Monday, July 12, 2010

ESPN's Dilemma

ESPN.com's coverage of the World Cup (which I assume was comparable to its TV coverage with regard to how it analyzed and explained the sport to viewers) differed from the network's Latin American coverage in one very noticeable way: in Latin America, the network's most recognizable faces --José Ramón Fernández, David Faitelson, Daniel Brailovsky-- are by and large soccer experts. Therefore, ESPN could send both its superstars and its sharpest soccer analysts to South Africa without sacrificing one group for the other: they were one and the same. Such is not the case in the US, so while you have knowledgeable American soccer writers like Michael Bradley, you also have the better known sports generalists --which in the US means someone not steeped in soccer knowledge and lore-- like Jemele Hill representing the network. Hill's summary of the final, which basically slammed Spain for being boring, seems like that of someone who learned 95 percent of what they know about international soccer in the past month. For instance:
And if you watched Spain throughout the tournament, you're not underestimating the Spaniards by thinking it's somewhat surprising that they would be hoisting the gold trophy.

This was a team that didn't really wow throughout the tournament. This was not a glamour team, rather one that valued possession more than scoring.

[Break]

Throughout the tournament, the Spaniards forced everyone to play their clunky game. They imposed their style and their lack of goals, of beauty, is a non-issue.
The final was ugly, but everyone (aside from Hill) rightly blames the Dutch and their chest-high tackles for that. As for Spain, "clunky"? A surprise winner? Not beautiful? That's just ridiculous. This was a team of wizards across the field (and up and down the bench) that fulfilled its destiny in lifting the trophy.

2 comments:

John said...

Agreed. Also, her editor should have rejected that first sentence on sight. I still don't quite get what she's getting at, but the sentence has so many qualifiers that I can't really disagree.

pc said...

Yeah no joke, that sentence is a total mess. "If you woke up to the solar eclipse on the morning of August 13, you're not underestimating the irregularity of cosmic phenomena by thinking it's somewhat surprising that the sun rose on August 14."

It's the network's fault for putting her in that position.