Instead of interacting with soccer fans and engaging with the soccer community, FOX is sticking to its guns with Gus Johnson and have gone to mainstream media to change the message, hoping that the trickle-down effect will influence sports fans. It won’t. Soccer fans are intelligent, well-educated and can see through FOX’s attempts to change the message.
Turning to the commentary of the UEFA Champions League Final today between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, it was honestly a painful experience having to listen to Johnson and Wynalda suck the excitement and drama out of the game. My chief criticism of Johnson is not his voice or accent. It’s his delivery. It still feels (and probably will always feel) like an alien plucked from another planet, forced to call soccer games. He doesn’t commentate. He screams. “THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE PLAYER… MONEY. WELL. SPENT.” He doesn’t speak in complete sentences. He’s the king of catchphrases.
While I enjoyed the game, the experience of having to listen to Johnson and Wynalda make mistake after mistake was irritating to say the least.
Here are some of my observations from their commentary of the game:
1) Gus Johnson’s announcing style is getting worse. After reading out pages and pages of statistics (if his announcing career doesn’t work out for him, there’s always a job as a statistician), Johnson tired in the second half and got lazy with his commentary. I pity the soccer fans who had to listen to the Johnson commentary on radio as they must have had no idea what was happening on the pitch. Johnson’s tendency to shout out player names whenever anything remotely exciting happens is tiresome (“BALE!!!!” — followed by several seconds of silence. “RONAAALDO,” followed by more silence. “DI MARIA A LASER!” and so on). There’s no description. He just seems to shout the first thing that comes into his head.
Other annoying habits of Gus Johnson include calling a Ronaldo free kick that went wide a “low, line drive” (this isn’t baseball), the way he repeated the fact that Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid were from the same city several times during the broadcast, and his mispronunciation of the Atletico Madrid team name. Johnson repeatedly referred to Atletico Madrid as “ATHletico Madrid.” There’s only one “Athletic” in La Liga, and that’s Athletic Bilbao. Atletico Madrid is pronounced without the H.
2) As bad as Gus Johnson was, Eric Wynalda was even worse. His commentary was high school-level at times. How often does he have to utter “WOW, what a game” or throw in “WOW” to describe an exciting moment in a match. How is that analysis or insight?