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…
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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!