Diary of a commentator

Well, I should be commentating on Barcelona vs. Stuttgart right now, but for the second day in a row, I'm getting paid to do no commentary. Yesterday was a weather issue; today was a technical one, as my lack of "reflexive connectivity" through my internet (whatever that means) made it impossible for me to get anything like a stable feed from the venue, no matter what the remote engineers tried. This was an attempt to commentate off of my laptop at home using the Spalk platform, rather than via a flypack as I've done on tennis and basketball commentaries routed through DAZN - try as they might, Spalk's engineers couldn't figure out a way to fix the problem, so with the game already well into the second quarter, we had to give up.

The funny part was that I didn't have a stats feed from the game, or even a live score, so for a long time I really had no way of knowing if the game was taking place. I've had a number of existential crises in this job, but this was among the deepest - if a game is taking place in the forest, and nobody is there to see it or commentate on it, does it make a sound?
 

richgedman'sghost

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Well, I should be commentating on Barcelona vs. Stuttgart right now, but for the second day in a row, I'm getting paid to do no commentary. Yesterday was a weather issue; today was a technical one, as my lack of "reflexive connectivity" through my internet (whatever that means) made it impossible for me to get anything like a stable feed from the venue, no matter what the remote engineers tried. This was an attempt to commentate off of my laptop at home using the Spalk platform, rather than via a flypack as I've done on tennis and basketball commentaries routed through DAZN - try as they might, Spalk's engineers couldn't figure out a way to fix the problem, so with the game already well into the second quarter, we had to give up.

The funny part was that I didn't have a stats feed from the game, or even a live score, so for a long time I really had no way of knowing if the game was taking place. I've had a number of existential crises in this job, but this was among the deepest - if a game is taking place in the forest, and nobody is there to see it or commentate on it, does it make a sound?
It's kinda ironic that you mention the European League of American Football in general and the Stuttgart Surge in particular. The New York Daily News happened to have a back page story about the League in Sundays paper . The Giants have an allocated player from that league (similar to how the Pats got that fullback Johnson a few years ago) and the Daily News profiled him and the league.
 
It's kinda ironic that you mention the European League of American Football in general and the Stuttgart Surge in particular. The New York Daily News happened to have a back page story about the League in Sundays paper . The Giants have an allocated player from that league (similar to how the Pats got that fullback Johnson a few years ago) and the Daily News profiled him and the league.
Apparently I missed a great game - finished 21-17 for Stuttgart, with them getting a late TD drive to go ahead with about three minutes to go and then sacking Barcelona's QB twice on their final drive. From the little I could see and hear of the broadcast, it sounded like there was a good atmosphere in the Spanish crowd as well...really gutted to have missed out.

Meanwhile, I'm back in Leeds today, in the studio wearing my Trae Young jersey t-shirt, and am scheduled to commentate on just the Harriet Dart vs. Elena Rybakina match on Court 1 in Eastbourne. I was very distracted by the US Open on TV last night, so my prep work took maybe twice as long as it normally would have done, and then I was distracted by the Hawks-Sixers game this morning on delay, so I'm more tired than I might have been (but elation from the result cancels most of that out). So I'm ready, but I'm not sure Eastbourne is: there's another very rainy day in prospect, and it looks like play won't begin much earlier than 5 p.m. if at all. So here I am again, waiting and now rewatching the basketball from last night...
 
Another total washout - all play at Eastbourne cancelled for today. So that's three of the last four days I've now been paid to not commentate. (I'm still hanging around the studio, waiting for tomorrow's order of play to see if my next move will be to drive back to Scotland or book a new hotel room for tonight...)
 

tmracht

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Man you cannot catch a weather related break :) At least you get to bask in Trae young going full super saiyan while you figure out your next move.
 
I waited more than an hour after play was called for the day before the order of play for tomorrow came out, and then more than another after that before Producer Chloe confirmed that I do have an assignment for tomorrow...but it's not world feed, and required me to prep for two fresh matches - out on Court 4, no less. The good news is that I get to call Bianca Andreescu tomorrow (against Christina McHale), and then Ons Jabeur - last week's Birmingham winner - against Marketa Vondrousova. But I had to book a hotel room more than 15 miles away and have discovered it's in the middle of a big industrial estate, and it's cold and I feel very much alone right now. And after a huge Five Guys burger and fries for dinner, my body is very much rebelling against the way I'm treating it at the moment. Sigh...this is the glamorous side of sports commentary, right here.
 
