I play much more soccer than basketball. But when it comes to the end of televised seasons, I watch much more basketball than soccer. Maybe it has something to do with the excitement of a top quality league that actually has playoffs combined with the speed and high scoring of the NBA. But it also goes to show just how much I watch the NBA… ‘cause I watch a lot of EPL.
Anyway, I was sitting through the halftime show in game four of the NBA finals- my beloved Lakers up by a few points on our age-old nemeses, the Celtics (I grew up in LA). Immediately following the first half review, there was a World Cup mini-preview. It was on ESPN so John Harkes was the pundit who was given about 25 or 30 seconds to build anticipation with a notoriously apathetic US audience. I’ll take or leave the guy as a color man. I know some people say he talks too much, but, in my book, at least he’s not Max Bretos, and he has the background. Then he got his 25 seconds. The man actually came on and used the phrase, “bitter rivals” to describe the relationship between the footballing nations of the US and England. He also dubbed Landon Donovan “the Steve Nash” of American soccer, which is so far off-base to anyone who knows both sports, it’s ridiculous. His short segment was obviously, to any soccer fan, a scripted farce created by some ESPN exec who handed him a script and said, “Read this or else.”
Harkesy had to know that the balderdash he was putting out there for the listening public was exactly that: balderdash. Moonshine. Rubbish. Poppycock. And yet, he said it, losing credibility with people who know the game, and making sure yet another American soccer pundit was made to look ignorant of even the gross details of the game- when we know that is not the case, at least not with Harkes.
It’s just frustrating. I know he likes his job, but it would be nice for us Yanks to be able to rest our hats (or boots) on an American announcer that stays true to his/her ideals and the integrity of the sport, versus selling it and down the river for some hyperbolic hype with no legs.
p.s. Comparisons between Donovan and Nash welcomed.