I’ve been watching the World Cup with renewed enthusiasm this year. Though I’m not a huge soccer fan, I am, of course, supportive of the French team, whose performance against Brazil last week was nothing short of amazing. What’s been most impressive to me, however, is not Zidane’s gravity-defying tricks, but rather the sincere objectiveness of the American sports commentators. I’ve never heard sports reporting as even-handed as this. When a penalty kick is called, the commentators review the replay and gauge, quite fairly it seems, whether the call was right or wrong. Then they move on to the next play, judging it independently of whatever happened 3 minutes earlier. They’ve praised teams when they deserved praise, pointed out the excessive acting out of falls, and basically taken no sides in any games I’ve watched.
It’s not surprise, then, that many friends of mine prefer the Spanish-language channel and the loud screaming of “gooooooooaaaaaaaallllll!” After all, sports watching is not about objectivity. It’s about supporting your team, living with them the sheer ecstasy of victory and complete sadness of loss. That’s what makes soccer exciting, and that’s why people watch.
Of course, I couldn’t help but think that TV journalists — you know, the ones who are supposed to aim for objectivity — would do well to take a page from these sports commentators’ performance. That’s really where we could use a cold, objective analysis, rather than the mindless screaming and insults.
On the other hand, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck should probably move to ESPN. They would make fantastic sports commentators. “Trraaaiiiiiiiiitooooooorrrrrr!” “Can you believe this activist referee?”