Track Records

There’s an art to commentating on sport. In fact, such is the beauty of lines like “they think it’s all over” and “can Manchester United score, they always score” that they are as well and widely regarded as any pop lyrics.

To be a commentator you must be clear, concise, and most importantly, deliver a verdict and description at speed. But how do commentators compare to musicians when it comes to words spoken per minute (WPM)?

Welcome to Track Records…

Chart Battles

Is Martin Tyler spitting lyrics to rival Kanye? Perhaps Paul Dickenson is as adept at the Fandango as Freddie?

We’ve pulled together some of the most iconic commentary sequences in sport to explore just how those behind the microphone compare to some of the world’s biggest musicians…

Is there a more iconic goal than Maradona’s Goal of the Century? Tyler was holding the mic that day and such was the excitement of the Argentinian’s slaloming through the English defence, the Sky Sports legend was hitting a staggering 249 words per minute, just short of Kanye West and his 2008 hit Heartless.

Kanye West
Kanye West
279 WPM
Martin Tyler
Martin Tyler
249 WPM
279 WPM
249 WPM

Dickenson has long been a stalwart on the athletics scene, and it’s difficult to imagine an Olympics without him. He oversaw Usain Bolt’s famous 2012 Gold Medal runs in London reaching heights of 216 WPM, only slightly less than Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, widely considered one of the greatest vocals of all time.

Queen
Queen
228 WPM
Paul Dickenson
Paul Dickenson
216 WPM
228 WPM
216 WPM

It’s not often you’d put Cardi B in the same bracket as horse racing, but thanks to the work of legendary commentator Jim McGrath that’s exactly what we’re doing, with McGrath’s commentary style matching almost perfectly to Cardi B’s I Like It.

Cardi B
Cardi B
204 WPM
Jim McGrath
Jim McGrath
201 WPM
204 WPM
201 WPM

“Can Manchester United score? They always score?” It’s a line that will go down in history, but in those final few moments of stoppage time Clive Tyldesley was enthusing with all the same vigour of Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual. And of course, it really wasn’t unusual to see Manchester United claim a win in the dying seconds back then.

Tom Jones
Tom Jones
103 WPM
Clive Tyldesley
Clive Tyldesley
105 WPM
103 WPM
105 WPM

We wouldn’t usually say former England captain Nasser Hussain is a bit of a Dolly, although we’re sure he’s dropped plenty. However, that final over of the Cricket World Cup Final in 2019 not only sent fans across England wild, but also saw Nasser and Ian Smith duetting at a similar WPM to that of Kenny Rodgers and Dolly Parton hit Islands in the Stream.

Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
134 WPM
Ian Smith & Nasser Hussain
Ian Smith & Nasser Hussain
149 WPM
134 WPM
149 WPM

Round 12 of Tyson Fury’s fight with Deontay Wilder will go down as one of the most remarkable rounds in the sport’s history. John Rawlings has long been the voice of boxing in the UK and that round of three minutes proved to be akin to Beyonce and Single Ladies.

Beyonce
Beyonce
118 WPM
John Rawlings
John Rawlings
122 WPM
118 WPM
122 WPM

Commentators vs. Musicians: On The Scale

Taking snippets from some of sport’s finest commentators in action, we’ve analysed just how the quickly they vocalise, comparing not only across different sports but against some of the world’s most well-known musicians.

Explore the table below and click the icons to play the commentary analysed.

This section uses audio, click on a person to listen.
Words per minute
Speaking
Speaking
Music
Music
Football
Football
Athletics
Athletics
Horse Racing
Horse Racing
F1
F1
Indycar
Indycar
Cricket
Cricket
Boxing
Boxing
0
100
200
300
Average conversation CNN
Frank Sinatra Bob Dylan Danny & Sandy (Grease) Britney Spears Tom Jones Sonny & Cher Lewis Capaldi Beyonce Pat Benatar Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton Ed Sheeran Proclaimers Rod Stewart Run DMC & Aerosmith Lady Gaga Cardi B Queen Kanye West
Kenneth Wolstenholme Clive Tyldesley Martin Tyler Argentinian Commentary Martin Tyler
Paul Dickenson Paul Dickenson
Jerry Hannon N/A N/A Larry Collmus Peter O’Sullevan N/A Richard Hoiles Jim McGrath
James Allen Murray Walker James Hunt Martin Brundle
Ben Edwards
Ian Smith & Nasser Hussain
John Rawlings

The Speed Of Sport

Find a sport-by-sport breakdown of the fastest commentary speeds below. Despite Martin Tyler offering up the fastest commentary of our famous sporting moments, it’s athletics commentators which prove to be the fastest. Perhaps no surprise when they have to keep up with the likes of Usain Bolt!

Speaking type
Average WPM
Athletics
211
Horse Racing
177
F1
173
Speaking
150
Cricket
149
Football
146
Boxing
122
Event
Commentator
WPM
Maradona Goal of the Century 1986
Martin Tyler
249
Maradona Goal of the Century 1986
Argentinian Commentary
154
Manchester City clinch title in 2012
Martin Tyler
122
1999 Champions League Final
Clive Tyldsley
105
England 1966 World Cup win
Kenneth Wolstenholme
98
Event
Commentator
WPM
Suzuka Japan 1999
Martin Brundle
193
Argentine GP 1981
James Hunt
184
Austrian GP 1998
Murray Walker
171
Montoya Qualifying 2003
James Allen
146
Event
Commentator
WPM
Ascot 2013 - The ‘Croc’ Handicap
Jim McGrath
201
Grand National 2019
Richard Hoiles
190
Investec Derby 2020
N/A
185
1993 Grand National
Peter O’Sullevan
174
Kentucky Derby 2020
Larry Collmus
173
The Everest 2020
N/A
166
Melbourne Cup 2020
N/A
166
2019 Paddy Power Chase, Leopardstown
Jerry Hannon
162