Last Updated on July 10, 2022 by inckredible
Imagine watching sports without live commentary. It doesn’t sound like it’d be enjoyable, right? There’s something calming about watching a game and hearing familiar voices of announcers we know and love.
Sports broadcasters, also called commentators, have crucial roles that both augment and aid the action on the field. The play-by-play report on the field helps laymen in understanding the game and adds to their enjoyment.
Nowadays, commentators are often criticized by fans for being supposedly biased or not being good enough. But little do fans realize that becoming a professional broadcaster is the result of talent and dedication.
Of course, most broadcasters are former players themselves. But even so, commentating requires skill sets that are unique on their own. This is why not all former athletes end up becoming good broadcasters.
Times have fast changed, and so has the world of sports. The profession, which was once dominated by white people, now features a host of talented people from the Black community. With that in mind, here are 20 famous Black sports commentators who are great at doing what they do.
Top 20 Popular Black Sports Commentators
1. Stephen A. Smith
You can either love or hate Stephen, but there’s no in-between with him. Renowned in the NBA world for his often frank and provocative opinions, Stephen is an outspoken commentator.
He began his sports career reporting at the Winston-Salem Journal. Later, he worked at other media outlets like the Greensboro News and Record and the New York Daily News.
By his own admission, Stephen’s promotion in 2003 made him one of only twenty-one African Americans in the US with a general sports column.
Currently, Smith appears on ESPN’s First Take. He hosts the show in the company of Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim Rose. They spar verbally over major hot topics in sports and basketball in particular.
2. Shannon Sharpe
Shannon Sharpe is an American sports pundit. A former professional American footballer, he played in the National Football League (NFL). He represented the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens.
Sharpe first made the transition from the field to broadcasting in 2004 as a commentator for CBS Sports’ “The NFL Today.”
He appeared on pregame, halftime and post-game shows and served in that capacity for close to 10 years. Currently, Sharpe hosts Sirius NFL Radio’s Opening Drive morning program alongside Bob Papa.
Sharpe has been a social media staple since his broadcasting career began. Noted for his antics and fun commentary, he’s gone viral a number of times.
3. Michael Strahan
The famous American journalist and TV personality Strahan’s a former professional American football player.
Even before he had left the game, there were general beliefs around that Strahan had a great prospect in television. And rightly so, ever since he retired, he succeeded in becoming a credible media personality.
Following his retirement, he was first hired as an analyst with FOX Sports, appearing as a sports analyst on NFL Sunday. Later, he co-hosted the Good Morning America show for ABC.
In September 2012, he joined the morning TV program Live! With Kelly and Michael.
4. Chris Kamara
Christopher “Kammy” Kamara works as an English presenter/commentator and analyst for Sky Sports. He is a former professional football player and manager. In total, he played over 650 professional football games.
After finishing his playing career, he had two spells as a manager at Bradford City and Stoke City.
After his spell in management, a career in the broadcasting media followed. Kammy can be seen weekly presenting Sky Sports’ Goals On Sunday show. He also provides additional commentary on some of Sky’s televised matches.
He is well-known for his highly excitable nature and propensity for comical gaffes. Additionally, he has a tendency to come up with unusual sayings that leave his co-hosts and other pundits baffled, to say the least.
5. Michael Holding
Michael Anthony Holding is a renowned name in the world of cricket. During his professional career, he was widely regarded as one of the greatest pace bowlers in history.
Although he never aspired to become a commentator, an invitation from a friend who worked at Radio Jamaica proved to be a turning point. And though this led to him intermittently working as a broadcaster around the Caribbean, work was never regular enough.
During the early 90s, Holding made his transition from radio commentator to television media. Since then, he has become a regular broadcaster for Sky Sports.
6. Donna Symonds
Donna Symonds was one of the first women commentators in cricket. She is of Barbadian origin and has remained associated with sports from as far back as the mid-80s.
Her first role as a commentator came in 1985 while covering a tennis tournament for a local radio station. Her work there managed to catch the attention of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. They offered her the opportunity to cover a cricket match.
Other major avenues opened up, and she soon found herself covering the West Indies cricket team.
