The color commentator on a game broadcast complements the play-by-play announcer by contributing his/her expertise as it pertains to the game being broadcast. This position is also known as a game analyst.
The color commentator is expected to enhance the broadcast and add facts and insight drawn from past experiences and games played. In most cases, color commentators are retired professional athletes and coaches who have successfully transitioned from the playing surfaces to the broadcast booths.
Such was the case in ESPN’s Dream Job 2 when former NBA player Dee Brown emerged as the victor and landed a job as a color commentator and analyst for ESPN. This fact of the industry exists because these former athletes and coaches possess the most first hand knowledge of what it is like to be ‘in the trenches’ as opposed to casual to most die-hard sports fans. Their demonstrated knowledge cannot be disputed when it comes to past experience. After all, credibility counts when it comes to the people who disseminate information to the public.
In contrast, an aspiring color commentator who has never been in such an up close and personal position must overcome many obstacles in proving his/her knowledge of the game. One great way of breaking in as an analyst is to have previously demonstrated some type of sports expertise. This can be done through journalistic endeavors, television broadcasting, and/or web presence. These are great ways to build the necessary credibility and attention in the public eye.
Television talent scouts notice and keep track of people who attract such attention with the possibility of adding them to their lineups. A great example of late has been the influx of once amateur fantasy football and sports statistics experts who are now paid to broadcast their own segments on major sports shows.