Misery: ABC/ESPN World Cup announcers (very minor spoiler)

I'd suspended blogging until I finished work on a new engine for Copia, but this is the World Cup. I feel like a kid on his birthday, and I just can't keep a lid on.

Despite an exciting start to Germany 2006 I've had a depressing inkling of how hard it's going to be to endure the announcers. For Germany vs. Costa Rica ESPN2 put forth Marcelo Balboa and some git I've never heard of named Dave O'Brien. Balboa is a good analyst. He's not exactly Robbie Earl, but he does know the game very well (he was one of the best US defenders in history, and is in the US Soccer hall of fame). Of course I'm biased because he also lives a few blocks from me (he played for the Colorado Rapids before he retired).

I wondered about the O'Brien guy, though, and I didn't have to wonder long. I think I can summarize his knowledge of football thus: He knows that the ball is round and that the goal's net is not made of barbed wire, but he knows hardly anything beyond that. Marcelo Balboa was constantly having to interrupt to correct O'Brien's laughably wrong assessments of matters on the pitch. Just to give one mad-cap example, a Costa Rican defender stuck out a hand to pull Schweinsteiger's shirt in the box. Schweinsteiger (I think it was him, but I might be remembering incorrectly) dove and the ref ignored him. It was one of those cases of: sure it's technically a foul, but far too minor to merit a penalty. O'Brien, however, took this as an opportunity to say: "That just shows that the idea that you cannot use your hands in soccer is a complete misnomer". As such he managed to 1) misuse the word "misnomer", 2) confound the the many possible senses of the term "use your hands" 3) ignore the fact that shirt-pulling is illegal in football.

My ultimate exasperation came when Klinsman brought in Neuville to replace Klose mid-way though the second half. O'Brien asked Balboa, in a mystified tone, "so why does Klinsman decide to sub Neuville for Klose at this time?" I just about jumped up and down yelling at the TV: "Because Neuville is one of the wiliest strikers in the world, and is a perfect man to bring in to poach a late goal when a game is not quite winding down the way you're hoping". The problem is that clearly O'Brien knows nothing about these players. Neither announcer has mentioned anything to indicate that they're at all familiar with players' exploits at club level. I end up having to explain to Lori each players' characteristics that I've learned from watching club leagues and cups. That's the sort of awareness I expect from an announcer. They should be the ones telling me that Klose sometimes tends to flag a bit at the end of Werder Bremen games. That Wanchope was known for gorgeous, composed goals (as well as some inconsistency) during a long stretch playing in England, etc. O'Brien was more keen on telling us over and over that Wanchope played college Basketball in the U.S. Bah! It's enough to drive a football fan to an early grave.

ESPN, why oh why can we not have Derek Rae to call for US TV? (To everyone else, yeah, I know people find Rae's usual gab partner Tommie Smyth annoying, but Rae himself is extremely knowledgeable and professional). Or if it must be an American, why not poach former USA player Christopher Sullivan from Fox Soccer Channel? Sullivan possibly has the most encyclopaedic knowledge of football of any analyst in any country. I'd say his only problem is that he seems to dislike saying anything negative about anyone. He's just a bit too affable.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia
93 responses
At one point during the middle of the game, not having anything else to say, O'Brien goes: 'Costa Rica, a country located in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south...'
Ouch, my sympathies. On British TV the state of affairs is that our two main channels each have a split of the games, and the regular commentators John Motson and Clive Tyldesley are exceptional as usual. The back up commentators have been a bit hit and miss, with Gareth Southgate (ex England player, now Middlesbrough manager) being excellent, but Mark Lawrenson's dry wit being quite irritating most of the time.

Hilariously apropos of this post, on ITV each ad break is sponsored by Budweiser who have been running commercials where two American sports commentators try to comment on a game and get it somewhat pear-shaped. For example, in one, a commentator looks at a list of the players and asks what on earth is going on, to which the other says "well, they let other countries play", and the first responds "how am I going to learn their names?!". Another time the first asks the other what he thinks the coach will be saying to the players, and the other answers in fluent Portuguese (or Spanish, but Portuguese would be funnier).

And of course there's the obligatory argument about offside.
Hooray. I found somebody as annoyed as I was. Watching the England game on Saturday, I had never heard one players name so many times (beckham) and the term "bend it". O'brien obviously rented a movie in preparation for his world cup. Luckily I'm in san diego and get xhuaa (a tijuana rebroadcast of a mexico city station) and ended up watching half the game on that. The picture wasn't as clear, and I don't have a perfect understanding of spanish, but its a lot better than listening to the abc/espn announcers
Dave O'Brien will not shut up.  I about fell asleep during Czech v. USA, and not because it was 3-0.
I could not agree more with the above comments.

If we must put up with these novice commentators at least they should learn some terminology, what is the "end line" or a "cutting ball".

I realise it is necessary to educate the American public on some of the basic points of the game but please, do it correctly.

Also why is it necessary to talk about the US team during other games.

I thought it was particularly rude to show the US national anthem prior to the Czech game and not the Czech anthem, in fact it was ignorant and arrogant....respect gets respect.
we finally had to turn the sound off on the tv....listening to dave o brien constantly constantly constantly...............oh my god someone put a sock in his mouth!!!!!
Somebody save us from Balboa.

This moron offers a barrage of irrelevant commentary that bears no relation to the game in front of your eyes. Sometimes no relation even to the game being played. ABC coverage of the World Cup is downright painful.. big black info boxes obscuring half the screenplay don't help either.

Don't ABC understand how they antagonise the viwer? Like someone else here I end up watching the Spanish Cover. Much more informative, and I don't speak Spanish.
At one point during the England-Paraguay game, O'Brien called England "Germany."

During the same game, when the Paraguan goalkeeper nearly let the ball slip through his hands across the goal line, O'Brien went off about "this is the World Cup! This is why you need a computer chip in the ball! It's like if you're watching the World Series, it's only inches between a strike and a ball..."

O'Brien's description of Crouch: "He's tall, like a skyscraper..."

Someone please kill the guy.
Someone should start a petition to get some new announcers.  These guys are ruining the World Cup for American fans.  How about some people who will explain what is going on out on the field?
O'Brien really kills the excitement of watch the game. He has no idea and often says nothing when a player makes a brilliant move, is about to strike or pass into the box etc... I wonder if Balboa just wants to strangle him in the booth.

I know this is probably just a stupid thought, but is there any kind of petition to ABC going on the get him out of the Finals? This kind of boring commentary will not bring more audience in the US into soccer.
I'd sign a petition to have O'Brien, who is a pretty reasonable baseball announcer actually, sacked.  I'd also sign a petition to have ESPN executive Jed Drake, or whoever it was who made this asinine and abusive decision, sacked, and also flogged, publicly.

"Because of O'Brien's limited soccer experience, ESPN executive Jed Drake concedes that using O'Brien as the lead voice 'is a bit of a calculated risk.' But he wanted an announcer from a 'more mainstream sport.'"

Right.  More mainstream.

Oh, I see there is actually a petition going round.  I'm going to go and sign it now.  I recommend letters to the editors of our local papers also.  If we kick up some noise, maybe it won't happen again in 2010.  Because it really does just kill the game.

Can anyone suggest any English-language live feeds on the internet that I can play over the television?

"Brazil just doesn't lose.  And this is going to be a problem for Croatia..."
burning question. why does espn allow such pathetic supposed announcers to cover the u.s. games. o'brien not only reveals his ignorance for the entire sport, but the networks. he is irrelevant, infuriating, and trite: "germany, a country known for their sausage and beer." is this really the best espn can do? as an american: player, supporter, and person with a brain i am embarrassed and now forced to watch my local Spanish channels.

Please dear god let me know if someone finds a petition or something of the sort…. I would like to live until the next world cup or at least without the aliments following a stroke.
Is there really a petition?  Please post a link to it, I will sign it in a second.  Someone should make a website devoted to their messed up quotes.

here's one I heard (not word for word)

"This is an incredible victory for Australia, and a sorrowful defeat for Australia"
I am grateful that all 64 games will be shown live without commericials, but I am bleeding out of my ears from enduring the aweful noise coming from the mouths of the ESPN/ABC announcers.

