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World Cup 2010: ABC unleashes Another Big Co*k-up

ABC’s Day 2 World Cup coverage, I believe, was appalling. Sure, Marcelo Balboa misspoke and said “Michael Beckham” during the England match, but that was an unfortunate slip.

But what I was more pissed off at was lead commentator Dave O’Brien. First off, his manner of speaking is very slowww and monotonous (great for baseball). It felt like he slowed down the game even when the action on the field was like pinball.

Second, O’Brien was clueless. He referred to Beckham’s cross, which led to the own goal as, quote, “a rocket” and later “a screaming shot.” Sorry ABC, but it was a mild cross, not a bullet.

Third, the man babbles on about stuff which has no relevance to the game (i.e. weaving in references to basketball about Paulo Wanchope). Concentrate on the match. We don’t want to hear nonsense.

Fourth, and finally, don’t talk down to us. Towards the end of the match when Balboa said that Crouch had to be careful when he got his first yellow card, and Balboa went on to say that if he received a second yellow card that Crouch would have been sent off. Duhhhh! Then O’Brien had the cheek to add that if Crouch would have been sent off, England would be down to ten men.

Obviously ABC has decided that the target audience for matches is the uneducated American soccer fan (I mean that in the nicest way, ie someone who hasn’t watched the match before). That’s bloody ridiculous. ABC were taking their name (i.e. A..B..C..) way too seriously!

I watched the Sweden match on ‘mute.’

And I watched the Argentina match on Univision, which was a MUCH better package. The build-up was there (ie national anthems, and the hype before the match), which is severely lacking from the ABC coverage (for the England match, the coverage started literally a second before the kickoff began).

Plus, with Univision, even though I don’t understand Spanish very well, the commentators were far more passionate and exciting to listen to.

I may have given up on ABC/ESPN. What do you think? Am I wrong? What are your opinions regarding the commentating thus far?

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  1. Anonymous

    June 24, 2006 at 9:19 am

    As bad as the ABC coverage is,it’s not as bad as the fact that the local ABC affiliate in Little Rock isn’t even showing some of the games, opting for paid programming instead. I understand very little Spanish, but watched these games on Univision and enjoyed the excitement in the voices of the commentators. I was dissapointed tohere that Tommy Smyth and Derek Rae are no doing any more games. They are by far the most entertaining and knowledgable announcers ABC/ESPN has.

  2. Coach Joel

    June 20, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    I just did a search on the ABC/ESPN commentators with the terms “Beckham hype ESPN commentators” and found your blog. Same color scheme as mine. I created one to blog coaching ice hockey in New Mexico. Anyhow, my reason for grieving on your blog. No Bex isn’t living up to his hype. Who created it? The media. He got the Official “Man of the Match” honors and Balboa kept going on how he hadn’t lived up to his hype. What does he want? Then today, we were provided with a “What does FIFA stand for?” chit-chat. I am from Canada (BTW- Can we ease up on Hargreaves?- we’ll take him back in a heartbeat!) and I am missing my BBC coverage. They are not afraid to carve up the player’s performances but not from a media-hype perspective. I’ll get the Semi-Finals from home. Anyhow, there’s my rant. Thanks! Nice blog, by the way!

  3. Anonymous

    June 20, 2006 at 8:20 pm

    Assigning Dave O’Brien as a commentator on World Cup matches is an insult to true fans of the game and makes a mockery of the sport. Our club just recently discarded ESPN and associates and gone to Setanta for much more professional coverage.