No toilet?

I hope you can get exercise in the hallways at least
I assume there's a toilet around the corner of the photo - but I don't think I'm supposed to be allowed into the hallways. I'm planning on bringing my virtual reality headset with me and will try to do some fitness stuff on that, but there's really only so much I can do.

Meanwhile, play has been delayed again at Eastbourne this morning - really hoping to be done and back home in time for the Scotland-Croatia match tonight, but that's beginning to seem unlikely. (First match is now scheduled to start at 1:30; I'd need to be done by 5:00 to have any chance of making it home by 8:00.)
 

atisha

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Thank you for this thread. I have been following it from the beginning, as it is about a career I had fancied myself (got to call some basketball games on local TV here in Romania and got involved in promoting baseball and cricket when they were broadcasted on Eurosport some years ago).

I suppose we will be hearing you on Eurosport Player during the Olympics, as they plan to offer feeds for all the events and I doubt they have their own guys for every sport.

DAZN in Romania is offering only boxing (Matchroom and Golden Boy), but I would love to see them boost the subscription with some KHL, for instance.
 
Thank you for this thread. I have been following it from the beginning, as it is about a career I had fancied myself (got to call some basketball games on local TV here in Romania and got involved in promoting baseball and cricket when they were broadcasted on Eurosport some years ago).

I suppose we will be hearing you on Eurosport Player during the Olympics, as they plan to offer feeds for all the events and I doubt they have their own guys for every sport.

DAZN in Romania is offering only boxing (Matchroom and Golden Boy), but I would love to see them boost the subscription with some KHL, for instance.
Hey, thanks for checking in! Yes, you will almost certainly be hearing me on the Olympics - in fact, I actually have the great honor of calling the very first sporting action taking place at the Olympics, which is the softball game between Japan and Australia on the morning of Wednesday, July 21. (The football tournaments kick off that day as well, but later on in the day.) At this point I'm kinda dreading the Olympic experience I'm going to have, but that moment at least will be particularly exciting for me.
 

StupendousMan

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By the way, my Olympic travel arrangements have finally been sorted. I'm flying to Tokyo on July 13, fully eight days before the first softball game is taking place, and staying in this hotel room - probably under quarantine instructions not to leave the room for at least five days:

View attachment 42098

So, um...yeah.
Looks like you'll have a standard tea-kettle-style water heater and mini-fridge. Plan on eating a lot of food which can be reconstituted with boiling water (yes, that means instant ramen, but there are other options as well: oatmeal, if you can find it, for example). I suspect that you'll be given some sort of "shopping list" for items that some staff members will purchase for you and deliver to the room. Ask if you can look at this list in advance, before you head to Tokyo. It might help you to plan. If you can order take-out from restaurants on the block, your dinners and possibly lunches should be pretty good.

The bathroom is probably one of the standard tiny extruded-plastic prefabricated rooms, about 4x4 feet, with small tub, sink, toilet. If you're lucky, the tub will be deep enough that you can soak in it like a very, very small onsen.

Try to find out exactly what sort of electrical outlets are present in the room. You may need to use an adapter to charge your devices, and it would be handy to purchase the right sort before you go.
 

tmracht

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Yes adapters are clutch. Do you have a plan for a burner sim card? They're clutch in case the wifi stinks.
 

StupendousMan

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Ah, that reminds me. There are a number of companies in the Narita Airport which will rent you a SIM card and/or phone which provides a "pocket wifi" you can carry with you. That might be a good idea as a backup in case something happens to the hotel's wifi, as tmracht suggests. Just run a search on "Narita Airport wifi pocket".
 

CodPiece XL

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By the way, my Olympic travel arrangements have finally been sorted. I'm flying to Tokyo on July 13, fully eight days before the first softball game is taking place, and staying in this hotel room - probably under quarantine instructions not to leave the room for at least five days:

View attachment 42098

So, um...yeah.
You couldn’t pay me enough to stay in a room that small. Just wow.
 

