View Full Version : Hmm.... Okay... ESPN Lack Objectivity After U.S. Win

06-06-02, 01:46 PM
Seems a little odd to complain about lack of objectivity on world sports for a U.S. audience. I have watched the World Cup in other countries and of course the telecasters show emotion when the "home team" wins. Let's face it a big part of events like the Olympics, World Cup and other big stage world competitions are to root for your country. I doubt that anyone who watched the ESPN coverage got offended. The on-screen ads are pain, but still better than when they used to cut for commercial breaks a few years back.

ESPN Lacks Objectivity After U.S. Win

Jingo bells have rung before in sports broadcasts, especially in the Olympics, but never have I heard them toll louder than at the end of the United States' 3-2 win over Portugal yesterday in the World Cup.

``Mine eyes have seen the glory!'' ESPN's Jack Edwards said, personally exulting as he should not have but still quoting Julia Ward Howe correctly. ``The United States has shocked Portugal!'' Had he gone further he probably could described the U.S. team as having ``loosed the fateful lightning of its terribly swift feet'' upon the Portugese.

Compare this to another national team occurrence: Team U.S.A.'s victory over the Soviet hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics. Al Michaels's coda - ``Do you believe in miracles?'' - accurately captured the astonishing nature of the event without venturing into preposterous sentiment.

Edwards's surge of soccer nationalism sounded peculiar because he and Ty Keough had called the game so straight until then. Edwards had referred to the U.S. squad as ``we'' once, but he had said nothing to prepare viewers for what, in the end, sounded like a fan had snuck into the ESPN booth in Suwon, South Korea, and ripped the microphone out of the hands of an objective announcer.

You wonder what would be as inappropriate for someone announcing a global event to a national audience.

Think of NBC's Marv Albert saying, ``Thank God my wonderful Lakers have won their third straight N.B.A. title. Shaq - my man!''

Or ABC's Keith Jackson at the Rose Bowl: ``Oh, baby, Michigan has won the granddaddy of all bowls, and I've just split my happy Wolverine britches!''

Reflecting on Edwards's comment, Bill Graff, ESPN's coordinating producer of the World Cup, said, ``I thought he had a great 93 minutes but then went a tad over the top.''

Graff was being kind to Edwards, who is ESPN's lead soccer announcer. Graff said he has had to remind his four teams of World Cup announcers not to be fans and not to flaunt their preferences. At the World Cup level, it seems announcers should not need such cautions. The World Cup clearly inspires so much passion that it seems the smartest advice from producers to announcers is to show emotion for both sides.

``Soccer is such a niche sport,'' Graff said, ``that the people who follow it closely like Jack and Ty are close to the team. Jack's been following the U.S. team a long time. I think he's aware of what he's done.''

The post-game studio program reflected the over-the-top mood. The host, Rob Stone, was too excited; the analysts, David Dir, a former Major League Soccer coach, and Paul Caliguiri, a former World Cup player for the U.S., had similar problems maintaining objectivity. (Will ABC's John Davidson turn gaga if Detroit wins the Stanley Cup? Hardly.)

The World Cup coverage has been mixed. The pictures generated by FIFA's world feed (ESPN does not use its own cameras or directors) are usually more than adequate, but ESPN needs more informational graphics; its announcers need to find more avenues to explain rules to casual, or new fans, without offending the hard-core viewers, and the continuous score box and clock (with accompanying sponsor logo) should be shrunk to prevent blocking some on-air action. Once, a Budweiser logo popped out of the right side of the box and seemed to swat away a shot.

And the announcers calling the games from ESPN's Bristol, Conn., studios - except for Tommy Smyth - could show more emotion.

One problem that occured during Sunday's England-Sweden tape delay broadcast on ABC was not ESPN's fault. Edwards sounded clairvoyant. He declared goals before the balls went into the net, and saves before they were saved. What a sense of anticipation!

In actuality, the world feed's video and audio were out of sync, causing Edwards's words to momentarily precede the action.

Since Sunday, Graff said, ESPN has had to adjust the picture and the sound becaue the world feed has not been able to fix it.

``With 20 stadiums in two countries,'' he said, ``they're stretched a bit thin.''

06-06-02, 01:53 PM
:lol: :lol: After I posted the article above I found one titled:

"U.S., a Sleeping Giant, Stirs the Soccer World"

Both are from the New York Times coverage of the world cup. I guess "Practice what you preach" is not a popular way of doing business for the Times.