Sunday, June 26, 2005


I'm watching a truly incredible moment in sports. I set my DVR to record the Confederations Cup (think World Cup warmup) semifinal between Germany and Brazil. But the previous game on Fox Soccer Channel was the denoument of a game at the Under-20 World Championships. Nigeria and the Netherlands were tied after overtime ("extra time") and so went to penalty kicks. When a match goes to penalties, each team takes five, and whoever has more at the end wins.

Unless it's still tied. In that case, it goes to sudden death. Nigeria and the Netherlands went 12 rounds (five is the usual) of penalty kicks before Nigeria's Taye Taiwo
finally made one following a Dutch miss, giving Nigeria a 10-9 advantage on penalties. (The game was a 1-1 draw).

I mention all this as a way of noting that during anything this ridiculous, any American TV broadcaster would have been bellowing, hooting, hollering, and generally just irritating the shit out of me. Furthermore, *anyone who made a penalty kick would have been lauded as if he'd just put Grendel's head on a pike.

During this game, the announcer (I have no idea who he was) kept his wits about him and actually allowed the rather incredible events unfolding before him to speak for themselves, without feeling the need to muse on the nature of the game or relate anecdotes about one of the coaches. At one point, after a particularly staggering kick, he simply said "extraordinary!"

Indeed. I'd say that American sportscasters could shut up and take a lesson, but Vin Scully is widely hailed as the dean of play-by-play men, and yet everyone with a mike in front of them sounds as if they're trying to be the next Chris Berman instead.

*Assuming he was already "known" to be "clutch," played for a major team, or any such nonsense.


evil girl said...

no one but you will ever think the penguins are funny.

brian the pinup said...

Missed you at the New Pornographers this weekend, sir, (where's the update from your coblogger on this?) but glad you've been continuing on in our World Cup-watching traditions. A long way from Becky's at 5am exploding when the US took the lead vs. Portugal...

At any rate, agreed on sports announcers. ESPN pretty much kinged Jason Giambi last night when all he did was deliver the RBI they wouldn't have needed if he wasn't such a bonehead in the field. Nice Beowulf reference.

spinachdip said...

I've always liked British soccer commentators for the same reason. They don't forget that
a) We're tuning in for the game, not the commentary
b) TV is a visual medium - there is no need to explain everything.