Glenn Davis and Shepp Messing are almost as terrible as O'Brien and Balboa. JP and Harkes are tolerable (except the ass-kissing of the Brazilians today was hard to swallow). But, I think that Adrian Healy and Tommy Smyth are the best of the bunch.

Still, I'd rather hit the mute button or flip over to Univision. Maybe I'll break down and purchase an XM radio setup http://www.xmradio.com/worldcup/

I saw that someone asked about a petition. I stumbled upon this one before I found you guys:

Going back to Espn announcers...I really do feel for you... I, fortunately speak Spanish and I'm lucky to watch the Univision broadcast and their announcers..  I wouldnt call them the best, but they do show the passion for futbol.  I just wish I could watch the games in HD with real anouncers...
Here's a good one:

Suppose baseball suddenly became big in the UK.  Would it not behoove the Brits to poach some American baseball announcers IF they were available based on their expertise and baseball being in their blood, if only as a service to the viewing audience?

If Tim McCarver, Jim Kaat, Joe Buck and Bob Costas were available, you would wouldn't you?

Therefore, if Martin Tyler, Ian Darke (who worked the '94 Cup for ESPN) etc. are available why not use them?

Americans with very few exceptions cannot broadcast soccer and I"m American so I think I'm a credible source on this one.

O'Brien has parachuted in, with ABC/ESPN's plan that  he'll bring the fringe viewer into the mix.

ABC/ESPN already realize the hard core viewer is there no matter what so it's the fringe viewer that is courted for advertising purposes.

Also, how could the USA-CZECH game not be on national, free tv as opposed to cable television (ESPN)? This should be a prerequisite for whomever is granted the rights.  Considering all other nations declare their teams' games national holidays is this alot to ask?

Derek Rae, for all his fine work during the Champions League campaign has been rewarded by being buried in obscurity.

Glen Davis is the worst, I"m pretty sure he was fired by Fox Soccer Channel a long time ago.

JP Dellacamera broadcasts soccer like a hockey game, refusing to let the game's leisurely pace speak for itself.
I can't tell you how happy it feels to find some like-minded, irritated World Cup fans.

Honestly, I can handle all of the announcers, with the exception of the always loud, boorish, one-note, clueless, dumb American vibe of O'Brien and Balboa.

I switch to Univision when they're on and I know not one word of Spanish. If you can, do it. You'll be much happier.
Yeah, O'Brien's ignorant, but some of your criticism is off-base.  You have to understand why the announcers are there to begin with.

When O'Brien asks Balboa why a particular substitution is being made, he's just setting up the analyst to explain something to the audience (usually at the prompting of the director in his earpiece).  The announcers aren't sitting around having a conversation like you and I do -- they're providing context, background and information to the audience in the format of a conversation.  The fact that you mistake it for spontaneous dialogue suggests the announcers aren't incompetent -- er, just oblivious.

You may think this is bull, but it's the way it is.
Here is the press release from ESPN, EPSN2, and ABC for this years Commentators (with bios):


I was glad to wake up and hear Healey and Smyth on the Spain-Ukraine match. But, knew that the rest of the afternoon would be a nightmare.

And of course Shepp Messing and Glenn Davis did not dissapoint. Here are a few quotes:

"He is grabbing his LEFT foot" said while the camera showed a close up of the Saudi goalie sitting and grabbing his RIGHT foot!

"Maybe this is what Dirk Norwitzki was thinking about when he missed that free throw with 3 seconds to go last night"

"That's the definition of a yellow card"

"Two different theories. Saudi Arabia going with all DOMESTIC players. Tunisia has gone out of the realm of Tunisian players and have even naturalized players. Most of their roster is made up of guys playing in Europe, Saudi Arabia; all DOMESTIC players"

"This is out of a movie script"

"This is a miracle"

"...comes off the bench and proves that he (Al Jaber)is still breathing"

I hit the mute button after that last one and went to the net to find an audio feed for the Germany-Poland match. I found this link and was spared the vocal stylings of O'Brien and Balboa:


You may be right.  I don't know what happens in the back rooms, but I can say:  Do you really think it can be a good thing for the announcers to come off as not knowing the characteristics of the players in front of them?  Also, how do non-U.S. announcers manage to not sound so inane?

It still seems to me that there must be some deficit in the U.S. announcers.  If you're right, and it's really the system, then lawd does that system need to be pitched.
I'm going to defend O'Brien a little: his call for the Germany-Poland match was a huge improvement on earlier games, as was Balboa's. He took a day off on Tuesday, and that may have given him the chance to catch his breath and realise that you don't have to talk every single moment. He seemed to have the rhythm right for those amazing last few minutes, and for the first time, I didn't feel inclined to flip over to Univision. Simple rules: throw away the book of local travel trivia, and just learn the players' names and a little bit of their background, as well as the history between the teams.

O'Brien asked Balboa, in a mystified tone, "so why does Klinsman decide to sub Neuville for Klose at this time?" I just about jumped up and down yelling at the TV: "Because Neuville is one of the wiliest strikers in the world, and is a perfect man to bring in to poach a late goal when a game is not quite winding down the way you're hoping".

To be fair, I think that's Balboa's job, not O'Brien's. But in those early matches, O'Brien wasn't on top of the PBP, meaning that Balboa was chipping in. For Germany-Poland, they seemed to have divided their labour better.

It does feel as if ESPN is learning on the job: the coverage has definitely improved over the past three days. The later games have included -- about time! -- the entrance and anthems, and we've had the lineups announced before kick-off. That makes a difference. The audio mix is up, so we get to hear the crowd. That makes a difference.

You're right.  I have noticed a mild improvement, and I should give them a bit of credit.  But why do they have to go through the entire first round of games before learning the basics of presenting football?  ESPN is hardly a newcomer to the sport.  Even if they were, I'm sure there are many consultants available who could have told them that the audio mix should include the stadium atmosphere, that football fans like to understand the club and country spectum of the players, etc.  They announcers could have been given glossaries of common footballing terms so they didn't have to make up their own outlandish expressions on the spot.  That last point is not just language snobbery.  The odd usage is quite distracting.

So I'll admit that there ahs been soe improvement, but much more is needed, and it's still disgraceful that ESPN still needs to be tinkering this far into the biggest sporting event on Earth.
I'm hoping that there's a decent pair for the England game today. I found this list googling dave obrien world cup. I'm glad there are other people out there who think he's dreadful. balboa's not much better.
Again, the petition to ESPN to replace O'Brien (and in general use real soccer (football) announcers of quality, even if from other networks or England.


Again, the petition to ESPN to replace O'Brien (and in general use real soccer (football) announcers of quality, even if from other networks or England.

Like the rest, I would rather watch on the Spanish channel. If I have to hear about a "thunder bolt" strike (thunder bolt?) again I will throw my boot through the T.V. O'brien and the scrolling boxes ruin the coverage compleatly. It seems liek this knucklehead has a stat sheet to read about each team and that is it. Little heart warming annecdotes and tidbits that have no football relevance. "Tragically, his fence fell down last week in a great storm".

The only decent announcers are Healey and Smith...or the Spanish network announcers. Whatever their accent of English, they comment about the play and the soccer significance of play, tactics, history, club vs. national team play, and what the team or players should be doing with certain defences or at certain times of the game, etc. etc.

People who don't understand soccer learn by the excitement in the announcers voice and their knowledge of the sport...not by recognizing the announcer from their baseball announcing career.

I was at a bar where we agreed to watch the Spanish network to 1) have an announcer who was interested and got excited at the right time, and 2) to to avoid the total boredom and embarassment of the ESPN/ABC announcers.

But we're preaching to the converted.