  4. Anonymous

    June 14, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    You are 100 % correct. I am furious at ABC/ESPN not allocated enough funds to attract top notch commentators. Why dont we get feeds from europe (John Motson and Clive Tyldesley)? Or why not people like the Tommy Smith duo. Seriously this is embarrassing. I started to be pissed off when Dave Obrien couldnt talk about the iran mexico plays without interjecting a political statement. Fifa should fine espn/abc. Anyways i have been looking for someone to contact in ABC to send a complain letter. Can you help? my email is

  5. Mr. P.C.

    June 12, 2006 at 1:10 am

    You’re absolutely correct. It was terrible analysis, if you want to even call it that. O’Brien’s fawning over Beckham’s playing was especially annoying, considering most Brittons think of him as one of the weaker links in the team. He was obviously trying to entertain people who only know David Beckham for his modeling and superstardom, rather than his mediocre football. I thought I read somewhere that O’Brien had actually “studied” quite a bit before taking on the lead announcing duties. Apparently he forgot to include actually listening to real soccer commentators as part of his curriculum.

    The sad thing is, usually they pair the lead announcer with someone who seems to know a little about soccer. But Balboa just seemed like a moron to me. He brought up the Hargreaves substitution during the game as a “tactical change” to put a holding midfielder in place, but failed to mention that Hargreaves isn’t much of a holding midfielder. It was actually a typically meaningless substitution on England’s part, which Balboa could have easily pointed out had he known anything about the player or Sven Goran Eriksson’s history of one-dimensional tactics. Later on he actually had to throw in a “bend it like Beckham” reference, chiming in on a replay of the free kick that led to the own goal.

    As someone else said, luckily ESPN also threw on some of their UEFA Champions League crew, including Tommy Smyth, who is great.

  6. Anonymous

    June 11, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    Their commentary is horrendous and they come off like uneducated goofs. Argentina dominated the Ivory Coast and they made it sound as if Argentina were playing poorly….My local stations have better commentators than ABC or ESPN. The British pair, who did the Champions League games are the best, but the rest are absolutely clueless…….

  7. Anonymous

    June 11, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    Their commentary is horrendous and they come off like uneducated goofs. Argentina dominated the Ivory Coast and they made it sound as if Argentina were playing poorly….My local stations have better commentators than ABC or ESPN. The British pair, who did the Champions League games are the best, but the rest are absolutely clueless…….

  8. Yannick

    June 11, 2006 at 9:54 am

    LOL that is really funny (post and comments).

    I wouldn’t go as far as saying ESPN is bad. ABC from what you said does seem pretty clueless, however ESPN does/should have better commentators.

    Luckily we are getting a feed from an international station, so the commentating is very good. The only problem we have is that sometimes our local station shows the game in terrible quality and I have to be using an antenna instead of cable to get it to show better.

  9. Educated Soccer Fan in US

    June 11, 2006 at 8:59 am

    You are absolutely right. Its the World Cup, you need the ambiance, the 30 minute preshows, some shots of the fanfests. The announcers are only a bi product of what ABC has known all along. Real soccer fans dont count. Also as an aside, every 2-4 minutes ABC pops up another annoying graphic that blocks the action. We dont need to be told 30 times in the first half that Sweden is yellow and T&T is red

  10. JC

    June 11, 2006 at 8:57 am

    It’s actually worse than I feared. First, the announcers are just clueless amateurs. Did you hear the guy say, after the Ivory Coast scored to make it 2-1, “Well, the game has just turned 360 degrees”? Uh, what? I think you mean 180, jackass.

    Second, the announcers have little to no experience with soccer, it seems. To a man, they seem to be trying to find ways to compare the matches (which they routinely call “games”, of course) to American sports. Drogba was compared to Shaq, there was the “give and go, just like in the NBA” reference, and the horrid comparison to game 7 of the World Series, which isn’t just stupid, it’s flat out wrong.

    And, like you said, they’ve dumbed this down to appeal to people who have never ever ever seen a soccer match before. I guess they assume the audience is made up exclusively of their announcers.

    Finally, they seem to be under the impression that the only reason I’m watching is that I made a mistake and thought the USA match was on. So they’ll help clear up my error by telling me when the match is scheduled 5-10 times each half!!! Seriously, they did it 5 times during this morning’s 1st half.

    I’m going to try Univision for a bit.

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