With the World cup only 15 days away, i thought its time to put out my views before the tournament starts. Thoughts on the coverage of this magnificent tournament in the United States of America. The worlds largest, most loved event.
Football has been a hated sport in this country for all 16 years I’ve been here. But there is change coming. I can feel it. Something has happened over at ESPN that’s making me think this. All of a sudden, we’re getting High Definition broadcasts of games, real commentators commentating on games, and a heck of a lot of advertising for the world cup on ESPN.
During the 98, 02 and 06 world cup’s, you’d not have known it was coming on ESPN as they hardly mentioned it. For 2010, they’ve had a campaign going since 2008 to tell people that the world cup is coming, and you can see it on ESPN/ABC. That’s a 2 year long campaign. That’s a change to what I’ve seen in the past. That’s a good change.
I should have noticed this change in 2008 when ESPN showed every game live in High Definition of the European Championship. You know, something that the USA doesn’t, and can’t participate in. To have the final shown on network TV was even more of a blessing. 4 years prior to that, the entire tournament was PPV only.
Not only did ESPN show Euro 2008 in High Def, they threw out all of the rubbish American commentators and used real class commentating. It was a great tournament to watch. I took it for granted. I thought i was back in England for those 3 weeks.
So what have i noticed for 2010?
- Colorful advertising. Very stylish/artistic graphics for the logo – taken by the theme of Africa.
- Announcements all the time, that the world cup is coming.
- Live draw, with *full* coverage – although Bob Ley was getting a bit annoying talking over the hosts of the world cup draw.
- The ESPN logo in the corner of the bottom line flashing over to the WC2010 logo periodically.
- A sudden and shocking announcement that they will be showing live EPL games in 2009 *in HD*. It happened literally two days before the first game of the season.
- A sudden and shocking announcement that Martin Tyler will be commentating for ESPN for the world cup. *Drool*
- A Live roster selection segment on Sportscenter.
- ESPN3D to cover some of the games from the world cup, allegedly the first 3d broadcast in the US.
ESPN will be boasting a British only commentary personnel line up for all 64 games, that’s incredible given that it was all American (except Derek Rae and Adrian Healey for some of the games) just 4 years ago.
Martin Tyler and Andy Gray for USA v England ? *yum*
They’ve added my buddy Klinsmann to the panel of personalities to review the post games.T
hey will all be on site in South Africa (apparently) to cover the games.
So, this all sounds good for the football fan in America, so why do i say its “almost” there?
Simple. I think there will be a tendency for someone like Bob Ley or Anthony Hopkins to try and teach the audience the game. I hate that. I think that needs to go away *now*.
ESPN has to know by now that you cant teach an old dog new tricks. You cant make a left hander, a right hander. So why bother? The only audience watching these games, will be the open minded person who cares about the world and wants to watch it. Or has an interest in it. Everyone should completely ignore the ignorant Americans who *hate* the sport. I really don’t give a toss about the Americans who hate the game. They don’t even know *why* they hate the game, its just something they were brought up with. You know, like the English hating the Germans. We don’t know why we hate them today, we just do! Ok sure, there might be something about WWII in there someplace, but that was 80 years ago. Who cares now right?
If ESPN can get through this world cup without Bob Ley telling me that England vs Germany is like the Dodgers vs the Yankees, that’ll be a huge step for mankind. I swear I’ll slit my wrists if i hear some crap like that – Ok maybe not.
But really, its time for ESPN to let go of trying to convince “America” that “soccer” is a good game. There is just no need for it. Come to think of it, if John Motson tried to tell me that Yankees vs Dodgers was like Germany vs England, I’d switch channels – immediately.
My thought process here is, show the game as its meant to be shown. If there is a brain cell in any NFL loving American, he’ll be interested and may enjoy the next 2hrs. If not, it doesn’t matter. There are 6billion football lovers around the world. we don’t need anymore.
It probably turns the American audience off when they hear comparisons between the peoples game, and their game.
Football is a different game, built on different principles. Its a game designed by people, for people. Its not a game designed by advertisers for people. It has a different flow, a different feel, a different language.