Her other major commentary stints include providing commentary for the 1999 Cricket World Cup. And then came the 2000 West Indian tour of England. She provides commentary for televised cricket as well as live radio.
7. Kenny Smith
Smith is now an American sports commentator and a former NBA professional player. During his professional career, which spanned from 1987 to 1997, he represented a number of teams.
His major achievement as an athlete was winning the NBA championship. He achieved this back-to-back with Houston Rockets alongside Hakeem Olajuwon.
Smith entered the broadcasting field in 1998. He joined Turner Sports, working as an analyst for the playoffs and the end of the NBA regular season.
Currently, Kenny works for Yahoo Sports as an NBA expert.
8. Michael Irvin
Michael Irvin is an American sports commentator for the NFL. He was once a former player himself, playing in the role of wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys.
Playing college football at Miami University, he was picked by the Cowboys in the 1988 Draft in the first round.
He had spent his entire career of 12-years in the same team. However, a spinal cord injury in 1999 ended his career somewhat prematurely.
Since retirement, he has had stints as a broadcaster for ESPN’s NFL Countdown and now currently works as an analyst for NFL Network. Aside from his broadcasting career, he has also made appearances in movies and shows.
9. Jalen Rose
Currently a sports broadcaster/analyst, Jalen Rose is a former professional NBA basketball player. His professional career spanned for a number of years, during which he played as a small forward for six teams.
Since retirement in 2007, he has worked at ABC/ESPN. His first role was as a sports analyst for SportsCenter. Later in 2012, he became one of the hosts for NBA Countdown.
Rose also has a multi-platform partnership with the New York Post. He hosts podcasts and a weekly column under the name Renaissance Man.
As of 2021, he co-hosts Jalen & Jacoby with David Jacoby, a national US sports radio show on ESPN Radio.
10. Chris Broussard
Unlike most of the other personalities on this list, Chris Broussard is not a former athlete. He is a sports commentator and analyst for Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports Radio.
As a New York Times NBA reporter working from 1998-2004, Chris managed to achieve the national limelight.
He has worked for other major media outlets such as ESPN.com and The Magazine. Chris also has made appearances on NBA Countdown, ESPN’s SportsCenter, and NBA Fastbreak as an analyst.
Aside from his association with FOX Sports, Chris collaborated with Rob Parker for FOX Sports Radio. Combining credible storytelling with unique opinions, the duo continues to entertain and inform their viewers of all the major happenings in the sports world.
11. James Brown
One of the most popular names in American sports broadcasting is that of James Brown. His career started during the 70s, and since then has credits for being the studio host of The James Brown Show.
Other major features include the NFL Today and Thursday Night Football on CBS Sports and NFL Network.
Brown started broadcasting sports full-time in 1984. He was first offered the role of CBS’s NBA analyst and managing the Washington Bullets TV broadcasts as well.
He changed networks in between when from 1994–1998 he became the lead studio host for FOX NHL Saturday. After working 11 years for FOX, he rejoined the CBS network.
12. Art Rust Jr.
No broadcasting list will ever be complete without mentioning Art Rust Jr. Considered to be the father of radio talk shows, Rust Jr. was a pioneering figure in New York radio sports talk shows.
Successful as a sports broadcaster for half a century, he was also a noted author and sports historian.
His career began in 1967 when he landed a position as a sports announcer for NBC. Six years later, after working in the television medium, he returned to radio. He was a regular commentator for WINS radio during this time.
He signed on with WABC in 1981 for the “Sportstalk” show, during which he interviewed famous sports personalities.
Rust worked with New York’s WBLS Radio till 1994, after which the last few years of his career remained marked by selective appearances.
13. Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts is an American television broadcaster. Using a combination of athletic talent and journalistic skill, Robin began as a sports reporter in Mississippi.
She rose to national prominence in the 1990s as a host of ESPN’s ‘Sportscenter.’ During the same time, she was also a guest reporter on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America.’
After years of working for both ESPN and Good Morning America, Roberts became a full-time co-anchor of the morning news program.
In 2014 Robin got included as one of ESPNW’s Impact 25. Later, she was also inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2016.