Won't they ever learn? They did the same thing with the olymmpics and World Cup in the past, and never learned the lesson.
How can we go on... typing and reading all this gibberish?  Viewers in America, I tell you this: our problem is very simple, our announcers consist of outdated fools and potheads.  Oh, let me compose myself... Marcelo, John Harkes and whoever that other fool is... how sad you make America look!  I wish someone would inform these professional American idiots about the correct pronunciation of the many world-class players involved in the Cup.  But lets stop all this banter... our real problem is that U.S. soccer (MLS) and the U.S. Media desires so greatly to compare itself to European/South American football.  You horrible wretched fools!  Your only experience is in losing various World Cups and International Football competitions.  The public cannot recall your shallow and short lived existence!  If only the American people could see how pathetic and distanced you are from real European and South American footballers.  Could you picture Marcelo talking to Thierry Henry... nah, Marcelo is too much of a geezer to know anything outside of the American Idiot box language.  You played the same sport, but there is nothing more parallel in your relationship.  Should I really waste the time and effort exposing the American Media's foul up of the World Cup???  I should...  Why?  Because so many Americans believe in their expert opinion...  It's all right my fellow Americans, I was a high school soccer player, but lost interest...  yet my knowledge far expands those of the plebeians you hear on ESPN... I acquired my knowledge from friends and Fox Soccer Channel... it's very easy... don't believe the hype - fuck the American press - they get paid to dupe us all.
Who is the idiot that is providing "color" commentary in the US v. Italy game.  I just saw a flagrant foul at minute 69 when the Italians pushed a US player from behind and the commentator said it was not a yellow cardable offense - Duh!
Worst of all is Glenn Davis, to my mind. His commentary style alternates between drearily banal and semi-hysterical. "Unbelievable!!" he shrieked as someone - I forget now which team it was - scored a good, but basically routine goal, the kind of goal you can see in any top-class league on any game day. It's either little glimpses of the pellucidly obvious, or else it's "Brilliant! Brialliant!"  He seems to have been watching too many Guiness commercials.
I finally couldn't take it and had to go get on the computer to vent.  OMG!  How fucking horrible is O'Brien.  I can't even really blame him, except for his obvious arrogance in even thinking he could commentate the World's sport knowing absolutely nothing about it.  Has he ever even seen a soccer match before the '06 World Cup?  Any match?  AYSO match maybe? 

Anyway, I know I'm not alone at least.

HERE'S THE SITE TO ABC to email a complaint!  DO IT NOW!

O'Brien is indeed terrible.  I went to abc and used their feedback form to tell them how bad he is:


I'm switching to the spanish station for the rest of the World Cup.
It really is a shame that announcers were not capable of articulating the excellent US achievment against Italy.

Espn are really shooting themseves in the foot!
haha, can you actually believe the balboa would even think to say that david beckham and ronaldinho would play MLS? I mean, come on...MLS sucks...the fields are way to short and leave no room for any real skill...MLS is the league you play for if you aren't good enough to play Premier soccer. As for Balboa? That guy won't ever stop kissing someones ass or bitching about how the US team (who really shouldnt be ranked #5 in the world since they aren't that good and only play bad teams) is being robbed. I don't care if you are the greatest soccer player in the world, that doesn't mean you can be a good commentator. As for the last previous posts...change it to telemundo or univision...GOAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
Personally, I wish I had ESPN on my cable here in the UK because this guy sounds hilarious!  Two comedy values... 1) the things he says 2) my boyfriends increasing rage as he corrects him!

Seriously though it must be annoying, I know I am getting hacked off with Mark Lawrenson continually harking back to the war - honestly, didn't someone remind him that finished and that now really isn't the time?

I'm not sure if this would work but have you tried hooking up to the BBC website and listening to 5 Live while the match is on the TV?  I'm almost 100% certain they give commentary on all the games and for you serious footie fans it could be the way forward.  Just a thought.

I have been watching the spanish channel even though i don't know any spanish only because i can bear to listen to this o brien guy.  he kills me.  My favorite comment was when was comparing someone on the german team to Shaq.  He said that it is kind of like when shaq posts up you need to get on the inside of the big guy and pick up the rebound... are you kidding me? it is nothing like shaq.  Is this guy even on the right planet. Please please replace him with anyone else.
It’s a plot to keep soccer from overtaking US sports ... the idea is not to get new American soccer viewers and fans, but to keep them away - they could be lost to games with proper respect for commercials.  After all who do you think is paying for this coverage? And how do you expect to make money on a game with neither time-outs nor quarters?  … But seriously, O'Brien is awful, just woeful, I find his cadence the most irritating, Adrianne Healy is the best although his side kick, Tommy Smyth can be annoying too – for instance his ‘rattling de ould onion bag’ and  the like but at least his voice has the right tone for the sport . O’Brien has a baseball cadence to his commentary.  It just doesn’t work.  What were they thinking? He is constantly being bailed out by Balboa.  The other two I have heard, JD and Shep something or other is not so bad but that remember is in comparison to Mr. O’Brien...  I've just watched Brazil Australia.  Sigh.  Balboa couldn’t have been too skillful; he should be stopped from the way he admires fouls, the other day … what a great foul … never heard fouls being praised so much
The commentators that ESPN has chosen for the World Cup was horrible to say the least. I sent them a letter way back in February to let them know I will not be watching the games on their channels because of this fact. They just don't care, it's as simple as that.

On the other hand the refs that FIFA have chosen for the World Cup are not a whole lot better!!!
I have switched to the Spanish TV.How in heavens name can one man talk so much.I dont want to know any more the details of their life.They chatter as an important play is on.OK for all American sports but not soccer.It is a miserable example how the media believes they are more impotant than the event
I tried the BBC coverage, but it's not available for most matches (in the US, at least).  I also tried the Sun website, and while I can hear the introductory commercial, the actual coverage is silent.  Anyone get these to work?  Thanks.
I didn't get a chance to watch the Brasil match against Australia until late Monday and I am flabbergasted at the low rent comments by M. Balboa regarding Ronaldo.  Its clear that Balboa does not know much about world class futbol.  Calling Ronaldo a "Bloated waste of space" on national TV is beyond stupid.  Not only is Ronaldo a national hero in Brasil and highly regarded in any nation that appreciates and respects great futbol players, I would think that the Brasil coach knows a little more about what he wants to accomplish with his teams and the players he starts in the first round.  Balboa, you would make a great commentator if you kept your mouth shut the entire match!
I don't speak Spanish but I switched to Univision after the first week, I couldn't take ABC/ESPN any more.  My brother was getting so mad during the Iran /Mexico game because that idiot O'brien was ignoring the action on the field and kept talking about the politics and the Iranian President. 

Then we have those damned black boxes covering up the action, what the hell is that? ABC should get a clue.

It's been a much better exprience watching Univision.
I absolutely agree with all of you here, besides those who think it is justified that they are using an completely uneducated (football wise, or excuse me 'soccer') and deafening announcer like O'Brien.  I am a former DI soccer player and played with many guys from Europe, who made it obvious that Europeans still view us as a sub-par soccer country, and this only exsacerbates this notion.  Not to mention, I get sick listening to this clown (Balboa at least knows the game, he is just a poor announcer, and JP and Harkes I think are good), O'Brien really needs to be fired immediately it is ruining the finals.  Guys, check out the link above, you can contact ABC sports and blast them for this, maybe we can get them to change (though I highly doubt it), but do it!!
From a commercial perspective it is not unreasonable of ESPN to use a "name" like O'Brien for the marquee games. They want to attract marginal viewers and figure that familiarity trumps accuracy & authority. 

Further it's reasonable for any US coverage to use terminology (pk, end-line, shoots the ball) that US viewers might be more familiar or comfortable with.  Sure it grates but I know that back in England there is constant complaint over the various shades of dreadful commentary (sorry....announcing). 

While "reasobable", however, it sure don't make it good.  Even the English guy is a tit and prone to classic hyperbolic overstatement.  The Spanish when 1-0 down were "staring into the abyss", apparently; regardless of their opening win and a date with the hapless Saudis.

I think the best way to deal with O'brien et al,  is to turn the coverage into some kind of early mornning drinking game and try and get a few minutes pleasure out of it before switching to our daily Spanish classes after 10 minutes.  Granted this is tricky with the moronic, dumbass, loudmouth uberdick that is Marcelo Balboa.  There's nothing reasobable about him. Nothing.
From a commercial perspective it is not unreasonable of ESPN to use a "name" like O'Brien for the marquee games. They want to attract marginal viewers and figure that familiarity trumps accuracy & authority. 