CodPiece XL

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I lived in one of those when I was working outside Matsuyama, it's definitely a different life. My feet dangled off the bed, but the food was excellent.
I don’t think I could do it. Or I’d have to get really drunk and stay that way. And quarantine is involved initially? Holy smokes.
 

cgori

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Ah, that reminds me. There are a number of companies in the Narita Airport which will rent you a SIM card and/or phone which provides a "pocket wifi" you can carry with you. That might be a good idea as a backup in case something happens to the hotel's wifi, as tmracht suggests. Just run a search on "Narita Airport wifi pocket".
I have stayed in almost exactly that room in several small towns in Japan, it brings back memories. @StupendousMan has described the likely bathroom setup to a T. It will almost certainly be raised 3-6 inches off the floor of the rest of the room (try not to stub your toes first thing in the morning, wonder how I know about that!), and have 3 built-in pump dispensers for hand soap, body wash, and shampoo. There will be individually wrapped plastic bags with almost all toiletry items you could want (toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, shaving cream, sewing kit, and so on), this is very typical for Japan.

As far as the Mifi/PocketWifi - having had one on the last trip to Japan I took in 2017 where I was going all over the country, I would get this regardless of how optimistic you are about the hotel WiFi. The one I used was https://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/ - they were able to pre-deliver to my hotel front desk based on my request, and I just picked it up there when I checked into the hotel. If your arrival time is within ~normal business hours (mine wasn't) you can also pick up at the airport from a kiosk they have staffed there. Getting a disposable SIM in Japan was (is?) semi-annoying from my recollection, they want a Japan-based address to register you to, so the pocket wifi is much easier.

Japan uses the same electrical plugs as the US - but most of the time only has 2-prong (no ground). If your devices are 3-prong you will need to find a solution. I like powering things everything but my laptop off of one medium-size USB battery and then just finding a way to charge that and the laptop overnight. I imagine most of your devices use the UK plugs, and I think almost all of them have grounds now.

As long as you can get food from outside (or even maybe from the hotel canteen), you will eat quite well, assuming you are not a super-picky eater. The food in Japan is almost uniformly high-quality, if sometimes a little different than your normal fare. There may also be beers in that mini-fridge.
 
I have successfully commentated on my first football game! The Cologne Centurions, in their first ELF home game, defeated the Barcelona Dragons 40-12...although that barely begins to tell the full story. Cologne was only up 7-0 when they got the ball back deep in their territory with 1:06 to go in the first half, and given the lack of offense I assumed they'd probably run the ball a few times and go into the locker room; instead they drove down the field and connected on a 35-yard TD pass to Quinton Pounds - who played for Washington in their CFP semifinal against Alabama - with six seconds left. Barcelona scored on their first possession of the second half to make it 14-6 (went for two and didn't get it), but then Madre London, who spent three years at Michigan State before transferring to Tennessee, just took over. It was man against boys; he had three long TD runs, and a week after he ran for 269 yards in their loss to Wroclaw, I think he went for 300+ yards today. Toward the end of his 65-yard TD in the third quarter, he just threw off one of the Barcelona defenders, Beast Mode style, and not only did I bring up Marshawn Lynch's famous run against the Saints, I actually channelled Mike Mayock's famous "GET OFF ME!" call in describing the replay.

No technical issues today, thankfully; picture was a little blurry (not super HD), but quite manageable. The weirdest part of the experience was trying to channel football vocabulary I haven't heard used on TV since February; normally, e.g., before I call an international basketball game after a long time between games I can watch an NBA game or at least fire up a basketball podcast to get me in the mood and start thinking about pick-and-rolls and mid-range jumpers, etc. Today, I referred (instinctively) to a "flanker screen" and almost had to stop and wonder from where in my subconscious that term had emerged. But I think it went OK; I wasn't perfect, but generally I like I how sound on the postgame replay, and I know how I'm going to reorganize the rosters and information I print out for next week in a way that should suit me better. I also have a slightly better idea about when a short advertising jingle might pop up in the middle of my commentary without warning - it was clearly a German TV production, and their ad style can be quite different to what we're used to in the US.
 

