Last month, rugby announcer Nick Heath was in Cardiff to take part in the Wales-France match at the 2020 Women’s Six Nations Championship. Now temporarily out of work because of the global quarantine, Heath has become one of the latest viral sensations with his hilarious videos that add stirring play-by-play descriptions of mundane everyday activities.
For the footage, Heath takes 20- and 30-second clips of activities ranging from dogs running in a park to a person standing and looking into the trees and overlays them with his own exaggerated commentary.
“It is not to make them the butt of a joke,” the 41-year-old Heath told USA Today Sports. “It is the time that we are in.”
And people are clearly responding: His Twitter account (@nickheathsport) has added over 100,000 followers since he started posting his videos, and his Instagram (@nickheathsport) is up to 44,000.
In one video, a dog is playing catch with its female owner, and Heath turns it into the "National Championships of Spaniel Speedway."Another clip featuring two dogs chasing each other around the park becomes the "Tooting Dogging Final." Heath also has branched out to announce people crossing the street, shoppers at the store, and a group of mothers taking a walk with babies and strollers.
“I don’t use that voice when I am commentating,” Heath told the Globe and Mail in a recent interview. “It is a parody, a poke at the sorts of voices that you would have maybe heard here used by sports announcers in the 1980s. My slight concern is that when I go back to covering games, that voice will creep in.”
Heath is no stranger to the spotlight. Last year, when professional Australian rugby player Israel “Izzy” Folau was accused of homophobia in a series of social media posts, Heath responded from a personal place.
“As a gay rugby announcer, I’ve had enough of God-fearing athletes telling me I need to repent for my sins,” Heath wrote as a caption to a Twitter post.
Heath is a freelancer commentator so the quarantine has hit him hard. He’s posted a PayPal fundraiser on his social media pages. While the videos have helped drive donations, he’s not in this for the money. As Heath sees it, he’s just doing his part to help people deal with a disruption in nearly every aspect of their lives.
“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 told USA Today Sports. “So I think if you can embody the sound of it to a degree, then you’re almost scratching the itch for some people."