14. Sage Steele
Hers is a renowned name in the world of sports broadcasting. From 1997-98, Steele worked as a weekday reporter and morning sports anchor for WISH-TV, a CBS affiliate.
She started hosting SportsCentre on ESPN full-time and had several NBA assignments, ending only as recently as 2017.
Steele has the distinction of hosting the NBA Finals in 2012-13 for SportsCenter. She hosted all the Finals from 2012-20.
Other achievements include co-hosting the 2017-18 Miss America event with Chris Harrison. Additionally, she hosted the Scripps National Spelling Bee from 2010 to 2013.
15. Curt Menefee
Curt Menefee is a prominent name in sports broadcasting, known for having associations with multiple sports. Before joining FOX Sports full-time, he worked for small outlets, filling roles as sports host and reporter.
When he joined FOX in 1997, he was a sideline reporter until moving to play-by-play for the network’s NFL Europe.
In 2010, he hosted FOX’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League Finals, the first ever to be broadcast in the United States. Additionally, he was also the host of UFC on Fox.
Currently, he is the official play-by-play commentator for Seattle Seahawks preseason football and XFL on FOX.
16. Pam Oliver
Another prominent name on our list is Pam Oliver, a noted broadcaster for NBA and NFL games both. Oliver joined ESPN in 1993 as a sports anchor, working on the sidelines of many professional games.
Later in 1995, she joined FOX Sports and continued conducting pre and post-game interviews and in-game analysis.
Aside from her role as a sports broadcaster, Oliver is also known for having created feature programs. She highlights the human side of sports.
She provides wonderful insights into the athletes’ professional lives. For her contributions, she was in 2004 awarded the Ebony Outstanding Woman in Journalism.
17. Seb Hutchinson
Seb Hutchinson is a relatively unknown name on the list. But the now freelance commentator happens to be the voice behind some of the world’s biggest sporting events.
After a Master’s in Sports Journalism, he joined ITV. His first job was working on the Rugby World Cup in France in 2007.
Again in 2010, he worked on the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League.
He left ITV to pursue freelance commentary. Since then has gone on to work on the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Paris, Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, Rio, and Tokyo.
18. Cherry Miller
Cheryl Miller is a former NBA player who is well-known for popularizing the women’s game and helping it reach a higher level. After retirement, a successful career in sports broadcasting followed.
She began in 1987 as an ABC reporter for Wide World of Sports and a commentator for the network’s college basketball telecasts.
Then, she joined Turner Sports in 1995 as an analyst and sideline reporter for the NBA on TBS and TNT.
Miller had also worked as a Basketball Commentator at the 1994 Goodwill Games. She is the sister of men’s basketball legend Reggie Miller.
19. Ian Wright
Ian Wright is a footballing legend for Arsenal and England. And since retirement, he’s gone on to create a name as a television and radio personality as well.
Wright began as a pundit on BBC Sport and continues to be one of the lead studio analysts/pundits. He is regularly working with Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer.
In 2013, Wright joined BT Sport, providing coverage as a studio analyst for the Premier League, FA Cup and the UEFA Leagues.
As for television, ITV signed him to present his own chat show, Friday Night’s All Wright. He interviewed major celebrities. Additionally, he has also been featured on major reality shows in the UK.
20. Ducis Rodgers
Ducis Rodgers is a well-known American sports broadcaster. He began his professional career as a WDEF-TV reporter in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
His next stint was at WCBS-TV as a sports director from 2003 to 2009. During these years, Ducis spent several years as a host of the ESPN Sportscenter and Outside the Lines.
He was a play-by-play announcer for the NCAA Baseball Regionals and also had gigs on ESPN First Take. His achievements in the field include covering Super Bowls and World Series.
In 2012, Ducis joined the Action News sports team, where he is the official announcer.
With that said, we come to the end of our list of the 20 Famous Black Sports Commentators. Although often underappreciated, broadcasters and commentators are important people. They make the experience of watching sports on television second to none.
A good broadcaster uses the game as a canvas to paint the picture by meticulously describing live events. This is huge as it makes quite the difference between a fan turning a game off or staying tuned.
Over time fans grow close to their team’s announcers and end up loving them just as much as the athletes, if not more so.
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