StupendousMan

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I have successfully commentated on my first football game! The Cologne Centurions, in their first ELF home game, defeated the Barcelona Dragons 40-12...although that barely begins to tell the full story. Cologne was only up 7-0 when they got the ball back deep in their territory with 1:06 to go in the first half, and given the lack of offense I assumed they'd probably run the ball a few times and go into the locker room; instead they drove down the field and connected on a 35-yard TD pass to Quinton Pounds - who played for Washington in their CFP semifinal against Alabama - with six seconds left. Barcelona scored on their first possession of the second half to make it 14-6 (went for two and didn't get it), but then Madre London, who spent three years at Michigan State before transferring to Tennessee, just took over. It was man against boys; he had three long TD runs, and a week after he ran for 269 yards in their loss to Wroclaw, I think he went for 300+ yards today. Toward the end of his 65-yard TD in the third quarter, he just threw off one of the Barcelona defenders, Beast Mode style, and not only did I bring up Marshawn Lynch's famous run against the Saints, I actually channelled Mike Mayock's famous "GET OFF ME!" call in describing the replay.

No technical issues today, thankfully; picture was a little blurry (not super HD), but quite manageable. The weirdest part of the experience was trying to channel football vocabulary I haven't heard used on TV since February; normally, e.g., before I call an international basketball game after a long time between games I can watch an NBA game or at least fire up a basketball podcast to get me in the mood and start thinking about pick-and-rolls and mid-range jumpers, etc. Today, I referred (instinctively) to a "flanker screen" and almost had to stop and wonder from where in my subconscious that term had emerged. But I think it went OK; I wasn't perfect, but generally I like I how sound on the postgame replay, and I know how I'm going to reorganize the rosters and information I print out for next week in a way that should suit me better. I also have a slightly better idea about when a short advertising jingle might pop up in the middle of my commentary without warning - it was clearly a German TV production, and their ad style can be quite different to what we're used to in the US.
Go to 3:35 in the link below to see that very nice "Beast Mode" run -- and hear the commentary.

https://cflnewshub.com/global/cologne-takes-their-home-opener-beats-barcelona-40-12/
 
Go to 3:35 in the link below to see that very nice "Beast Mode" run -- and hear the commentary.

https://cflnewshub.com/global/cologne-takes-their-home-opener-beats-barcelona-40-12/
Thanks for that! I didn't know the ELF was posting its highlights on YouTube - much easier to watch them there than on the official website. (Not really happy with the audio mix of the recording, but we'll sort that out for next time, hopefully.)

FWIW, I'm off on a short vacation to England with my family from Tuesday to Thursday...but I'm right back on the horse for Barcelona vs. the Hamburg Sea Devils next Saturday night. A good matchup for me on a short prep week, given that I've already researched all of the players on both teams (Hamburg for my rehearsal broadcast a few weeks ago); by the by, I was told by the ELF commissioner on Friday that we'll be given the head coaches' email addresses and phone numbers and encouraged to speak to them in due course. So that will be a new wrinkle to someone who very rarely has cooperation from the leagues/teams/players I cover to that sort of extent, although given my schedule this week, that may need to wait until my Week 4 game.
 
This is a first for me today - I played golf this morning, before a commentary game. Very glad it wasn't too windy and I didn't have to search too long for balls in the thick rough; I think I'll be in good form this evening for Barcelona vs. Hamburg. (FWIW, the final stat line for Madre London last week: 24 carries, 352 yards, 4 TDs - and one catch for 25 yards which I thought was a lateral and could have been added to his rushing total.)
 
This was quite exhausting:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REHx0bN7M-A


I mean, when one team goes up 32-0 and you're trying to make a game sound vaguely interesting long after it's no longer exciting - and the moment at which "no longer exciting" applies is before halftime - that's quite a mental effort. And when you're the only person commentating, without a color guy or a spotter or anyone else to help out, and you're doing all of this off of a blurry television feed? Yowsers. My voice just about held out, and I had some decent calls on some nice plays (including a punt return TD), but I left today's broadcast feeling kinda overwhelmed. Just because I love what I do doesn't mean it can't sometimes feel like very hard work. At least I'm not calling Barcelona again next week....
 
