more mundane aspects of life.

BBC commentator Andrew Cotter has worked at the Olympics and Wimbledon, but during the health crisis he has kept his voice in action by focusing on his two labradors, Olive and Mabel.

Cotter took to Twitter to share a commentary on his dogs as they munched from separate food bowls -- "Olive, focused, relentless, tasting. Nothing left but the bowl to lick now. Great rivals but great friends. You see the swapping of bowls there at the end."

His post of the eating contest has been viewed by more than 10 million people and was retweeted by Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds.

A follow-up effort featuring the dogs fighting over an orange rubber bone -- "So into the final minute and Olive in possession, but this is where Mabel is strong, chasing the game, using that intensity" -- has been watched 18.4 million times.

"It just shows how much we are all missing sport and what we term 'normal life'. We absolutely take it for granted and we are at last realising that," Cotter said.

Freelance rugby commentator Nick Heath, who usually works for the BBC and Sky, has gone viral with his hilarious "life commentaries" while sport is on hold.

Filming people going about their business in south London, Heath gives the run-of-the-mill activities a tongue-in-cheek sports flavour.

His many comedic gems include people crossing the road to his excitable voiceover -- "Crossroad dash, light turns to red, we wait for the beeps, there they are. 

"Now then, JD Sports man, he's got a decent start, leggings on the outside. Oh! JD Sports a bit distracted over the shoulder, and leggings is going to get there. She does it again, three titles in three days. Off past Vegas Gold for the lap of honour. Victorious!"

'Two flies on a wall'

Heath also muses on competitive vegetable-buying in a market, an "international 4x4 pushchair formation final" as mothers wheel their babies through a park and a "spaniel speedway" commentary that was so popular he has started a website to sell T-shirts with the slogan on.

His ironic take is inspired by British commentating icons, as well as television character Alan Partridge.

Heath, whose Twitter following is now more than 126,000, told AFP: "It's been much more popular than I expected. I was just doing the parody voice I used when I was writing some comedy a few years ago.

"There's some Brian Moore, Barry Davies, a couple of dollops of Partridge. I saw my character as someone who could make two flies on a wall sound interesting."

Heath and Cotter are not alone among the commentating fraternity in turning to people's daily routines to provide light relief during the lockdown.

In the United States, Fox Sports commentator Joe Buck was working on the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers just weeks before the virus took hold.

But now Buck, one of America's most celebrated announcers, is asking his 268,000 Twitter followers to send him short videos for him to add mock commentary.

One of Buck's most popular is a clip of chicken wings being grilled while he says: "Look at this. They were already hot coming out. They're back on the grill. 

"The sauce is inside the bowl. Reaching back in. Wanting more. They keep coming out of that bowl. How many can you give us, Andrew? Unbelievable."

Summing up the desire for levity at such a worrying time, Buck told the Washington Post: "I didn't know that it would take off. That's where we are. I think people are starved for something along these lines."