I’m going to take a moment away from Fulham to write something that I think all fans of this sport can appreciate.
In England, you have your iconic commentators/broadcasters for most sports, but especially soccer. I’m not going to pretend I know who’s the most famous or well-liked, but I’ll throw out a few names that I’m aware of: Martin Tyler, Ian Darke, Jonathan Pearce and Barry Davies.
While you may not personally like some of the famous commentators, they all have some meaning to the sport, and they had some influence on how you perceived the sport while growing up.
It’s the same here in the States. In Baseball, football (American), basketball, hockey, etc announcers shape the way we see the sport. For example, as a Yankees and Giants fan growing up, I have heard the same voices (John Sterling for the Yankees and Bob Papa for the Giants) for years, and when they retire eventually, listening to the sport won’t be the same.
Coming to my point, there’s one broadcaster here who has shaped the way Americans view March Madness. Gus Johnson is a new-age broadcaster who’s unique way of identifying with the viewer’s tension is unparalleled. If you don’t know him, his most well-known quality is his incredible excitability. Because of that, he’s somewhat shunned by the older generations, and he’s become a bit of a cult hero for the younger kids like myself. He doesn’t go crazy all the time, but only when it’s warranted.
Thanks to Gus, phrases such as “The slipper still fits!!” “Morrisooooooooon!!!” and his signature “HA HA!” have become part of the regular lexicon when discussing college basketball.
Well now, good ol’ Gus, who no longer calls March Madness (at the moment) because CBS Sports are idiots and didn’t renew his contract, has found himself some spare time, and chose to use it wisely, calling soccer matches for the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS. While this may not seem important, it’s another small sign that soccer in America is slowly garnering the attention of top broadcasters, and we all know how much the media giants in America decide what’s important for all of us who can’t think for ourselves. Here’s his call of their most recent last-minute win.
It’s kind of clunky, and obvious that he’s still getting used to the flow of the game, but he has the terminology down, and what better sport to make use of his sudden excitability than this one? It makes sports broadcasting junkies like me giddy, and whether you like Gus Johnson or not, it’s a step in the right direction. It tells us that this sport is slowly but surely gaining some steam in the United States. And this can only mean good things for the rest of the community.
Published with permission from Fulham's Finest.