Friday, June 11, 2010

Announcing the World Cup

The day is finally here. The greatest sporting spectacle in the world is upon us, and I'm particularly excited this year because ESPN finally decided to listen to its audience and get some legitimate announcers. As a bonus, the worst announcer ever, JP Dellacamera, "has been relegated to ESPN Radio for the World Cup." Praise the heavens!

The only mistake ESPN made in its announcing teams was keeping John Harkes. He's the only member of the six-man rotation who calls the game "soccer." No, I'm not being a snob who thinks it should be called "football." I usually say "soccer" because that's what I grew up saying and what everyone in America uses, though I do often switch to "football" in the presence of other players. I think we naturally say it without really thinking. It's like when we put our hands in our shorts to keep warm during the cold-weather season -- just a natural reaction to being in the situation.

In any case, I feel it's going to be weird when he says "soccer" when every single one of his counterparts will be saying "football." Also, he just has nothing of value to say. During last night's NBA Halftime Show, where they did a short segment to promote the World Cup, Harkes said, "Landon Donovan  is the Steve Nash of the soccer world." Really?

This is a stupid comparison, indicative of the type of rubbish we'll hear from him for the next month. Steve Nash has been a superstar year-after-year in the top league in the world for his sport, and he has been officially recognized as the best player in that league -- twice .Landon Donovan had three unsuccessful stints in the Bundesliga and "conquered" the MLS, which is akin to conquering your college's intramural league when you have the talent to start for the varsity team.. To his credit, he played well during his 13-game loan spell in Everton.. Maybe it shows he has the potential to excel in a full, grueling Premiership season.

However much I dislike John Harkes, he's not as bad as JP Dellacamera. He just won't shut the hell up, and he knows it too. Regarding the American proclivity to speak to much versus British minimalism:

"I'm not sure that it's a style difference as much as a cultural difference. Let's say British announcers and probably those in other countries, too, I think they talk less than American announcers. I think they talk more about their particular game they're calling than other games. There's not as much storytelling, not as much promos."

We tuned in to watch a game, not to listen to a puff piece about how some player grew up playing barefoot in the streets of Rio using only a ball made out of old socks. ESPN should continue to relegate him until he's working darts competitions.

Despite all of my bitching, I am very excited for the next month. I hope the Ivory Coast is triumphant, but it would be interesting if Argentina won -- Maradona has promised to run naked through the streets of Buenos Aires if victorious.

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