Daniel Austin, Combat sports commentator
Combat sports commentator / Daniel Austin

Looking at the definition of the word “conversation”, the key thing you need to focus on is how many people are involved. A conversation only involving one person is generally not regarded as normal.

Being a professional combat sports commentator, I have to ask myself if what I do for a living is not borderline insanity.

Am I Crazy

A memory comes to my mind of a 60-ish year old, bright red-haired women sitting on the back of a Warsaw public bus, wildly gesticulating, having a lovely, sometimes diplomatic, sometimes passionate conversation. As I sat down in her vicinity, I first thought she was talking to me, but upon closer observation, there was no one else around her and she wasn’t even looking at me.

Was she crazy? Was she hallucinating that there was someone by her and was acting out the conversation? Was she on drugs? Was I on hidden camera? In preparation for this blog, I looked into if talking to yourself means you’re crazy, and it turns out that if you do it, it’s perfectly okay, unless you’re actually hallucinating voices or visual images.

What is a Commentator

But what about me? I mean, when it comes right down to it, what is my job? What do I actually do? When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I’m a commentator and that usually suffices, but if they need more of an explanation, I tell them that I’m the voice they hear when they are watching a boxing match, for example.

The thing different about my commentary, is that ninety-nine times out of a hundred I’m working alone. In fact, since I started this job in 2010, I must have commentated hundreds of times on thousands of fights and in that time I’ve only worked with a partner on a handful of occasions.

The majority of the time it’s just me sitting in a small recording studio looking at a TV and speaking into a microphone. Other times I’m at ringside, but again by myself. In Europe, especially Central and Eastern Europe, there aren’t many native English-speaking combat sports commentators, so I’m usually doing it solo.

By Myself, Not To Myself:¬†However, what I’m doing cannot be considered insanity as I’m not hallucinating. In fact, I’m not actually even talking to myself. I’m talking, but to an audience, a television audience. The awkward part is that this audience is not in the same place as I am and many times they are not listening at the same time I’m actually doing the talking. So technically it’s not talking “to yourself”. I think it’s more of talking “by yourself”. If you do something “by yourself”, you’re doing it with no one else around or without any help.

The Tricky Part:¬†One of the keys to solo commentary is the ability to have a conversation with someone who is not there. You have to imagine that there is someone, somewhere, watching this fight and that they are listening to you. I try to do my commentary in a slightly personal way so that the listener almost feels as if I’m talking to them.

Podcasting

2018 has been my busiest year to date with commentary, which is why I haven’t been producing as many episodes of The FightBox Podcast lately. But podcasting is another strange communication forum.

First of all, a lot of the interviews I conducted in the over 150 episodes of the show were conducted with people I’ve never met before, over Skype or on the phone without actually seeing the person. It’s also strange talking into a microphone and recording a show that will later be downloaded and listened to by other people, most of whom I’ve also never met. It gets a little more personal when people leave a comment or some feedback about the show, but it’s still a bit removed.

Life in 2018

I guess what this whole blog is about is the fact that communication in 2018 is so much different than it used to be when I was a kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. Although I’m by no means an old man, kids today don’t realize this, but when I was a kid and I wanted to know if my friends wanted to hang out, the only way to find out was to actually go over to their house, knock on the door and ask if they were home.

In today’s world we have so many means of communication, but spend less time together. Many times we’re all physically present in the same place, but spend more time looking at our phones than looking at each other. We can communicate with another person or a massive audience without even being in the same place. Your listeners or viewers can choose when and where they want to listen to you and respond when it suits them, or in real time. We can play video games where our avatars are interacting in a virtual world in real time.

Even as I sit here now, in this coffee shop at the Warsaw airport during a seven hour layover, after doing commentary for two events this weekend, I continue to communicate my internal monologue in written form (which is more normal than vocalizing) to an unknown audience.

I’m sleep-deprived, feeling slightly philosophical, slightly mad, slightly nostalgic and pondering just how strange we highly evolved apes communicate to one another. I love my job. You have to be a special sort of crazy to do it.

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