Further it's reasonable for any US coverage to use terminology (pk, end-line, shoots the ball) that US viewers might be more familiar or comfortable with.  Sure it grates but I know that back in England there is constant complaint over the various shades of dreadful commentary (sorry....announcing). 

While "reasobable", however, it sure don't make it good.  Even the English guy is a tit and prone to classic hyperbolic overstatement.  The Spanish when 1-0 down were "staring into the abyss", apparently; regardless of their opening win and a date with the hapless Saudis.

I think the best way to deal with O'brien et al,  is to turn the coverage into some kind of early mornning drinking game and try and get a few minutes pleasure out of it before switching to our daily Spanish classes after 10 minutes.  Granted this is tricky with the moronic, dumbass, loudmouth uberdick that is Marcelo Balboa.  There's nothing reasobable about him. Nothing.
From a commercial perspective it is not unreasonable of ESPN to use a "name" like O'Brien for the marquee games. They want to attract marginal viewers and figure that familiarity trumps accuracy & authority. 

Further it's reasonable for any US coverage to use terminology (pk, end-line, shoots the ball) that US viewers might be more familiar or comfortable with.  Sure it grates but I know that back in England there is constant complaint over the various shades of dreadful commentary (sorry....announcing). 

While "reasobable", however, it sure don't make it good.  Even the English guy is a tit and prone to classic hyperbolic overstatement.  The Spanish when 1-0 down were "staring into the abyss", apparently; regardless of their opening win and a date with the hapless Saudis.

I think the best way to deal with O'brien et al,  is to turn the coverage into some kind of early mornning drinking game and try and get a few minutes pleasure out of it before switching to our daily Spanish classes after 10 minutes.  Granted this is tricky with the moronic, dumbass, loudmouth uberdick that is Marcelo Balboa.  There's nothing reasobable about him. Nothing.
I'm glad to find that I'm not the only one that can't stand the announcing. JP Dellacamera is absolutely horrible.  I'm watching the Netherlands Argentina game and I'm just about to mute the sound.  I just can't take it anymore.  He is pathetic and it's apparent he know very little about soccer.
O'Brian is the worst thing to happen to this World Cup....

haha, can you actually believe the balboa would even think to say that david beckham and ronaldinho would play MLS?

Hey James, you act like star players don't ever go to a lesser league when their careers wind down.  THEY DO IT ALL THE TIME!!!  Schillaci went to Japan, Batistuta and Romario went to Qatar, and Donadoni and Lothar Matthaus came to MLS.  Let's also not forget that Pele, Chinaglia, and Beckenbaur all came to play for the New York Cosmos when their careers were over.

Why did they do it?  FOR MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The players that come to MLS do it for money and a better life for their family in the United States.

Beckham would be smart to come to MLS and seriously crack the American commercial market.  Think about all the commercials he would be featured in if he was playing in MLS.  You don't think that a companies like Nike and Gatorade wouldn't love to have Beckham in commercials?!
ESPN not only has horrible commentators (Healy and Smith are honourable exceptions, in my opinion) but they also have horrible policies.

What genius decreed that when two games are being played simultaneously, one on ESPN and the other on ESPN2, the updated score of the game you aren't watching has to be stuffed down your throat whether you like it or not? Doesn't it occur to these ninnies that people have VCRs, and may want to watch two games one after the other without having the second one spoiled. If one does want to know what's happening in the other game one can simply flip channels - so what's the problem?

The truth is it's media arrogance. They don't give a damn about the viewer. It's all about them. Fortunately we'll be out of this phase shortly, but for me it's another black mark against ESPN.
I suggest they let Chris Sullivan speak more.  This guy has played the game since he was a little guy.  Heck I used to live across the street from him and he was totally dedicated to the game - I am sure he is dedicated to it now.

Let him speak for our sake.

Thank You!
Brazil-Japan game is on, but you couldn't tell listening to the commentary - er - announcing. They are still talking about the US game.
I have never seen a more anticlimatic style of sports broadcasting. I was watching Spain - Saoudi Arabia earlier. The ESPN broadcaseters were hardly calling any plays at all. When a goal was scored, they had a difficult time hiding the fact that tey didn't care one bit about it. In fact, they spent the next 10 minutes making fun of the Spanish broadcasting team, because they were excited, and they were screaming so loud you could actually hear them (which isn't difficult, since the ESPN crew was so calm and quiet). And then, the ESPN broadcaster says this: (Get ready for this one) "I bet when they woke up this morning, our audience never thought they would be hearing Spanish on their TV sets while watching this game."

I guess no Latino in their right mind would actually listen to those fools, and they know it...
Well, looks like Balboa will have to swallow his foot along with his shoe.  The "Blooded Waste of Space" as he called Ronaldo in the game against Australia put away Japan in his classic style, not to mention he is now poised to be the all time leading scorer in world cup history.  Balboa, if you only had learned something about international futbol instead of MLS soccer you might have something to offer as a commentator.  There is no hope for our team with your kind around!  What an embarrassment! Have some respect! ABC, is this the best you can offer?
I thought Glenn Davis was worse than Dave O’Brien, but I’m beginning to change my mind. O’Brien is indeed as bad as his critics say. (I thought he had even improved a little. I apologise! He hasn’t.) O’Brien has the effrontery to demand the ouster of bad referees, but he doesn’t say anything about bad broadcasters. I’d rather keep all the second-rate referees (no shortage of them) at the World Cup, yellow cards and all, if we could just get rid of the third-rate announcers. And frankly, I disagree with those who would prefer the Spanish-speaking commentators. If I hear that idiotic cliché “GOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!” one more time from one of these self-indulgent putzes, I’ll jump out of the window (we’re on the 15th floor.

To top it all, at the end of the Switzerland-Korea game I hear Adrian Healey and Tommy Smith, who are head and shoulders above these other imbeciles, bidding us farewell. They won’t be doing any more of the games. Their assignments are finished, and we’re stuck with O’Brien et al. Ugh.

Well, the rest of the games will be staggered as before, so at least ESPN will be denied the smug satisfaction they evidently derive from the constant ‘updating’ of the other game that is being played at the same time as the game one is watching, and which one would have liked to watch afterwards without having much of its interest taken away by knowing the result in advance. (On video-tape, ESPN – yes, ESPN, surprise. We have VCRs. And if we actually want a bloody update, we can perfectly easily switch over to your other putrid announcers on the other channel.)

ESPN sucks. Totally, completely SUCKS.
As I understand it, many people in England do not like Tommy Smyth's commentary.  I find him entertaining and instructive.  But at a higher level, the sad fact for American audiences is that only when Adrian and Tommy are announcing a game do you not feel that something alien has taken over the game.  They understand the game, they are accustomed to announcing them, they add their own comments in the context of the game as it is actually being played, and they focus on the things that viewers can actually see on the pitch, and they also occasionally shut their mouths.

O'Brien is the worst of the bunch.  At one point in the Brazil game Australia, at about the "60th minute" (Would someone please tell these morons that there is a clock on the screen, so if we want to know what "minute' the game is in we can see for ourselves...and if they want to sound like British announcers, then they should use an adverb other than "really" or "very") the Australians were beginning to mount a very effective attack.  They were controlling the middle third, and in the approach to the 18 yard line they were making crisp, probing passes and looking for all the world like they were preparing to score.  O'Brien took just that moment to say "It looks like the Australians are beginning to realize they're up against a superior team."

WTF?  Did he make some pregame notes that called for him to say that...at the 60th minute?

Yesterday there was a hysterically funny moment.  Near the beginning of the second half of the Tunisia-Ukraine game (which ought to be investigated as a possible fix, by the way) he said something like "when teams go down to ten men they become very dangerous becuase they play with more focus"...some sort of mindless claptrap like that, and just as he finished his statement they flash a graphic on the screen "No team has scored with 10 men in the 2006 World Cup".  Maybe even the production guys in the trailer are sick of him.

