Commentating Sports with a Smile

SAP Australia employee Jonathan Fogarty commentates on sporting events in his free time. Discover what inspires him.

Jonathan Fogarty, industry business architect for SAP Australia, has a rather unique hobby. He works as a sports commentator in his spare time. His first major assignment was at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney at the Bondi Beach Volleyball Stadium.

He describes the experience of commentating at such a huge event quite simply: “terrifying.”

SAP employee Jonathan FogartyDespite his nerves, Jonathan won plaudits and went on to commentate at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and Beijing in 2008, as well as at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, and at the Cricket World Cup in 2015. He is currently the stadium announcer for the Australian national rugby league team, the Gold Coast Titans.

Success Takes Many Forms

Jonathan has watched the world’s sporting elite in action many times, but he also likes to look at the stories behind the high-visibility triumphs.

“We love sport because it inspires us and brings out the best in people across cultures and nations, which is great,” he says. “But for me, the things that are more exciting or actually move me are where people have achieved things that maybe you and I don’t consider.” He enjoys witnessing small, quiet successes.

“There are lots of men and women taking part in sporting events who have had to endure all manner of setbacks, defeats, and injuries,” he explains. “Being able to compete at a given moment in front of their friends and families is a journey of such a vast effort that we never really appreciate. Success and accomplishments can take many forms.”

Failures: Just “Potholes in the Road”

Jonathan also moderates events at SAP, such as the Business Women’s Network and SAP Field Kick-Off Meetings. Many of the qualities he needs as a sports commentator benefit him in his day job as well. Standing up in front of customers or a large audience and being able to speak calmly, convincingly, and authentically are valuable skills in his presales role, as is the ability to think quickly under pressure and have a good answer at the ready.

“You can’t always avoid moments when things don’t go to plan,” he says. “But if you have the chance to build up lasting trust, credibility, and a connection with a customer, then those moments are just potholes in the road and you carry on going regardless.”

Sports Commentating as a Career

Jonathan is often asked why he doesn’t choose to devote all his time to his hobby and to the exciting life it brings with it. But he values both aspects of his life, and he loves working for SAP.

“For me, the people at SAP are truly inspiring. They’re multi-dimensional, they have lots of different interests and passions and they’re highly diverse and versatile. That’s what keeps me coming me back to SAP and the reason I am so happy here.”

Jonathan’s hobby is a time-consuming one and it is not always easy for him to fit it around a full-time position at SAP. So there are times when it has to take a back seat, or when he has to take vacation to accept a commentating assignment, or work on other things at night.

Because, to be a good commentator, he says, you must invest sufficient time, care, attention, and preparation – whether you’re commentating at the Olympic Games or holding a presales presentation. SAP has always been highly supportive in allowing him to do all these things, he says.

Top Tips for Commentating

Jonathan FogartyJonathan’s approach is always the same, whether commentating on sport or hosting a business event. He sees his role as creating the context for his audience and keeping them focused on the matter at hand. But he stays very much in the background. Modesty is a key quality for a good commentator, he says, and it is important to respect the audience and their time; that is, to make sure everyone feels involved in what is happening and to keep to the schedule.

It is also about showing enthusiasm without allowing yourself to be overcome by your own emotions. He grins as he recalls a situation during the 2000 Olympic Games, when he interviewed one of his childhood heroines, swimmer Dawn Fraser. “I finished the interview by bursting into tears and she gave me a big hug – with 10,000 people watching on a giant screen.”

So, what is Jonathan’s No. 1 tip for holding a presentation?

“Personally, I think there’s nothing more powerful than a smile,” he shares. “You should always start with a smile, whether you’re commentating an event or opening a meeting. It makes no difference if it’s your face or just your voice that’s broadcast. When the producer says, ‘You’re live in three, two, one…,’ the first thing you do is take a deep breath and smile, even if no one can see you doing it. They can hear you smiling.”

If you know about a subject, feel comfortable with it, and are passionate about it, that shines through, says Jonathan Fogarty. “It’s not about throwing your hands in the air and dancing on the stage. It’s about speaking from the heart, with integrity and a smile on your face.”


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