FYI, I've been given my preliminary Olympics commentary schedule...and I'm kinda surprised at how few games I'm currently scheduled to call. It would be perfectly possible for me to call every single softball and baseball game at the Olympics, but at the moment, I'm only down to call 9 of the 17 softball games and 12 of the 16 baseball games. I was doing three softball games a day and two baseball games a day at the 2018 Asian Games (outdoors, in the sweltering heat of Jakarta), and I'd been led to believe that the OBS were pretty hard taskmasters...but that seems not to be the case, at least as things stand. Happily, my assignments do include the Bronze and Gold Medal games in both sports, as well as every elimination game in the baseball and the key Japan vs. USA group stage game in softball. But for now I'm not calling either of the USA's two group stage baseball games (vs. Israel and Korea) and only two of the USA's five group stage softball games. I have told the person who sent me my rota that I would be happy to call every game, which may or may not prove to be a wise thing to have done; frankly, I'm expecting that COVID will probably cause some commentators to be absent at certain points and lead to widespread shuffling of the rota, and from a preparation standpoint I reckon I'm probably better off getting locked into just baseball and softball rather than risk getting pulled into other sports for which I won't have enough time to prepare. That said, if I were to get pulled into commentating on the basketball or tennis or even golf, that would be fantastic...it's a tough one!

Meanwhile, I had a video call this morning with my new Champions Hockey League producer in Milan to talk about ways I can help, both as a commentator and otherwise. This year's CHL kicks off on August 26, so only two-and-a-half weeks after I get back from Tokyo, and my schedule in the six weeks after my return could be pretty crazy: up to six ELF football games (if I get picked to call the playoffs), up to 12 days of CHL commentary (some perhaps featuring multiple games), and four days of WTA 1000 tennis commentary from Leeds on the event in Cincinnati. Being this busy is a great problem to have, but I'm not going to get much rest between now and mid-to-late September!
 

nattysez

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Has there been much discussion in the commentator community (if such a thing exists) about how the big US commentators have dealt with having to call games via video feeds? I think they've generally been able to pull it off, and I'm wondering how many networks are going to jump at the chance to stop sending their commentators to every game. At the very least, I could see it becoming much more common for, say, MLB commentator teams to call every game from their home park -- home games live and away games via a feed using the home-field audio equipment.
 
Has there been much discussion in the commentator community (if such a thing exists) about how the big US commentators have dealt with having to call games via video feeds? I think they've generally been able to pull it off, and I'm wondering how many networks are going to jump at the chance to stop sending their commentators to every game. At the very least, I could see it becoming much more common for, say, MLB commentator teams to call every game from their home park -- home games live and away games via a feed using the home-field audio equipment.
There is no commentator community as such. :) (Certainly not one I'm aware of!)

But to answer your question, I think more and more enterprises are figuring out how to call games off-tube, or rather, deciding that the gains of doing so outweigh the minuses to not having people there in person. Baseball is actually the worst sport to call off-tube, because of how difficult it is to quickly pick up how well a ball is hit when you can't judge its trajectory first-hand - I really look forward to learning this the hard way myself in a few weeks. But even then, I know from chatting with Tom Valcke at the Asian Games in 2018 that when he was the color guy for the Montreal Expos in their final season before moving to Washington, they called all of their away games off-tube. So this has probably been going on for longer than you might think.
 
Meanwhile, I've received my latest batch of documents from my OBS coordinators, and I keep wondering whether to laugh or cry. One of them is a 341-page Media Transport Guide. Another is simply called "Hotel Food" and tells me that during my first 14 days in Japan, my food options (when I'm not at the IBC or eating the box breakfast my hotel provides me) will consist of either delivery services like Uber Eats or trips to the one "Approved Convenience Store" I can visit, which is literally a Seven-Eleven around the corner from my hotel. I've actually been told by a good friend that curried buns at Seven-Elevens in Japan are to die for, but I'm also cracking up at some of the restaurant options Uber Eats sugests near my hotel - e.g.:

https://www.ubereats.com/jp-en/store/タコライス専門店-タコフロ-品川店-tacos-rice-specialty-restaurant-tacobro/WTtPMxlmTPySmSYGEn7YfA
 