But really, the other American teams are not much better.  Talk to much.  Know too little.  Too much emphasis on emotional state rather than what can actually be seen.  It's really dreadful.  And who is that color commentator twirp who has some sort of Tourrette's Syndrome that causes him to use the word "really" three times in each sentence.  It's unbearable.

ABC - shame on you.
I agree completely w/ all the comments here, except those defending these American announcers who are simply not up to the task.  (BTW I'm American, 100%)  I'm not a huge "onion bag" Tommy fan, but he and Adrian are the class of the bunch, and where are they from?  Britain.  If you want world class announcers, you've got to see who the world listens to when world class games are televised in the English language.  Hey ABC, were the listening public, and were not uninformed any more!  Not since Fox Soccer Channel and GolTV started bringing us real top flight games and announcers!  And what genius came up w/ the idea of hiding the action behind graphics?  Did we tune in to watch ABC's graphics, and its command of meaningless statistics?  Who cares how many times a team has failed to do this, after it did that?  There's a game on!  A live game w/ the outcome undecided, if only we could get rid of the graphics and actually see it.  I'm done.  Just glad to see I'm not the only one infuriated by ABC's travesty.  If only we could get the BBC's feeds.
I have been sorely disappointed with the announcing. As a newcomer to soccer I was hoping to learn about the teams and players when I watched the game. Instead, even with my limited knowledge I can't help shouting at my t.v. If ESPN wants to convert more americans to soccer fandom it seems to make more sense for them to have knowledgeable, experienced commentators...I really do not understand the point of having Dave O'Brien, et al around.
My favourite cock-up moment so far in this World Cup (and there have been many) has to be when the commentators did not realize Shaka Hislop replaced Kelvin Jack in goal just before the match started.  The proceeded to call Hislop Jack for the first THIRTEEN MINUTES of the match before they "realized."  Their excuse?  The FIFA team sheets hadn't shown the change....but come on!!!  ANY commentator worth his salt would have noticed Hislop in goal...especially as he made a couple of good saves early on.

Another good one was when O'Brien called England Germany, but that was early on.  I also seem to remember them discussing the difference between Lampard and Gerrard...Lampard was a defense-minded midfielder and Gerrard was the more attacking of the two.  Last time I checked Lampard scored 16 goals in the Premiership last season - 4th most.  Gerrard scored 10.

It just really amazes me that they can't even get the basics right...and the in depth analysis is just completely absent.

I'm just waiting for a goal to be scored when those annoying black boxes are up...i will go ape shit. (especially as this World Cup has seen more goals under 10 minutes than any other).

But look on the brightside, my fellow American residents - at least its not as bad as the Winter Olympics. :)
I'm so glad to see others voicing their disgust and disappointment with ESPN/ABC's World Cup 2006 commentators (announcers). All of them except for Tommy Smyth and Adrian Healy are egregious (or should I say they suck bigtime!). I usually mute them or watch the game on Spanish channels, although I don't understand Spanish.

For those who want to write comments to ESPN, here's a link:


I've complained to ESPN (even during World Cup 2002) a bunch of times, and they still have the gumption to stick with such annoying morons - who don't know the game, who have no ability to call a game and who are simply not good enough for such a job. Why not have Derek Rae, Adrian Healy and Tommy Smyth, go separately, maybe with one moron each - Dave O Brien, JPDellacamera and whoever else (oh yes - Glenn Davis). Or just let them go with one ex-US player each?

Comparisons to NBA - Shaq going low on the post,  1v1, not knowing which countries/players are playing, calling Robben as Cocu (in today's game NED vs. POR) and what not!

Also, I can understand why ESPN/ABC (being US TV channels) would like to remind their viewers of USA's upcoming games. Ever since the Czech Republic thrashed the US (3-0), they have reminded you of the upcoming US game - almost every 15 mins of every following match. That's just bad form. And to do it so many times during every match - that's quite presumptuous!

All in all, I only hope Adrian Healy and Tommy Smyth are on for the semis & finals. God save us from ESPN or I should probably just do what somebody else suggested. Watch the games on TV with good/proper commentary from the Web.
I watch sports infrequently.  There is more to life.....

Having said this when I come in from outside of your normal listening audience and spot announcing like that of the  England v. Ecuador match being as awful as it was, it is fair to say this could be a deterrent for anyone to want to view the game.  Two options come to mind while watching this match.

1.  Invite announcers that can announce the game without bringing in personal views about the game or players.  Tell us the match and perhaps the strategy at hand, if they know it.

2.  No announcing at all.  Just let the sound of the game play as if we were at the match.  It would be much better than listening to your announcers.

I do believe that somewhere through this match I learned to tune out the announcers because of there inability to describe the game as it was played today.  I know nothing of their background, because it doesn't matter, these two should not announce the World Cup games.
Kevin is quite right, these stupid graphics hiding the action on the field are just infuriating. Unfortunately it’s something that all US television stations do compulsively, whether it’s the NFL, the NBA, baseball, golf or whatever – an inevitable accompaniment to watching any sport on TV. They just HAVE to tell you how many left-handed pitchers with three testicles have played in games between the Toledo Mud-Hens and the Kentucky Jail-Birds since the clubs were formed.

Why do they feel compelled to do this? I think actually it’s something that goes very deep in the American psyche. Americans think that they must (and CAN!) IMPROVE everything. And they think we NEED them to explain things to us. We’re too stupid to understand what we are seeing without their help. Broadcasters feel they need to supply ‘context’, so we get this blizzard of wearisome statistics all over the screen in case we don’t know or sufficiently understand what we are watching (or trying to watch). And we have to be reminded every few minutes what happens to the team that loses. (“…Lose and you go home!”, declaimed our commentator for about the thirtieth time as the Portugal-Netherlands battle drew to a close, in case we had overlooked this subtle point.) People with grasshopper minds have to be ‘entertained’ every minute too, so they insist on playing idiot games with us like voting for Man of the Match – to make things even MORE interesting and exciting! I doubt that many viewers give a flying fart about Man of the Match, but they’ve accepted sponsorship fees for it from T-Mobile (THERE’S a cellphone company to avoid!) so it has to be force-fed to us. But this sort of thing is a universal phenomenon in the US. Go to a baseball game over here (if you are British or European, and visit this country), and you will discover that no moment is allowed to go by without the public address system demanding that you ‘name that tune’, or some similar rubbish. They can’t shut up for two minutes together.

Remember the NASL and the NY Cosmos? If you do you may recall that the NASL decided to ‘improve’ the game by introducing a 35-yard line, outside which the attacking team could not be offside, and tried to get FIFA to adopt it! Not altogether a bad idea in itself, though I’m not sure it made much practical difference. Characteristic of the American lack of humility however was their evident belief that THEY could take the game that the rest of the world had been playing for decades, and MAKE IT BETTER!  Soccer needed more goals, they decided. Not enough goals was, and still is, the traditional excuse of old-time American ignoramus sports writers for hating and despising soccer. (Their real reason is fear, of course.)  Imagine if the rest of the world started to play baseball, and decided to change the strike zone and introduce an optical device to monitor the home-plate umpire – you can imagine the hullabaloo. No, no, no, this is America’s game, you can’t change it! (What will become of all our beautiful and – since both equipment and ball fields have changed greatly over the years – now meaningless statistics, compiled so lovingly and for so long?!) 

But when it comes to soccer, they’re ready, like Ford, with their Better Ideas!
Very depressing...

Marcelo Balboa constantly referring to what he did as a player.  What he would do if he were in there.

He constantly maligns the soccer's greatest stars.  Focuses all the prob;lems on them.

John Harkes.

Same business.

PIcks on every star.  Beckham shouldn't be on the field you say?  What game is he watching?

Shep Messing was just annoying.

Dave O'Brien is a fool.

Brent Musburger?  What made someone think he has any idea about any sport?

And the king of fools to Eric Wynalda.  Has nothing good to say about anyone.

