Gus Johnson and Ian Wright’s Commentary Has Turned FOX Soccer Into a Joke

If Gus Johnson and FOX Sports have paid any attention at all to the commentary on Gus’s play-by-play match calling on Twitter and EPL Talk, they should be deeply concerned. From initial outbursts of outrage, much of the commentary has shifted to mockery and humor. This is not a good sign.

It is one thing to be considered controversial (witness Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless), but quite another to be considered a fool. While Smith and Bayless are simply presenting opinions, Gus Johnson is supposedly presenting us with a factual running account of a live soccer match. There is a huge difference.

Johnson’s poor and mistimed outbursts have become a laughing stock. His knowledge of the world’s game is so obviously lacking that fans have given up complaining about it and instead have taken to mocking it. No broadcaster’s reputation can long sustain itself when the viewers consider him a joke. FOX Sports and Johnson would do well to remove him from the European theater of soccer. He simply isn’t cut out for it.

FOX Sports has a much more competent play-by-play man in John Strong. He calls an even match, emphasizing things where they actually need it. If he’s reading from a cheat sheet a la Gus, you certainly can’t tell. The side information he gives is delivered in an appropriate time, place and manner, unlike Gus who seems to be reading from “Point #37” at the weirdest moments. I am reminded of the person who posted a comment on EPL Talk from the last Champions League match who wondered when we would hear what the Slovenian ref did for a living. It was funny, but all too true – which was unfortunate, to say the least. Viewers should not be wondering what bit of inanity will next come out of the commentator’s mouth. The match is the focus, not the commentator.

If I were Johnson, as hard as it might be, I would demand that FOX Sports Co-President and COO Eric Shanks get me out of European soccer commentating, posthaste. He tried. It didn’t work. He simply doesn’t have the background or style necessary to pull it off. Far better that he leave with that thought than that he becomes the focus of constant mockery, derision and satire and ruin his reputation altogether.

Someone posted weeks ago that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but I disagree wholeheartedly. Bad publicity has ruined more businesses and people than you can count. Once word of mouth starts to drag you down due to poor product or service, there is no stopping it. It’s time for the executives at FOX Sports and Gus himself to recognize this.

I do not dislike Gus Johnson. I’m sure he and I could have a great time discussing sports over a few pints. However, we all need to be cognizant of our strengths and weaknesses. Gus’s skill set is just not cut out for European soccer and it will do him and FOX Sports no good to keep trying to ram it down the fans’ throats. God may forgive the continuation of this experiment, but the fans and viewers never will.

Editor’s note: While Johnson has been so bad, it’s been funny. However, Ian Wright’s work behind the mic has been equally poor. Wright is a decent pundit, but an awful commentator. The two things that jump out at me are one, why does Wright seem to repeat all his points over and over again? It’s as if he can’t think of anything else to say, and is trying to fill dead air. And two, and perhaps more importantly, is FOX Sports doing any type of post-match review with Johnson and Wright to analyze, critique and help improve their work? Judging by their commentaries, there appears to be very little to no improvement from game to game.

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