ColdSoxPack

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Meanwhile, I've received my latest batch of documents from my OBS coordinators, and I keep wondering whether to laugh or cry. One of them is a 341-page Media Transport Guide. Another is simply called "Hotel Food" and tells me that during my first 14 days in Japan, my food options (when I'm not at the IBC or eating the box breakfast my hotel provides me) will consist of either delivery services like Uber Eats or trips to the one "Approved Convenience Store" I can visit, which is literally a Seven-Eleven around the corner from my hotel. I've actually been told by a good friend that curried buns at Seven-Elevens in Japan are to die for, but I'm also cracking up at some of the restaurant options Uber Eats sugests near my hotel - e.g.:

https://www.ubereats.com/jp-en/store/タコライス専門店-タコフロ-品川店-tacos-rice-specialty-restaurant-tacobro/WTtPMxlmTPySmSYGEn7YfA
Avocado tacos broccoli?
 

nattysez

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There is no commentator community as such. :) (Certainly not one I'm aware of!)

But to answer your question, I think more and more enterprises are figuring out how to call games off-tube, or rather, deciding that the gains of doing so outweigh the minuses to not having people there in person. Baseball is actually the worst sport to call off-tube, because of how difficult it is to quickly pick up how well a ball is hit when you can't judge its trajectory first-hand - I really look forward to learning this the hard way myself in a few weeks. But even then, I know from chatting with Tom Valcke at the Asian Games in 2018 that when he was the color guy for the Montreal Expos in their final season before moving to Washington, they called all of their away games off-tube. So this has probably been going on for longer than you might think.
Thanks for this. I'm very curious to see what teams and networks do in the future.
 
I called my final ELF game before my trip to Japan today, and I'm still nowehere near experiencing a competitive football game. The Frankfurt Galaxy were 31-0 up on the Cologne Centurions at halftime before coasting to a 41-20 win, and I'm pretty disappointed about it. I think I may have called three of the four biggest blowouts in the ELF's existence so far...and probably the best call I made today, of a 90-yard punt return TD for Cologne's Quinton Pounds, was negated by an illegal block in the back penalty. Hopefully I'm not a bad-luck charm!

I did try something different today: I served as my own spotter, trying to record the starting yard line before every play and keeping a drive chart until the game got into garbage time. That exercise definitely disrupted the flow of my commentary somewhat, particularly given how faded the yard line numbers were on the field, but actually I think it was still a net positive, given the lack of live stats being provided. Being able to refer back to TD distances and the length/starting field position of each drive is really important - having that information given to you is probably something you take for granted as a listener, but that information has to come from somewhere, and it really is tough for one commentator to do everything...not that I'm afraid of taking on that particular challenge.

Anyway, I fly to Tokyo on Tuesday, so now I fully go into Olympics mode. More from me on that front presently!
 
You should have no trouble getting whatever restaurant reservations you want in Tokyo.
You definitely have a mistaken view of the Tokyo experience I'm likely to have. For more than half of my trip, the only "restaurants" I'll be allowed to buy food from are the IBC canteen and the subway station 7-11 around the corner from my hotel. And thereafter, even once I've served my 14 days and am out of quarantine, I'm pretty sure Western faces aren't exactly going to be welcome most places in the city...not that I'm going to have too much time or too many chances to get out and about in any event. (I do hope to manage some sightseeing, but I'll be pleased to get even a few hours in the city center during my stay.)
 

MB's Hidden Ball

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You definitely have a mistaken view of the Tokyo experience I'm likely to have. For more than half of my trip, the only "restaurants" I'll be allowed to buy food from are the IBC canteen and the subway station 7-11 around the corner from my hotel. And thereafter, even once I've served my 14 days and am out of quarantine, I'm pretty sure Western faces aren't exactly going to be welcome most places in the city...not that I'm going to have too much time or too many chances to get out and about in any event. (I do hope to manage some sightseeing, but I'll be pleased to get even a few hours in the city center during my stay.)
Yes you’ll be getting food from a convenience store, but it’s more akin to getting a prepapred meal at Waitrose than it is to getting a day-old hotdog at a 7-11. It’s not a restaurant, but it’s not bad considering the circumstances.

edit: You’re likely to observe that convenience stores play a much more important role in daily life in Japan than they do in the US (or in the UK).
 
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StupendousMan

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The coffee at a 7-11 will be better than you're expecting. The combinis (convenience stores) now use machines which grind one serving's worth of beans when you press a button, then send the hot water through the resulting grounds and into your cup. I hope you enjoy it!
 