I like Ronaldo.  Now, because of these fools, I cheer loudly every time he touches the ball.  As if every goal he scores, sends the ignorant, non-athletic trio of Balboa, Wynalda, and Harkes to the unemployment line.
The O'Brien/Balboa World Cup commentary Fiasco contnues on ABC/EWTN

Yep! Our very own Laurel and Hardy.

Yesterday we had the (groan) England game commentary .. replete with all the

gratuitous crap we've come to expect. Stuff I'm dying to hear right in the middle of game play .. 'England last

played a Final in 1966'... wow! Humidity and  Captions drop like graffiti ink blots all over the screen while

(for the dyslexics among us) Laurel and Hardy simultaneously drone out the same

earth shattering inconsequential message ..'The ground condition is good '

Who the f**k cares? I'm trying to follow game play here for Christ's sake?

Give me stuff like that before the game if you must. 

Hey pot heads! You only need to just TELL me. I've got 2 ears.. see.

Same number as your brain cells. I don't need a quarter screen caption dangled before me, right

in front of the football field. 

Todays Italy match was a peach .. How many times did the ink blot

drop to tell us Italy were playing with 10 men? I lost count. And what's with all the shooting

tickertape garbage top and bottom. I swear I'll never buy anything made by addidas, Vonage or

the rest of them again.  And who's the little woman sitting in a cubicle somewhere pressing

those Ink blot buttons anyway? Will somebody please shoot her? It's got to be a woman doesn't it.

Nobody else could screw up soccer games like that.

Meanwhile Laurel and Hardy rattle on - each pushing their own brand of verbal diarrhoea.

Could someone please tell them .. you really don't have to talk ALL the time. Pace the game. Good Soccer

teams do it. Stay relevant. I mean even remotely relevant.  Get excited when a goal is scored  - not 10 seconds later.

And get your ADD treated

Anyone know who's scheduled to cover the Final, when it comes? Not L and H I hope.

By comparison with this sad twosome, todays (Mondays) Ukraine/Switzerland match was

(at least to my mind) a pleasure to watch, despite the still over abundant ink blots. 

Dellacamara and buddy (Marcel?) kept a steady sober commentary going

that had authority and a bit of gravitas (sorry about the big words but I'm not sure how you

spell Dellawhatsit}. Anyway - they were good, I thought. Can they do the Final please?

But who the hell ever picked those other two?

Balbao might be a good footballer (I never heard of him - I'm in USA from Europe)  but being a good footballer is a million miles

from being a good commentator. As for O'Brien .. enough said.

By the way, do they both really sit with their backs to the game? That would explain everything



June, 27 2006

I have to agree with the negative comments about the ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC commentators for this World Cup.  They're awful!

Case in point, Marcelo Balboa's constant nagging and attempt to discredit Brazil's performance against Ghana.  He continually referred to the great effort on Ghana's part, which I did agree with, but then kept saying how poor Brazil were playing.  Noone shone, but it was a collective team performance.

Agreed it was not a sparkling performance on Brazil's part, but they scored three goals, didn't allow any against a team who was continually prasied, and put in a professional performance.  Didn't it occur to Marcelo that perhaps when Brazil saw that they had the game under control they let off a little to conserve energy for the next game(s)?

From someone who played football the level of ignorance was amazing.  Sometimes when you don't have anything good to say it's better to say nothing at all (especially if you are on TV!). 

I've watched a few games at sports bars where there was no audio and I have to say that it's a lot better. 

Come on commentators, there are a few games left, try to do a better job.

Jason Assam
Would Univision please get HD so I don't have to listen to the trash from these World Cup announcers.  Balboa is absolutely terrible.  It is too bad because he was actually a pretty good soccer player for the US, but now doesn't seem to have any knowledge of the game.  I am the hardest on him because he is supposed to know what he's talking about.  The other announcers pretty much have no soccer experience so who cares what they say.  I will give Balboa some credit, he can correctly identify David Beckham.  An announcer in the first game called him Michael Beckman, which must have been some cross of Owen/Beckham.  Balboa however, spent the first half of England's last game saying Beckham shouldn't start for England.  Then he scores a goal and Balboa continues to trash Beckham.  I am also sick of hearing about Brazil underachieving.  They have won all their games, they have scored loads of goals.  According to Balboa they have great players but don't play well as a team and if they keep playing the way they are playing they won't get by teams like France or Spain.  What is wrong with him?  If Brazil doesn't win 6-0, they aren't playing well as a team?  I guess I'd rather have a bunch of good individuals that beat Ghana 3-0 than the "best US team ever assembled" and lose 2-1.  I think ESPN should imagine the Super Bowl being covered by English announcers/annalysts and rethink the idea of having the World Cup covered by second class soccer minds.  (In case you didn't hear it mentioned one of the million times during the  Mexico/Argentina game, Crespo was credited for Argentina's first goal although the announcer felt it should have been an own goal).
1.  "Imagine if the rest of the world started to play baseball, and decided to change the strike zone and introduce an optical device to monitor the home-plate umpire – you can imagine the hullabaloo. No, no, no, this is America’s game, you can’t change it!"

---Actually, that would be a great idea! (along with instant replay, how many games of this world cup have been decided by refs!)

2.  Half the issue with the announcers is the need to talk for the length of the game.  Hence they expoind on a point once - Brazil's timing is off / Ghana's defensive line is playing too far forward - and keep going back to that comment over and over. This is best demonstrated by Balboa, who was a professional soccer player and knows more about the game than anyone writing for this blog but struggles to fill 90 minutes.

Must be same problem with Tommy Smyth, who has websites dedicated to complaining about his coverage (he has called over 1000 games by the way, so good or bad, it is not inexperience).
I love it!  I am now taking satisfaction in the fact that the "Bloated Waste of Space" (Ronaldo) according to Balboa is now the record holder of most goals in the history of the worldcup.  I really wonder if Balboa actually understands that achievement.  I think not, cause the only role model he can think of in soccer because he never played fooball, must be himself!  Being incapable of understanding the game of Football, is not hard for him to dismiss even the great ones. Respect and admiration for the greatest game in the world is not something you can get from osmosis Balboa.  You are an embarrassment to yourself not to mention our country!

From the words of another great one, Gerd der Bomber Muller, "he’s the best, most complete attacker there is at the moment." Even if its not true, that's called respect Balboa.

ABC, are you still employing this Balboa?  What a shame, a Real Waste of Space! 

Who knows, maybe Ronaldo will coach the USA some day and ABC can hire Balboa to have around just for laughs!

you really think that Balboa was a great professional soccer player?  Please!!!! He was a B player at best in the USA! Just don't call him a football player because he never was that.  He never made even the pine (the bench) in a premier team or any team in Europe otherwise he would have.  That means there he would be less than a "C" player.

Lets remember, Balboa is recognized mostly for his near miss on a bicycle kick at the 1994 FIFA World Cup against Colombia that's it!
Unfortunately commentary gaff of the tournament has been snatched away from O'B & B - they had previously held the whole top 10.  Step forward Tommy Smyth. His histrionics at the decision to give the 2nd Swiss goal agains Korea were a pure joy. Both adamant and shrill he squealed "it came off the defender but that doesn't matter!!!" (or v similar).

So he's called a thousand games but doesn't know the rules - I'd call that a sackable offence. Class act.

And as for Balboa being a player. Did you ever see him. He sucked. They seem to have found something he's worse at. He'll probably get the FEMA job.

Go limeys. wooh.
The Worst Announcer Title goes to JPD.  I found it particularly amusing that he found ceatively dumb ways to talk about the US team in matches that did not involve them.  He also likes to repeat every 15 minutes how we can "watch all 64 games in glorious high-defintion on ABC-HD, ESPN-HD and ESPN2-HD".  Stop the madness already!

Despite all the criticism leveled against him, I don't think O'Brien is that bad.  He is no Martin Tyler but considering his pedigree, he is doing a decent job.

Balboa is the worst analyst.  His comments lack the incite you normally expect from someone in his position.  He also likes to change his tone when he is trying to make a point:  "THAT'S when you have to...".

Harkes is not much better, with  his voice cracking with every other word and butchering major player names like Zidane.  Atleast he has more inciteful things to say that Balboa.

