Wednesday, February 6, 2013

FOX Sports Screws it Up Again with Gus Johnson Appointment

Columnist Ed sounds off on Fox's incredulous decision to use college basketball announcer Gus Johnson as the network's lead announcer for the Champions League and World Cup:

Unless this guy has spent the last five years reading about and watching the game, he’s not ready -- he'd have to be an absolute genius.  This move is yet another attempt by FOX to “American-ize” a game that doesn’t need to be “American-ized.”  Part of the fun of watching the games is that you’re transported to a different place.  [Editor's Note: Is the voice of the ultra-knowledgeable Martin Tyler so offensive that American listeners won't tune in?]  Keep Johnson on MLS until he proves he’s the best there, and only then move him forward.  

Many Americans already think the sport is unsophisticated, and this move will only serve to reinforce their ignorance of the game.  Give us more detail, not less.  We can handle it.  Just knowing there's an understory -- tactics, positional awareness, halftime adjustments -- is often enough.  See e.g., The Lord of the Rings.

Instead, FOX wants to dumb it all down for us poor American viewers.  The move sounds like yet another step in the direction of making their announcing teams as poor, unknowledgeable and uninspiring as possible -- just look at the awful crew who do Goals on Sunday.  Maybe that’s somewhat unfair: Warren Barton is fine and so is that reddish-haired guy; plus Christopher Sullivan seems to be gone (thank God!).  However, Rob Stone is annoyingly bad, Eric Wynalda is not good at -- well, speaking or analyzing [Editor's Note: He's an insufferable horse's ass, according to long-lost Columnist James].  Either way, all in all, it's not a very good broadcast despite the fake pitch and graphics (which they use to illustrate NOTHING).  

On the plus side, I do think their news show is better than it used to be (at least the set is), but still not up to Sky Sports news, which is a much easier watch [Editor's Note: Columnist James generally agrees with this sentiment, adding that he "misses the Scottish dude" but enjoys the "chick with the tattoos."]  ESPN with Macca and Ian Darke is a much better model; FOX should’ve have done something like that.  Get Gary Neville!!  He’d be awesome.

The other agonizing issue here is that there are probably tons of Americans who have lived and loved the game for years, know more about it, and yet were probably not even considered for the post.

In addition to being a bad step for entertainment, Johnson's appointment is also bad step for the growth of the game in America, because Johnson will likely not educate anyone on anything regarding the game.

That said, the article says FOX announced this wasn’t a one time thing, but would be permanent.  In that business, that type of "backing" basically guarantees a short stint before the network “changes direction.”

This is farlieonfootie for February 6.

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