Cup Coverage Ramble

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I was out of town for a while dealing with a family tragedy and of course, I’ve had a few games to watch in addition to the trip. However, there are no games today so I guess I don’t have an excuse not to blog.

First off, ESPN/ABC’s coverage of the World Cup has taking a bit of heat from the soccer geeks. Most if the complaints (especially when it comes to Dave O’Brien) I agree with the geeks. The majority of the problems are very well summed up by Jeff Klein at the NY Times. I’m still trying to figure out why Dave O’Brien would make those comments to the USA Today though (scroll down to the bottom). Am I the only one who is tired of ESPN/ABC (and other media outlets) feeling the need to ‘dumb down’ their calls for the audience so the newbies to the sport will understand? Personally, I have found that even people I know who don’t watch much soccer, know enough to not need things explained to them every match.

In addition to my addiction to soccer, I also love to watch Formula 1 racing. I grow up with the great Murray Walker calling the races. Not once do I remember him insulting the intelligence of the viewer by explaining things every race. My enjoyment of F1 is continued today by the coverage of SpeedTV. David Hobbs and Steve Matchett who instead of dumbing down their commentary actually increase the viewers knowledge of the sport by drawing on their experience in F1 and their contacts still in the sport to give the viewers the latest technical innovations. Unfortunately, 4 races each year are broadcast to the masses on CBS and they commentary seems to do nothing but go over the basics each time. I also learned the sport of Aussie Rules Football by watching broadcasts with Aussies doing the commentary. Hey, if I can learn what’s going on in that sport, there must be something to this method.

While I was away, I was driving a car which had XM radio. How many of you know that the GolTV crew-plus a few others-are doing commentary and caller phone-ins from Germany? It was awesome. Read through the guys they have calling the games. Phil Schoen in particular is my favorite American play-by-play announcer. He did a great job of calling the game for radio. If only I could convince my wife that I need XM.

One last thought… In 1990 I had just moved to the US. I was amazed I was able to get the World Cup…well, some selected matches on TBS and the rest on Univision. TBS would cut to the matches right at kickoff, had horrible announcers and took commercial breaks during the action. When the US bombed out, there was no reaction on any media…heck, finding any English language media was impossible. This year, we have every match on live with English commentary (regardless of your feelings about the commentators). There are pre/post match studio analysts who tore the team and Arena apart just seconds after the final whistle. The papers have a decent amount of coverage of the Cup this summer.

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