The only positive thing about the US coverage of WC is the HD treatment.
AMEN TO EVERYONE WHO SAYS THAT AMERICAN ANNOUNCERS STICK'ETH!!!  I must admit that ABC/ESPN did a terrible terrible terrible job in getting announcers.  The only decent american might be JP...but Adrian and Tommy are the bomb (at least with this years World Cup announcing).

I stronly recommend you all to write ESPN and tell them how poorly they've done this go around with their selection of announcers.  I just did!

I just called ESPN after the Germany-Argentina game, which was a new low for the knucklehead team of Dave O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa.  O'Brien consistently mispronounced Oliver Neuville's last name.  Balboa at the start of PKs said the Argentina keeper had the advantage because he wasn't as tired (what?!?!), but after PKs he announced that going into the shootout, Germany had the advantage because they had Lehmann.

The ESPN person told me that O'Brien played soccer.  Yeah, I said, he played high school soccer in the 1980s.  Which is roughly equivalent to saying you played high school baseball in England.
I think soccer fans are whiny! Just watch the game and ignore the commentators you bunch of cry-babies!
The ESPN/ABC commentary teams are quite irritating, in particular, Marcel Balboa who shares the optimism of his namesake "Rocky" and keeps reminding us "it's not over yet" every time Kasey Keller retrieves the ball from the back of his net. Wasn't it him who brought our attention to the 'world-famous Michael Beckham and his wife Victoria Posh'.

John Harkes has, IMHO, provided the least irritating analysis although he is chiefly used for the "Ethiopia v Vietnam" type fixtures.

The irrepressible Tommy Smyth continues to refer to 'bulging onion bags' but has managed to contribute a couple of classics namely -

"he really used his head then when he used his chest" and

"he's (Simunic - Croatia, who was booked 3 times by Graham Poll) had more cards today than he got for Christmas"
Here's my favourite of Tommy Smyth's comments:

"They say the rain in spain falls mostly on the plains, but as I see it, the rain in Spain falls mostly on Ukraine."

This one from Healy was nice, too:

"Like houseguests in an Agatha Christie novel, both teams have been disposed of quickly in this tournament.

But, really, most of the others have been abominable.  And I'm pretty certain not one of them has come close to pronouncing "Gelsenkirchen" correctly in the 47,234 times they've tried to say it since June 9th...
Who, I wonder, is David Regent? And what does the almost unanimous condemnation of ESPN's coverage have to do with being 'cry-babies'? This man is either a shill for ESPN, or else just one of those imbeciles who cannot see anything or anyone criticised without getting indignant (except of course when they themselves are crossed). If David Regent disagrees with the critics, for some specific reason, why doesn't he say so? But he's probably just a hit-and-run type who has nothing substantive to say, and we won't hear from him again.

Meanwhile, back in the broadcast booth - does anyone know whether we will have to endure O'Brien ruining the Final for us?  Is there any hope?  I doubt it.
Hello? Adrian Healy and Tommy Smythe... where are you?! Please ABC and ESPN. I beg of thee, bring them out from beneath whatever slab you've buried them under. Let them call a game, any game. There are only four left. Allow me to enjoy the remainder of this World Cup in peace. As an English person, this is really all I have left.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and de Ole Onion Bag. Amen.
Yes they're all dreadful. but one point no one's noticed

Why oh why do they not use some of the in studio techniques that Sky Sports stole from the Americans to break the game down at half time or at the end? I was in the UK for some of June and they really now do a good job analysing the tactics and showing what's happening). If we're trying to educate young fans shouldnt we be doing that? Instead they have gormless twits (especially Julie Foudy who clearly knows nothing about football) natterring on and on. The average FSN viewer knows more about the game than any one on ESPN....and lets not start with HOW THE HELL Musberger got on there...
It is entirely psychologically soothing to see all these consensus comments about the ESPN world cup commentators about how poor they have been performing.  One thing that annoys me most is how they kill the atomosphere of the game by talking trivial facts when an exploding moment is imminent.  They started to sound excited only when the ball is in the net. Very often, the game is in such a nerve-cracking moment of build up, they are found talking something else nonchalantly.  Shouldn't a play-by-play announcer, like what O'Brien would regard himself, be able to read the game well and fire up the atmosphere of the game by timely orcherstrating his comments in a colorful fashion?  Even if he knows very little about soccer, I expect that he should be able to diligently adhere to the game, instead of distracting himself and the viewers from it.  Even if O'Brien attempted to use this World Cup occasion to spice up his CV, shouldn't he be more responsible and prepared to at least immitate a real play-by-play announcer?  Does he have no shame at all, just thinking that he can be a jerk-of-all-trade in such important events once every 4 years?  Or does he even know that he help kill the game?
I am an ashamed O'Brien... thank God I am not related to that ABC plonker... please, someone create the opportunity for some dentist to fix his teeth, preferably by removing them and sowing his mouth shut. 

And if we could just tell him to stop talking about "changing fields."  Dave, there is only one fucking field! I think you mean switching play!  To change fields the player would have to actually leave the stadium... hmmm... perhaps you should change fields: go back to baseball. Wanker!

They are all terrible.  I think it was O'Brien but may have been JP who asked, why we hadn't seen Lionel Messi enter the Argentina/Germany game yet.  Promptly to be told Argentina had already used their three substitutions. 

And the game announcing is brilliant.  Player A passes to Player B, Player B passes to Player C... come on boys, get some analogies, get some vocabulary, get some comprehension of the ebb and flow of a match.

One commentator explained how the game had done a complete 360 because the Australia who were behind came back and went ahead against Japan.  Er, complete 360?  I think that would mean we are going in exactly the same direction that we already were... not much cop at geometry or geography, are we lads? 

And, my favorite pet peeve, "Oh baby, you gotta be kidding me..." if that idiot can't articulate enthusiasm and excitement at anything better then a 6 year old level he should just shut up.

The High Def is brilliant only to be obscured by stupid graphics that take up too much of the screen after you've just told us what is being retold to us by the graphic.  And can't you tell us the bloody teams BEFORE the game actually starts instead of taking up HALF the screen with the line up.

Here's my summary of the Final.  Close your eyes, imagine half the pitch obscured by a graphic of a fancy football with the words World Cup Final constantly rotating around it while the ball spins...ohhhh, ahhhh.  Hear the descriptive, insightful, illuminating commentators as they illustrate the game telling us "It's Zidane to Henry, Henry to Zidane, Zidane to Henry.... deflected away, coming to the other side.." ad nauseam.  Then, after the final whistle blows and Italy win (I think they will) they say, "See you in four years" and cut to a commercial without ever going to the presentation of the trophy!

Someone needs to invent a satelite service that would give you a side bar that would allow you to pick the commentary from which ever feed you want out of all those being broadcast from the games, that way I could just pick the BBC or ITV feed and be done with it.

But really, the real question is how do we translate all this justified frustration into action that will get listened to so we can change the experience for the next World Cup?  Blogger in chief... how do we influence the men in charge?
I am thrilled to see I am not the only one who thinks that the whole world cup has been ruined by that idiot O'Brien's "commentating", if that is the right word for it, on ESPN tv. Commenting would be more appropriate, as he has commented on such banal, boring and useless facts that he clearly shows no understanding of the game at all. My grandmother could have done better and she's been dead for 25 years.
My husband speaks Spanish and the announcer on Univision who keeps calling the ball the "esferico" drives him nuts!  I guess "marionetas de la carne" are welcome on all networks.
I get more out of the commentary on Univision than I do from that on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 -- and I don't speak Spanish. I think soccer floors most commentators brought up American sports because it flows too much, and they don't know when to shut up and let the action speak for itself. John Motson, the venerable BBC commentator, once said that the biggest thing he learnt as a young commentator was not to speak.
I am so glad to find this page.

Since the first game I heard Obrien and Balboa rabbit on and on about everything nothing to do with the game, I have simply explained the ABC coverage in these terms:

OBrien makes a good attempt to explain football (sorry soccer), a sport that he has very little experience of, to American viewers who likely have even less experience than him. Blind leading the blind.

