Forgiving the Gaffer’s scheduling criticisms, ESPN mostly has been wonderful for soccer promotion in the U.S.. Top goals are making the top-ten plays. Sportscenter features highlight reels. Yesterday’s Real Madrid-Liverpool match, though it was not the greatest testament, featured on the flagship network. Much has been done, and the burgeoning community of soccer fans is, or at least should be, grateful.
Despite the progress one issue does remain and that is pronunciation. Soccer’s a foreign game in the U.S. played by largely foreign men. I can empathize with a Sportscenter anchor stumbling over Spanish. Italian can be tricky and Portuguese perplexing. English pundits often do no better. A level of malapropism and muddling should be tolerable for foreign languages, but why is it happening with English?
The native tongue can be confusing for some folks, as half of the United States thinks thinks that “nuculur” is a word. Some English soccer terms can still be difficult. No one in America would intuitively understand that the English pronounce Derby, “Dar-bee.”
However is it really that hard to pronounce “Arsenal” correctly? Three syllables. Flows nicely. It means the same thing on both sides of the Atlantic. It requires no Latin flourish.
Since Steven Gerrard is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world and has appeared in many Sportscenter reels, why is it impossible to remember that it is Steven, not “Steve” and “GERrard” not “GerRARD.” (That Will Mays was a hell of a baseball player. So was Mike Mantle.)
I understand ESPN anchors not following or liking soccer. I feel similarly about golf. I think it’s a frustrating, tiresome little game. I don’t know why the participants are considered athletes, when a corpulent chain smoker can win a major tournament. But, that doesn’t mean that I discuss “Tigger” Woods and “Philip Michaelson” facing off at “Agoosta Nacionale,” before inciting a giggle fest with my own ignorance.
No one expects you to break down Liverpool’s 4-5-1 formation, comment on Arsenal’s transfer policy or expound upon the Premier League’s impingement on the English National Team. But, please ESPN, just read the highlights professionally. It’s not too much to ask. Or, start spelling things phonetically on the teleprompter.