Gus Johnson has decided to step down from his role as the lead soccer commentator for FOX Sports, and will return to announcing college football and college basketball, according to a report by SI.com.
The news will come as a victory for soccer fans who rebelled against the decision made by FOX Sports to force an announcer on them with no soccer experience. His lack of knowledge of the game along with his catchphrases and faux excitement made the experience of watching soccer games on FOX Sports intolerable for many.
By quitting his role as the lead soccer commentator, Johnson’s decision has put an end to the “Gus Johnson Effect” (which was more of a Gus Johnson Experiment), reinforcing the fact that FOX Sports President Eric Shanks made a poor decision in hiring Johnson and throwing him in the deep end in 2013 to learn the game and the art of soccer commentating.
Sources close to FOX Sports revealed to World Soccer Talk that executives at FOX Sports were privately questioning for a while whether they should continue with Johnson. At the same time, the same sources close revealed that Johnson was becoming more and more disillusioned in the position, and was considering how much of an impact the negative press was having on his career as a sports broadcaster.
The decision by Johnson to quit his role as lead soccer announcer is a victory for soccer fans. Why? It’s a sign that we’re not willing to accept mediocrity and that the role of a soccer commentator is an integral part to the televised game. In addition to being an example of the power of soccer blogs and social media where our voices will be heard, it’s evidence that soccer fans place a high priority on quality.
Personally, I felt that Johnson meant well and made some progress, but he was put into an extremely difficult role by FOX Sports, didn’t receive the guidance or critical analysis he needed to determine where to make improvements, and was ultimately let down by FOX’s inability to find a co-commentator that was a good fit for him. Johnson, I’ve been told, was insistent on having Wynalda be his partner in announcing games, but while Wynalda means well, the two of them together didn’t elevate Johnson’s “game.”
“I worked as hard as I could and I am proud of my work, especially the last Champions League final,” Johnson told SI.com. “I know I did a good job.”
Johnson may still continue to commentate soccer games from time to time for FOX Sports when it fits into his schedule and when FOX has a need.
The US sports announcer explained that his decision to step down from his role as lead commentator was due to a number of reasons. One was that he recently got married and wants to spend more time with his wife. But another was due to the death of his mother in June.
“I asked her if she wanted me to come home (when she was very sick and when he was in Europe commentating the Champions League Final in Lisbon in late May) and she said, ‘No. You are a Johnson man and your job is to work,'” Johnson said. “I finished the game, got back home, and she was pretty much unconscious at that point because she had Stage Four ovarian cancer. I never got the chance to talk to her again because the cancer was eating her up. I think I’m still in the process of healing. My mother was the most important person in my life. She is the one who gave me my love for sports and communications.”
The question for FOX Sports is who they’ll hire to replace Gus Johnson as the lead soccer announcer for FOX Sports. Martin Tyler remains a possibility, but there are also plenty of other people who are just as talented and available.
Regarding who FOX Sports hires, hopefully they’ll learn from their mistakes and will hire someone who is more qualified and knows how to announce a soccer game.
Let’s hope FOX Sports makes the correct decision. Meanwhile, we wish Gus Johnson the best of luck in the rest of his career.
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