Soccer is a foreign game. That's the charge. It's untrue of course, soccer balls have been kicked around in this country just as long as pigskins and fastballs have flown through the air. But the detonator on the charge has been lit again with news reports that ESPN has chosen foreign accents to provide the commentary for the upcoming World Cup Finals. An American twang will not be leading the cheering when the USA march out to face England on June 12 for the most anticipated match in US soccer in sixty years.
English, Irish and Scottish voices will guide US fans through the month long tournament, using the terminology of old Europe -- fields will be pitches, cleats will be boots, and strips are uniforms. So why has ESPN, now a global media concern, decided Americans are not good enough to broadcast for their own national team? No other country will have a foreign voice broadcasting their games.
Perhaps facts show that Brit-types know the game better, they invented it, and are likely to deliver a more sophisticated analysis. They seem to possess the voice of authority, just as they did in 1776. The Queen's English must prevail over the colonist's accent. Granted, US soccer commentary has been patchy over the years, mainly through an inferiority complex of having to translate the game into language baseball, Grid Iron, and basketball fans might understand should they press the wrong button on the remote and find themselves watching this low scoring, alien game loved by the world. But then again, maybe ESPN should be more patriotic?
Let's have the awkward American voices. They are the tongues of the nation, maybe their excitement will explode and a new soccer commentary revolution will be born when the Yanks dump the English overboard in the June 12 match up. So, come on ESPN, invite one of those crazed tea baggers to sportscast on the red, white and blue as it battles the former colonial master. Come July 4th, the USA could be heading towards global glory! If the USA wins the World Cup on July 11, soccer will no longer be foreign but American. We're #1 baby!
Right, dream on.
Alan Black is the co-author of the Glorious World Cup -- A Fanatic's Guide, published by NAL/Penguin on May 4.