Friday, June 18, 2010

The World Cup Needs John Madden

No, not the actual John Madden, he wouldn't know what was happening (more so than usual), plus I don't believe there is a roadway that runs from the U.S. to South Africa, so the Madden Cruiser would have to become a submarine.

What I mean is that in soccer's great quest to become a relevant spectator sport in the states, it does itself no favors by putting British announcers in American games. People already see it as an outsiders sport, why hammer it home? Yet as I watch the World Cup, I keep find myself saying "Who talks like that?"

When I watch the World Cup, I want a guy who enjoys the game thoroughly and is almost a soccer idiot savant. He can be blunt, he can be blue, hell, he can be drunk. I just want him to show me that he can enjoy soccer in more than a "this is such a beautiful game" sort of way.

That's where the Madden comparison comes in. John Madden was famous for noticing all the little things during a game. Nothing tactical, but the little details of a game that the camera doesn't catch. He'd point out the sweat on linemen, he'd find if there was an issue with the Gatorade, and you can bet he'd find a guy who nearly tripped walking back to the huddle. Plus, he spoke in a way that made him seem like your kooky neighbor or your favorite bizarre uncle.

If you're not sure what I'm talking about, I can give you some hints. The following sentences should never be spoken on an American broadcast:

"That's a well struck ball."
"He needs to strengthen his fitness."
"Difficult first touch there."
"He used a heavy boot on that cross."

That's not how we speak here. And what's worse, there are American broadcasters he speak like that. Who are you, Madonna? You are American! We don't drink afternoon tea and we sure as hell don't describe a guy coming off of injury as getting his fitness back.

I want a guy who can show me the jersey grabbing, the smack talking, and who can make fun of the divers and divas in the soccer pitch. I'm sorry, I mean soccer field. If he's not American, he needs to be a drunk Irishman who is prone to angry outbursts.

What we need is soccer's version of John Madden. A guy who thoroughly enjoys the game and has a way to communicate that to the average American without making them feel like moronic rednecks. He sees things in the game that interest Americans: violence, feats of athletic achievement, and really embarrassing gaffes.

Just give the guy a telestrator and let him roll. Boom!

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