Why You Should Watch The World Cup6/07/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern
The following is a completely biased message (as the headline of
this column suggests), since I consider myself a soccer guy who
happens to currently work in the TV business. Full disclosure: My resume includes stints as a PR person with
the 1994 World Cup, a First Division soccer team
in England and a Major League Soccer franchise.
So, I’ve sold soccer before.
But for me, fútbol is more than a past career;
it is a passion. I have attended
most of the major
sporting events in the
U.S., from Super Bowls
to World Series Game 7s
to Final Fours, but none
of them rated as my
best live experience as
a fan. That is a toss-up
between Ipswich Town
upsetting Inter Milan in
the UEFA Cup, or tiny
Swansea ousting mighty
West Ham United in the
FA Cup. I know; you have no idea what I just
said. Don’t worry; no one else in America does
either, which probably explains why I didn’t get
a lot of dates in high school.
But my ties to the game haven’t left exclusively
happy results, as I actually met my wife—a former sportswriter—in a press box at an MLS
game in San Jose.
Bias aside, the most fantastic sporting event
in the world is about to captivate audiences all
over the planet for the next month. And you’d
be smart to join in.
And you probably
will, as we are famously
an event society.
Watched a lot of curling
or figure skating
since the Olympics,
The 2010 event takes
place in South Africa,
which will make for
beautiful pictures. The
stadiums will be packed
with colorful and boisterous
fans. Be warned: The audio may be less
than inviting, as the local fans blow shrill horns
the entire match—called vuvuzelas—that make
my mother-in-law’s voice seem engaging by
But the commentary will be worth it. In English, ESPN will have brilliantly understated voices
with British accents, led by the talented Martin
Tyler and Derek Rae. (Still more full disclosure:
Rae hired me in 1993 to join the World Cup, so
I kind of owe him my professional life.)
And if you’d like to sample more passionate and
boisterous broadcasters, flip to Univision, especially
when the lying, cheating Mexican team (our
arch-rival) is plying their evil trade on the pitch.
The game you don’t want to miss is the U.S.
playing England on June 12. It is not hyperbole
to say that if the Yanks beat the Brits, it will be
the biggest upset since 1776. And a bigger deal
to the English than that. And here, it will set off
a media firestorm—and high comedy—as we
get to watch members of the soccer-ignoring TV
world try to pronounce the name of American
defender Oguchi Onyewu.
About 17 times in the next month as the World
Cup heats up, I will come home and tell my wife
I am going back to work in soccer full-time. She’ll
do what she does when I say anything: roll her
eyes and ignore me. But she and I and the rest
of the world will be glued to our TV sets for the
next month—and so should you.
E-mail comments to ben.grossman@
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