Yes you’ll be getting food from a convenience store, but it’s more akin to getting a prepapred meal at Waitrose than it is to getting a day-old hotdog at a 7-11. It’s not a restaurant, but it’s not bad considering the circumstances.
I know - I've been to websites like this one...

https://jw-webmagazine.com/what-to-buy-at-7-eleven-in-japan-ed8900c62b6b/

...and I quite like some of the options available there. But my problem is that the 7-11 I'm allowed to visit for the first 14 days is barely more than a kiosk within a subway station. Sample photo from Google Maps:

https://goo.gl/maps/N14x1Zb18mgP2ynq5

By the way, I'm under strict instructions to take my phone with me everywhere I go, keep the GPS switched on, and be willing and able to share my Google Maps Timeline with any Tokyo 2020 officials upon demand to prove where I have and haven't been. So it's not like I can just sneak away to the larger 7-11 a few blocks away (or its equivalent) without being at risk of getting deported.
 

OfTheCarmen

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Didnt you say you can get Uber Eats delivered? I would hope that there would be plenty of options within Uber distance for decent meals, no?
 
I've made it to my hotel in Tokyo. Whew. I sprang for Economy Comfort fares on both legs of my journey, so I had my section of my row to myself on both flights - and the COVID-related peace of mind which came with that - but I didn't get any sleep, and after waiting four hours after landing to get through immigration and customs (which included taking a saliva COVID test and waiting for the results), and then spendng another 90-120 minutes getting a bus from the airport to the central transport hub and then queueing to get a specially-arranged taxi to my hotel, I may well fall asleep as I'm typing this.

While waiting in one of the many queues I was in at Narita Airport today, I started talking with a couple of guys with English accents, and when it emerged that I had travelled from Edinburgh, he said, "You must be Darren Kilfara, then?" He's a guy named Olly Hogben, who gymnastics fans may know as apparently he does a lot of world feed gymnastics commentary; he also does WTA tennis from time to time, and he knew my name and nationality in that context and made a good guess to deduce my identity. We had several very nice conversations, and as it turns out he's staying on the floor below me in my hotel. Once we'd settled in a bit we met up in the lobby and walked to the 7-11 - not the tiny one at the station, but a much more expansive one just a block-and-a-half further along which the hotel staff said we should go to - so I've victualled up. He's also a good ally to have here insofar as he spent his gap year on Hokkaido and both speaks and reads decent Japanese; he helped translate a request I'd made of the reception team at the hotel, for example.

Anyway, despite it being only 5 p.m. in Tokyo, this post is no longer legible to me - I desperately need to crash and get some sleep!
 

tmracht

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Aug 19, 2009
2,671
I've made it to my hotel in Tokyo. Whew. I sprang for Economy Comfort fares on both legs of my journey, so I had my section of my row to myself on both flights - and the COVID-related peace of mind which came with that - but I didn't get any sleep, and after waiting four hours after landing to get through immigration and customs (which included taking a saliva COVID test and waiting for the results), and then spendng another 90-120 minutes getting a bus from the airport to the central transport hub and then queueing to get a specially-arranged taxi to my hotel, I may well fall asleep as I'm typing this.

While waiting in one of the many queues I was in at Narita Airport today, I started talking with a couple of guys with English accents, and when it emerged that I had travelled from Edinburgh, he said, "You must be Darren Kilfara, then?" He's a guy named Olly Hogben, who gymnastics fans may know as apparently he does a lot of world feed gymnastics commentary; he also does WTA tennis from time to time, and he knew my name and nationality in that context and made a good guess to deduce my identity. We had several very nice conversations, and as it turns out he's staying on the floor below me in my hotel. Once we'd settled in a bit we met up in the lobby and walked to the 7-11 - not the tiny one at the station, but a much more expansive one just a block-and-a-half further along which the hotel staff said we should go to - so I've victualled up. He's also a good ally to have here insofar as he spent his gap year on Hokkaido and both speaks and reads decent Japanese; he helped translate a request I'd made of the reception team at the hotel, for example.

Anyway, despite it being only 5 p.m. in Tokyo, this post is no longer legible to me - I desperately need to crash and get some sleep!
Ah yes the joys of Narita! Best of luck CP!
 
