Turns out Joe Buck isn’t the only sportscaster getting creative during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meet Nick Heath, a rugby announcer from London who has created a stir with his play-by-play commentary of everyday life.
While Buck has offered to do play-by-play of people’s home videos while he’s quarantined, Heath pursued another idea: He ventured outside and, with his phone, recorded himself doing play-by-play of everything from dogs chasing each other to mothers pushing their babies in strollers to people crossing the street.
The result: hilarity and a huge hit.
Heath’s commentary on two dogs chasing each other in a park has been viewed almost 540,000 times on Twitter. Since Tuesday, when Heath posted the first of a dozen videos on his Twitter account, his followers increased to almost 80,000 from 15,000.
“It was just going and having a bit of fun and keeping my followers on social media entertained,” Heath, 41, told USA TODAY Sports. “But it obviously has blown up a bit since.”
Almost a year ago, he posted another video that went viral. Heath, who is gay, sounded off on “God-fearing athletes telling me I need to repent for my sins” after Australian rugby player Israel Folau posted homophobic comments on Instagram.
“It’s not a choice,” Heath said in the video of being gay. “I didn’t really want to be that way. But the fact that I am and got to grips with it and supported by my friends and family means I’m perfectly happy with my life.”
Three weeks ago, Heath was doing play-by-play for rugby games when the coronavirus pandemic triggered a shutdown of sports. With social distancing not having taken effect in London, Heath saw an opportunity.
Or, as he put it, “a chance for me to go out and have a bit of fun.”
“I’ve sort of referred to it a little bit as almost being the placebo for real sports because sport for me is as much about the sound of it, the look of it, the feel of it as the action itself,” he said. “So I think if you can embody the sound of it to a degree, then you’re almost scratching the itch for some people.”
Heath’s quirky play-by-play videos have earned him appearances on the BBC, a mention on the Canadian nightly news and donations from some of his new Twitter followers.
Heath said the donations have come in handy because he is a freelance commentator and gets paid by the game. No rugby, no income.
So even with opportunities to do play-by-play of dogs chasing dogs, women pushing babies in strollers and people crossing the street, Heath said, “It’s scary not knowing when the next actual game might be.”