Play-by-Play Commentary

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional-Wisconsin vs Baylor If you watch sports of TV, you will understand some of these references. If you don’t, I will explain. In most televised sporting events, there are two main sportscaster, or announcers. One is the “Play-by-Play Announcer,” and the other is referred to as the “Color Commentator.”

The Play-by-Play Announcer is the guy who effectively narrates the game as it unfolds. Listening to sports on the radio is already terrible, but svn worse if you don’t have a good play-by-play announcer. The play-by-play guy keeps track of the score, who is doing what, fouls, time, etc., so you always know what is happening, as it unfolds. (Think Al Michaels, Marv Alberts, Brent Musberger, etc.)

The Color Commentator is usually an ex-player of coach who brings their personal insight into the broadcast, helping the viewer to better understand the game, and the people involved. They tend to interject stories or comments that do not interrupt the flow of the game, in order to make the broadcast more interesting. They can also range from very interesting to really irritating. (Think John Madden. Doug Collins, Jeff Van Gundy) Together, they can make broadcasts both more informative and more interesting. I know some people who would rather watch a game on TV than attend in person, because they miss the narrative and the replay.

Why am I rambling on about sports broadcasting? Because I noticed a parallel yesterday. But, as I often do, I yet need to explain something else before I get to the main point.

I have noticed that in much of our conversation (both in real life and online) we tend to lean more towards “color commentary” than we do “play-by-play commentary.” This is undoubtably a good thing, because play-by-play commentary of most of our lives proves painfully boring, as proved by so many people on Facebook each and every day.

So we stick with the “color” in our lives. The good, the new the different, the funny, the entertaining, and that is how we present ourselves. And that is OK, as long as other people don’t misunderstand and think that what we consider “color” is actually what other’s think our “play-by-play” must be.

Last night, My EC and I were stuck in traffic as we were leaving the Riverwalk in San Antonio. There were so many people walking past – and plenty of wacky people. I have always enjoyed people watching, and I began to point out people to my EC that I thought were funny: The ladies attempting to walk normally in their heels, the angry parents, the fashionably slovenly guys roaming in packs, the couple who had a bit too much to drink, the required crazy street performer, etc. I was adding “Color Commentary” to a boring situation, and having a good laugh at the expense of others.

After a few minutes of this, the traffic started to roll, and we were on our way. Then I started to thinking. (I haven’t talked to my EC about this yet, so honey, this is why I was kinda quiet on the drive back last night.) My “Color Commentary” was, and usually is, snarky, judgmental, and really pretty funny. And maybe kinda mean. I started wondering if I was capable of sitting in the exact same situation and noticing things like that cute family being together, or the couple holding hands, or the skill of the street performer, etc.

In all honesty, the “Color Commentary” was really just a filtered version of the Play-by-Play broadcast that was running through my head. I would just spout a portion of what I was seeing and thinking in order to get a laugh and kill time. It made me feel sad as I thought it through.

A little bit sad that I was cracking jokes and making fun of people, but a lot sad that the internal Play-by-Play broadcast in my mind was focused on those things. (Think for a moment of a basketball announcer who only mentioned the missed shots – are you with me?)

The Color Commentary was an accurate reflection of the Play-by-Play that I was thinking. Why isn’t my internal Play-by-Play Commentary more…”elevated?” Even if I keep it to myself, I am still thinking less than elevated things about other people.

“If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (link) Duh.

That is the goal, right? That is what we seek after, but there are times when we see the negative first, as if that is our default position. I do know some really good-hearted people who seem to be wired the complete opposite  they look for the good in everyone, and are quick to point it out. As is usually the case, a prophet has already said it much better than I:

“What I am suggesting is that each of us turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom we associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears. When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my father would say: “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.” President Gordon B. Hinckley. (Link)

It does permeate our society. The worst-dressed lists garner as much or more attention than the best-dressed lists. The failures are discussed as much as the successes.

What are we lacking that might help?

Charity, perhaps?

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”  (Moroni 7:45)

And how do we get more charity? By picking our arm every time we think something bad about someone? Nope – there is specific instruction on how to get more charity in our hearts:

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren (sisters too!), pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.” (Moroni 7:48)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be pure to a level where our thoughts are kind by default? That the Play-by-Play Commentary coursing through our brains could be uplifting? That way, when we share our “Color Commentary” with the world, it would be a true reflection of what is in our hearts and minds on a regular basis, not merely finding a diamond in a pile of coal.

It is possible that I have overshared my own self-reflection, if so, I apologize. I know there are those of you who do not struggle with being snarky, judgmental or unkind, and goodness just seeps out of you. You have my admiration and respect. Then there are the rest of us who need to strive to that charitable state. MMM logo small

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  1. Just fyi I am the anti-wordsmith and this is all I was trying to say about the “immodest girls at the theater” comment a million years ago on your fb wall…that turned into a bunch of us getting labeled “immodest apologists.” I can so often count on this blog to be uplifting (as today) I merely meant that it was a pretty negative way to look at the world and people we don’t know and positive glasses could have turned that into a bigger life lesson. So, I love this post.

  2. It would seem you were in tune with our speaker yesterday (or he with you), as he said we need to pause before speaking in order to arrange our speech so that it edifies. So I’m trying it out this week. Modify to Edify.

  3. I’ve been using the Moroni 7:48 scripture for about 4 years to gain a greater understanding of a particularly difficult person I work with. It’s been a phenomenal experience to see him as God sees him. This formula works.
    Just last week I was fuming (murmuring) over an email he sent. After I vented to my EC, I prayed to be rid of the anger I was allowing to cloud my judgement, and the effect was that I almost immediately felt compassion and understanding for his difficult personality well up in me. I know it wasn’t me, it was the love of out Father and the Savior that made the change in my attitude. I was able to answer the email with an uncharacteristic amount of gratitude which elicited a kind and thoughtful response. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the spirit I felt during the exchange.

  4. At Stake Conference today I caught myself playing fashion critic. In my home ward I know most of the people well enough to think of them as full personalities who are far too complex for easy analysis. Confronted by a crop of mostly unfamiliar people I fell back on simplistic judgements of surface appearances. I did catch myself and felt regret. Afterwards I cast a kinder eye on the congregation.

  5. That moo you hear is my ox being gored. My filter works pretty well. I’m still working on replacing the inner snark with charitable thoughts until my natural woman gives up snarkiness altogether. Thankfully, the women in my family live a very long time…

  6. I’m a local politician so I really have to watch my mouth. I always manage to be kind and friendly to everyone and have been complimented many times on that. But what I’m THINKING is frequently “snarky, judgmental and unkind”. My family and close associates think I’m hilarious sometimes. Perhaps being a “fast thinking comedian” is a talent we both have but need to use in a better manner.

  7. I’ve been working with this recently myself. Started singing the old Primary song “I want to be kind to everyone” When I’m driving, the kids are laughing cuz I don’t stop singing

  8. Spot on, as usual. Being nicer and less judgmental is one of my goals for this year.

  9. Awesome post! I try to see the good in situations and people, I am an eternal optimist. I admit though with certain situations and people in life it is more of a challenge but if we try and keep trying we usually can find the positive and good. I love the parallels that you draw I never would have thought of this sort of thing as a “play by play” your a good writer you have the ability to relate deep concepts in a simple and easily understandable way…thanks for sharing this!

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