I've been up since midnight (!), but Day 1 at the IBC is now in the books. One of the advantages of the quarantine restrictions I'm enduring as a UK resident is that for the first three days, I'm not allowed to go on public transport, and therefore the OBS has to book us on taxis from the hotel to the IBC. We're travelling in threes, so I'm already getting to know my two rideshare partners (Guy McCrae and Andy Bodfish) fairly well; apparently, the three of us will be riding together until we're allowed not to.

Highlights of my day: I took the first of my three PCR saliva tests that I have to take over the next three days before moving to a more normal and less regular testing regimen. I picked up my OBS uniform kit, which weighs 4.5 kg and confirms that I packed *way* too much of my own clothing on this trip. (I basically have to wear that kit whenever I'm in the IBC.) I chatted with several other commentators, including one of my soon-to-be baseball partners Hans Frauenlob, a Canadian who spent six years working in the Blue Jays front office before emigrating to Auckland and eventually representing New Zealand in curling at the Turin Olympics in 2006. And I had a chance to see the commentary booth setup, the weirdest element of which is that when I'm working with another commentator, we'll be in different booths separated by a soundproof window. (The IBC was designed pre-pandemic, and the booths aren't wide enough to fit two people while observing the COVID safety protocols.) So that will be incredibly strange.

Anyway, I'm back at the hotel, rapidly getting more and more tired but hoping I can work as late as possible while watching the Open Championship golf on TV. (I've got my Sky subscription up and running via my VPN on TV via my laptop.) The full Olympic Information System just went live yesterday, and from what I've seen of it so far, my research is going to consist of copying and repurposing that material in a format that suits me much more than digging stuff up the way I normally have to!
 
I don't think I'm going to be posting every day in the buildup, but I should note that I'm in the IBC right now and am sitting across from ESPN's John Anderson, who is doing the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for OBS (along with a couple of other sports like 3x3 basketball). Just had a quick chat with him - I think he just arrived yesterday. Also found out I'll be calling my softball games with Leah Secondo, who is a name I think some of you might be familiar with; a Connecticut native, I believe? I'll catch up more with her later.
 

Tokyo Sox

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Feb 16, 2006
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I've made it to my hotel in Tokyo.
Nihon he youkoso! Welcome!

I guess you're probably almost finished with your 3-day quarantine? IOC head Bach did his 3 days and has been out and about since, is planning a very unpopular trip to Hiroshima, and is staying in a USD 3k a night suite at the Okura. And he stressed the importance of the "safety of the Chinese people" at a press conference which obviously went over quite well.

Not sure how much you'll be out and about in the city, or if you have a curfew or anything, but my offer a while back still stands of course. Food and/or drink on me if you're able to get out for a breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I'm also happy to pick up something better than 7-11 for you if you're stuck inside - you're staying somewhere in Shinagawa?

All the best - good luck with the adjustment and feel free to ask any Japan questions here or in PM.
 
So, we've all been given our own personal headsets to keep for the duration of the Olympics. No need to sanitize them if they're not being swapped between commentators! That's definitely an unusual wrinkle, having to schlep my headset back to my hotel every evening.

I had a chance to test the headset in one of the commentary booths today. Purely by chance, I wound up seated next door to Leah Secondo, and so I got to test the dual commentary setup (looking at her through the window) with the person I'll actually be partnering. We had a bit of a chat - with my face mask off, for the first time with pretty much anyone here (except during lunch)! - and it seems to make more sense to both of us if she works as the color commentator and I as the play-by-play person, given the fact that she has more knowledge of the sport than I do and that she's done both color and play-by-play before. That said, we might try and mix it up and maybe swap roles during at least one game at some point to see how that works.

More familiar faces have arrived today, including Pete Odgers, who was in Leeds working on the same WTA event in Madrid I was working on. (There are a LOT of tennis commentators here!) He's mostly doing tennis here; he was at PyeongChang in 2018 as well, but working as a quality control coodinator rather than as a commentator. He said that was the easiest job he ever had: paid the same rate as a commentator but having to do no prep work, just watching sports all day and occasionally making sure commentators knew he was there. Anyway, it's amazingly difficult to actually get work done in the IBC - it's kinda like being in a commentator frat house, an environment that most of us rarely get to experience - so from a productivity standpoint, I'm happy to be back in my room.