Media go easy on USA soccer team
With the United States out of the World Cup after drawing record-setting TV viewership and generating all kinds of social media attention, maybe we can get back to some semblance of normalcy.
That’s not a knock against hard-core soccer supporters.
It’s just time for most sports media outlets besides ESPN, which has the tournament until its conclusion, to turn to the other things. It was a quite a bandwagon while it lasted.
In fairness, it was not a friendly bandwagon (soccer types can be kind of snooty), but it was interesting.
From a sports media perspective, a return to normalcy means the return of appropriate pronouns. Yes, pronouns.
With the U.S. out of the tournament, expect on-air types to ditch the cheerleading “we” and “us” treatment they utilized the past few weeks and get back to a more even-handed treatment of what they cover.
Even worse, what passed as analysis during the World Cup was often far from fair or balanced. As a fan, it’s great to drape yourself in the red, white and blue, but that’s just not the media’s job.
Plus, the language of soccer and the mixture of sports consistently sound wrong on radio and TV. That’s because the nation’s names, which are also the team names and/or nicknames, get mixed with references to groups of players as much as the team itself.
So, listeners and viewers get things like, “the United States were out of position” or “Argentina have played exceptionally.”
While almost all U.S. sports broadcasters use “they” or “their” in reference to a team when it should be “it,” the soccer broadcasts sometimes sound even more different. Or, if you prefer and want a positive spin, they sound distinct.
Throughout the tournament, ESPN has done a strong job on World Cup coverage.
There has been some silly hype – notably Jeremy Schaap using a hand-held laser thermometer to point out the sweltering weather conditions when the temperature was only 78. But there has also been good journalism, including Schaap asking appropriate, timely questions after the U.S. loss to Portugal.
ESPN host Bob Ley has been steady, and Landon Donovan, the former U.S. team standout who was cut just before the tournament, was honest and insightful during his segments before and after U.S. games.
In a separate interview, he also admitted he was bitter immediately after being cut. It was good stuff all around.
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