FIFA World Cup 2010: We Americans Have Much to Learn (Part 2: Conclusion)

(NOTE: I posted two articles for today, Tuesday, 13 July 2010.  From now on, I will post all of my articles by Tuesday evening.)

So, the World Cup tourney is over and Spain claimed the title.  It was a truly wild and exciting ride.  I watched the “Beautiful Game” on a network that delivered a lively, positive, and joyous experience for its viewers: Univision.  As Pablo Ramirez proudly said while Spain celebrated their victory on the field, in Spanish, “Today we do not have “champions”… we have campeones!”

Surely, Univision’s team of Pablo Ramirez, Dr. Jesus Bracamontes, and Jose Luis Chilavert did a fine job of providing colorful narration, technical analysis, and a player’s perspective of the action on the field.  Prior to the game, though, Univision celebrates the spirit of soccer and the fact that a game is imminent.  As I briefly mentioned in “Part 1” of this analysis, Fernando Fiore’s Republica Deportiva (Spanish for the “Republic of Sport”) is nothing like ABC or ESPN’s pre-game coverage of the world’s most popular game.  An excitable Fiore – often wearing ties his son gave him – begins the telecast with energetic introductions of the game(s) that Univision will carry that day.  During World Cup 2010, he would cede the floor to the team in the studio consisting of a host and three senadoras (Spanish, feminine form of “senators”) of the Republica Deportiva.  Fans from every country playing that day held flags, banners, vuvuzelas, and wore the colors of their homeland as they accompanied Univision’s team of commentators and presenters on a set resembling your favorite local sports bar.  Everyone was enjoying themselves – clearly, this group of people embodied the spirit of World Cup soccer.

ESPN and ABC simply do not have the winning recipe yet.  Their British announce team makes soccer sound too foreign to many Americans – a point made in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated (that I would cite properly, only I cannot find it at this time).  Ian Darke’s cool narrative remains constantly monotone and too silent at times.  Univision’s Ramirez explodes when a striker beats the goalie for a point and may put off viewers like Kevin Flood (who commented on Part I of this two-part series) as a result, but Ramirez gets excited with the viewer.  Darke presents the events to the viewer. Since I was unable to attend any of the World Cup matches or even visit South Africa during this historic and joyous period, I appreciated Univision’s attempt to bring the World Cup games and atmosfera to me.

Herein lies the primary difference.  ESPN lacks the energy in its presentation of World Cup soccer – relative to Univision – and has yet to deliver the World Cup “atmosphere” to its viewers.  Until the English-language presentation undergoes additional tweaking, along with our national team’s success on the sport’s grandest stage, Americans will not connect with soccer as much as they do with football, baseball, or basketball.  America’s premier sports network is trying, though, to attract soccer fans and improve their ratings.  Much like the American national team on the pitch, ESPN will certainly keep trying until they get it right.  I must say, though, that Univision’s impressive presentation of World Cup 2010 may just make me tune in more often to the Mexican network’s other sports presentations.

Cam Suarez-Bitar.

This really was an exciting FIFA World Cup tournament, right down to the poor officiating (at times) and Spain winning its first world title.  Being an American of Spanish/Latin and Mediterranean descent, it was a proud moment for me as well as all Spanish-speaking people around the world.  Thank you for reading this comparison between ESPN and Univision’s approach to FIFA World Cup 2010.  Please feel free to either leave your comments below or send them by email as some of you have already done.

    • Eric Pelea
    • July 14th, 2010

    Estas Acabando!!! I agree with you 100%. ESPN and the like should use an authentic approach to the game, meaning… If the announcer is not jumping out of his chair and yelling with excitement… He’s not doing his job! Gracias Univision!

    • Thanks for the feedback, Eric.

      Absolutely… I want to see some energy in a telecast. Not obnoxious silliness, of course, but some energy from sportscasters who can bring the emotion of the sport to viewers at home. I know that I am not alone on this, either.

      Cam Suarez-Bitar.

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