It is the 2018 Fort Lauderdale Major. Men’s quarterfinals. Dalhausser/ Lucena against Brouwer/ Meeuwsen. The FIVB (co-)commentator is summarizing an exciting match that ended with a win for the Americans: “Phil turned to the top spin serve, this was the defining moment in the match.” Just a minute later Nick Lucena in the on-court interview: “It was Phil’s game. He switched the serve and that’s how we won”. This is when analysis hits reality.
When watching the major beach volleyball tournaments on television or livestream, you can come across all sorts of commentators. At times it can be quite annoying. Boring in the best case. I don’t have to tell you: not all commentaries are created equal. Some just lack volleyball insights. Some are rather boring. Some just don’t have any analytical rigor. Others try to compensate lack of skills with bad humor. But there is one guy that is different. One guy that has pretty much all the commentator skills needed.
Dain Blanton is the Sydney 2000 Olympic beach volleyball champion and the first African-American to ever win an AVP Title. In the past decade, he has been working in sports broadcasting for NBC and ESPN and as assistant coach at University of Southern California (USC). In recent years, he has been a commentator for the AVP and FIVB. Dain is a volleyball expert on American television. He brings intellectual rigor to the somewhat sloppy Amazon Prime coverage of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour. And when it comes to FIVB World Championships or Major Series events, he is commentating for the FIVB.
Dain has the analytical skills, he is concise and to-the-point. He is a beach volleyball enthusiast and manages to show his passion for the sport in his commentaries. He has got tons of volleyball knowledge and expertise. He talks to the players and provides some first hand insights. He makes great use of his coaching experience. His commentaries make watching a good beach volleyball match great. His “no bullshit” on-court interviews just hit the mark. Great intro, smart questions, no nonsense.
At the moment, Dain is doing the English commentary for the Beach Volleyball World Championships in Hamburg. So if you love beach volleyball like us and enjoy some good commentary, head over to Volleyballworld and enjoy!
As you say, Dain is a treasure for beach volleyball fans and I have enjoyed his work for years. However, I have to respectfully, but wholeheartedly, disagree with the notion that the Prime coverage of the AVP has been sloppy pre-Dain. Kevin Barnett, Camryn Irwin and even last season’s Kelly Tennant are smooth, well-informed volleyball commentators. A walking encyclopedia of volleyball players, Kevin Barnett knows everyone on the court, every coach and every former pro volleyball player in the stands. Furthermore, he knows all their back stories as well. Camryn, who is my personal favorite, invites viewers into the AVP family with her humility and joyful enthusiasm and I honestly miss Kelly’s insightful commentary. One could argue, in fact, that at present Dain is the clumsiest member of the team, fumbling over names at a fairly consistent rate and neither quite being able to project the same sense of warmth to the viewers nor engage in friendly banter with interviewed athletes to the extent of the aforementioned trio. This is natural as he has had less time to familiarize himself with the AVP on the same level as Kevin and Camryn. Nonetheless, I believe Dain to be a great addition to the team and I am sure he will smooth out his commentary quite rapidly, and that the newest member of the commentary gang will be a treat for AVP viewers just like Camryn, Kevin and Kelly have been thus far.
thanks for this great and thoughtful comment. I have to say that our remark on the AVP coverage did not necessarily refer to the commentators you mentioned. We don’t want to offend them. What we had in mind were also those additional activities in between the matches, e.g. participating in infantile on-court games, immature off-court stories and irrelevant social media coverage. We think that Dain with his mature “no bullshit” approach is a good counterbalance to the activities mentioned.