Balboa (the so-called analyst) has a severe case of verbal diarrhea, obviously being paid by the syllable (as most of his words are single syllables). His anti-English rhetoric during their opening match showed what a second-class player he always has been. The fact he has over 100 International Caps might be a pointer as to why the US has not been successful on the World stage, if he was the hall of fame golden boy.

When will ABC/ESPN understand that not all viewers are blind, and, as with most people I know, I have a big screen TV, and to see the awful graphics take over 50% of the available screen just goes to show that they still have no idea how to show football (sorry - soccer for those ABC execs out there). Also, unlike that wanna-be rugby game played her in the US, there are no 2 minute breaks every 30 seconds in REAL football, so the continuous replays of near-misses and saves and fouls and cards and dives, etc, etc, whilst the game is still being played, is not appreciated.

I applaud ABC/ESPN for showing commercial-free games, that is a great step forward, but please don't spoil it now by having crap, uninformed commentators paired with inane and egotistical 'analysts' together with graphics and replays that take up too much of the playing screen/time.
Well! We've had it and Italy got there.

Good luck to them and thanks to Germany for putting on a great event. They've been maligned as a nation long enough.

Meanwhile - O'Brien and Balbollox  continued to do their best to ruin the event - verbal vomit ad nauseam.

It's been great to note the more discriminating  voice their disgust here, but as I see it the whole ABC-ESPN World Cup coverage proves just one thing -  they couldn't give a tuppeny shit about their viewers or viewers' opinions. The game isn't what YOU think it should be. It's what THEY say you should think it to be.

I feel sorry for genuine USA soccer fans.

Don't worry guys. The game isn't really as awful as these two pratts try to make it sound.

Just so you know ..

It's a pity to discover this blog after the tournament is over. Like many others I, too, could not bear to watch ESPN. Hence, had the games on Univision even though I don't understand Spanish.

My all time favorite dumb comments from the ESPN announcers (don't recall exact games) are:

1. "Player x has his pass to his team mate player y picked-off." Hellllllllllooooooo - this is football of a different kind. IT IS NOT THE NFL.

2. "He line drives the ball down the field." Since when are we watching baseball?

3. "England has a great number of options to take the free kick. There's Beckham and Gerard and....um....uh....oh....Beckham and Gerard and Beckham...." Guys, I swear that this is a near verbatim listing of what the clown of a commentator said.

4. And from our friend Brent Musberger (even while the game is in full flow). "Well the man of the match will be announced at the end of the game [no kidding]. You will have a chance to vote after the 75th minute. Man of the Match is sponsored by ........." BRENT, JUST SHUT UP.

5. Commentators always talking about the must-win US-Italy game for the US team in the first round. No matter which teams were playing each other you got to hear this every few minutes. You've said it once, you've said it twice. Now can we please go back to the game that is being broadcast????

6. Commentators always talking about how Klinsmann has used US trainers / training techniques, sports psychologists, and how the US has contributed greatly to German sporting prowess. They seem to forget that Germany does have a soccer tradition.

Oh well.......guess I'll need to learn Spanish in time for 2010. I doubt these ABC / ESPN execs will learn much. I remember how in the 2002 world cup they would have the game clock ticking down (starting at 90 minutes and going down) instead of starting at 0:00 and going up like it has been everywhere in the world since the beginning of time.

Oh well......thanks for helping me get this off my chest. Good night, guys!
I'm happy to find this blog; just to vent the frustration with the poorest exibition of game calling I've ever heard.  Something has to be done about these ABC/ESPN announcers.  Any ideas? 

I'm watching a replay of the final and these guys are worse than they the were when it was live.  If I here about Thierry Henry running into "his man" one more time...  This is pathetic. 

Others in this blog have described the problem pretty well, so there's not need to repeat, but the arrogance of these people to think they're qualified to call a soccer game when they don't even know the terminology of the game, let alone tactics and strategy. 

And, really, who cares what John Mckay has to say?  Do they really think this inane philosophical crap enhances anything?  Or perhaps they think it compensates for their ignorance of the game.  And then there's this moronic obsession with meaningless statistics. 

Oh, and keep those damn information blocks off the screen.

It may be time for a soccer network; dedicated to quality.  Any venture capitalists out there?
After Zidane go red carded, I had to listen to that retard,Balboa, repeatedly talk about what a great job the italian captain is doing - "A great captain sticks with his team and leads them to victory"  - No, you retard, a captain shows his team that you stand up and don't take racist crap from any bafoon and that some things are more important than holding up a trophy". 

The Frech people and the entire team support Zidane in what he did to that sack of crap, they only wish he had hit him harder.

Thank goodness the Futball world does not give a rat's poop about what these pathetic ESPN announcers have to say.
To me, Balboa and O'Brien are horrible. ESPN ruined it BIG TIME. O'Brien doesn't have clue what to say 90% of the time, and usually what does come out is either irrelevant, or just plain stupid. Balboa is the biggest American Flag waiver I have ever seen. And is so anti-Italian it's not even funny. This man has the help of replays right in front of his face, and as the replay is showing, he is talking over it, problem is, the replays are showing that the guy was definitley fouled, and he is saying that he was never touched. And if any italian guy falls, Balboa everytime "He dove, he just went down, that's not a foul." Yet the replays showed the guy practically tore off his ankle on the tackle. He's the biggest idiot of them all. THE WORST. AHHHHH, there are just to many examples. JESUS he is horrible.
Looking back at this World Cup I have to say I was a little bit disappointed with it. Zidane has been my idol for so many year. I was ten years old when France won the World Cup and I still know the lineup from that day out of my head. But I have to admit that I'm biased with hating italy because I'm from Germany and I've never liked italian soccer that much, but we have to be honest. Fabio Cannavaro did a magnificent job. I haven't seen someone defending like that since Steven Gerrard in the Championsleague Final AC Milan against FC Liverpool.

But still. I was forced to watch the games in the US

while the biggest party on earth was going on in my homecountry.  I personally played soccer for 12 years and learned a lot about tactics and how to read a game; I know how easy those guys make it look. And how much of a sport it is. I didn't even feel insulted that much by the ignorance of the american commentators. What hit me was those two ESPN reporters making fun of soccer and saying how much of a sissy sport it is. That made me sad. Because I remember my concussion and my broken foot and all the pain. A normal soccer season starts of in the end of summer. In that time you play a lot and don't do much of training. The real torture begins after the christmas vacation. You would get in your soccer boots and would start warming up. 20 rounds around the field with snow a foot high. And then we would start jogging. To next big town Herrenberg. 15 miles away. Not that bad but only up the hill in snow. And then back.

But we have to be fair.

Mispronouncing names seems to be very common in  any culture. German and English people are obsessed with pronouncing it right but that's more the exception. A lot of countries are very proud of their language and refuse to adapt to different

pronounciation rules. That's not very nice but certainly not the end of the world.

But Soccer commentators who actually have no idea of soccer have a good chance on causing apocalyptic outrage. I give you an example.

Fernando Meira. Portugese defender. Plays for VFB STUTTGART. He played against Germany in STUTTGART.

In HIS home stadium. In the last few minutes Thomas Hitzlsperger got subbed in who also plays for VFB STUTTGART. In a very nice play he passed Fernando Meira, his fellow team mate. The ESPN announcers didn't mention anything of that. Every German team fan would have known that, every portugese team fan would have known that, every fc middlesborough fan would have known that. (By the way I rooted for you, against FC Sevilla)

But I would have been so easy. You just should have given all those ESPN commentator the newest EA Sports Soccer Manager one year before the World Cup. Let's say they should have played one hour a week. That would have been 52 hours. You could have played five seasons in that time. But I bet they would have played so much more, they would have actually started liking soccer, understanding it's deep history, the money, the franchise, the fans, the stadium, the tragedies, the victories, the unfairness, the sportsmanship, the players stats. Their speed their dribbling technique, their playing style, where to position them best, what players go together. They would have gotten addicted to the sport. And those games are developped in canada but the company is american.

That's good for the economy. And we like money don't we?
Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful and beneficial to your readers.


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