Thursday, December 1, 2016

Centimetre Perfect

TV commentator Dennis Cometti retired from calling AFL games at the close of the 2016 season. 

He's been a staple of Australian sports TV as well as Australian Rules Football telecasts for a long, long time. He was on the air for 17 Grand Finals, and had the mic as the siren sounded on the Western Bulldogs' first league title in 62 years at the end of the 2016 season. He broadcast his first game in 1971 and began his A-list TV career in 1986. 

His partnership with Bruce McAvaney is also the stuff of legend. They go back and forth seamlessly during a telecast. One knows when to jump in when the other stops, many times during the run of play. The Sydney/Western Bulldogs Grand Final was their 12th together.

Cometti also covered Olympic swimming in 1992, 1996, and 2000. He's delivered some signature moments at special times to generations of Australian sports fans, many of whom are the athletes themselves. 

There is a generation of AFL fans who don't know what the game is like without him. His past experience as a player and a coach added a lot of insight, and he started his on-air career in the early 70s when players didn't become on-air personalities like they do now.

As a new watcher of the game I sure found his high baritone voice helpful as he explained things more deeply. I know I always paid attention to what he said-- as much for how he said as for what he said. Centimetre perfect is one of his many signature one-liners. 

He's not completely stepping away from the game, just the travel. The man is 67 years old and says that part of things takes some of the fun out of it. I totally understand that, as it happens stateside a lot, especially in baseball when there is six months of travel involved. More veteran announcers will skip a road trip here and there to save some wear and tear on their bodies. 

Cometti says he'll sit in on some WAFL (Western Australia) broadcasts as a way of staying involved, perhaps injecting some commentary here and there. Perth is his hometown, so it makes a lot of sense since the league is based there. I guess once something is as much a part of you as footy is to Dennis, quitting cold turkey just doesn't make sense. I can't imagine he'll be too involved-- my thought is that he won't want to be the center of attention and to give others the same chance he got. 

Besides, the WAFL is where it all began for him, so this is a way of bringing it full circle.

The man sure has the respect of his peers and of his public.

Cheers, Dennis. And thanks.

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