According to Wikipedia, A color commentator is a sports commentator who assists the play-by-play announcer, often by filling in any time when play is not in progress. The color commentator provides expert analysis and background information, such as statistics, strategy and injury reports on the teams and athletes, and occasionally anecdotes or light humor.
After a nice weekend at home, my dad and I headed over to Champaign tonight to watch our respective Alma maters in a sloppy but entertaining Big Ten face off. As I drove back to the city to the smooth sounds of puppy snores and sleet on the windshield, I thought about the experiences my dad and I have shared through sport over the years and how much it has impacted who I am today.
If you’ve ever attended a sporting event with my father, mentioned an athlete in small talk or sat in the same room with him where a television may or may not have been showing something sports-related, whether you like it or not you’re going to come away with more stats and anecdotes about the players, teams, coaches and refs and their wives than you ever thought you needed or wanted to know.
Growing up in our house, breakfast consisted of Cheerios and a serving of Illinois High School mascot trivia followed by a brief literacy exercise of newspaper box scores and a dinner date at Lanphier Park for some color commentary on how well the “Baby Birds” were handling ground balls this season.
I am the daughter of a sports fan. A former athlete and intramural league champion. A journalist.
Sports were his thing, so it’s only natural that they quickly became mine too. Sports were our thing. And they still are today.
Now don’t get me wrong I spent my fair share of time stealing my sister’s Strawberry Shortcake and sabotaging her lemonade stands growing up, but some of my fondest childhood memories were spent with my dad, seeking out remote soccer complexes, shagging balls at volleyball practice and learning the difference between a frozen rope and a Texas Leaguer.
And when it came time for me to take on sports as an extracurricular, his enthusiasm reached a new level. A red, a white AND a blue gumball after each high school basketball game, mink oil and newspaper treatment immediately following a rainy soccer game and an ice cream cone for every head ball until the fear subsided and the parlor couldn’t keep up. He was never one to be exclusive either. When my sister and I’s college teams met in the annual Braggin’ Rights game, he made sure to show his support for all involved parties, donning Michigan attire accented with an Illini hat and a tail of Tiger, or similar adaptation as we moved up in class.
I owe a lot of my sports knowledge to my father. I should probably give him credit for teaching me to sound cool in front of boys all these years as well. But there’s still time for that.
I was reminded tonight as I watched him put on his Michigan windbreaker over an already-layered blue shirt and maize sweater only to walk into a sea of orange, how fortunate I have been to grow up with a dad who let me share in his passion for sport and the positive effect that comes with it. How lucky I am to live in a family where the commentary always has color.