Soccer aficionados love to bludgeon American troglodytes: We don't understand the beauty of soccer, they say, and today's anointment of human sports bullhorn Gus Johnson as the voice of the World Cup won't change that. They may be wrong, but they're not giving in. Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch broke the news today that Johnson will be the main play-by-play commentator for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, replacing ESPN's old European fogies. For readers — ahem, soccer fans — who aren't familiar with Johnson, he's the college-basketball announcing god of the Internet who's made a name for himself with a booming baritone as over the top as Dick Vitale. Like so:
And for more evidence, here's a link to the Gus Johnson soundboard, fitted with all of Johnson's signature sound bites. And you could see why ESPN's Bill Simmons, a soccer dilletante, announced Fox's shift with glee:
Today is now a holiday. Everybody go home, you have the rest of the day off. sportsillustrated.cnn.com/soccer/news/20…— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) February 5, 2013
Obviously, bringing that Johnson's vocal gusto to a soccer game would make the whole thing more fun for the non-believers, right? Here's what Johnson calling a game sounds like:
Did you like that? Did that get you excited? Yes? Maybe? Well that was sort of a litmus test. If you think Johnson can make a soccer play sound more exciting, then you just might be a soccer hating American. Because, well, as soccer fans are quick to point out, Johnson is out of his league and a poor fit.
Just look at some of the responses Simmons's tweet garnered:
Ian Darke and Martin Tyler are English commentators, who apparently yell a lot better than Johnson:
And if you look at Sports Illustrated's story on Johnson's World Cup voice, you'll notice soccer fans are groaning about the selection in the comments section. There's a lot of repetition, but this is one of the more sound discussions on the topic:
And that argument makes sense to us: growing up with the game and knowing life-long nuances is more important than learning the game on the fly. Come 2018, when Fox's acquisition of World Cup rights, uh, kicks in, Johnson will have had five more years of soccer-calling experience under his belt, and five more years to have changed the minds of haters — or, you know, five more years to have proved them right.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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