¡Gooooooooooooooool! · 7 July 2018

Replica World Cup Trophy
by Bic
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Commentators can make all the difference when watching a sport. Especially, when watching the World Cup.

I have not watched tons of soccer on TV. (In fact, most of the soccer I have watched was of my kids playing the sport.) But I remember watching the World Cup as a kid on Grandma and Grandpa’s black and white TV. And I remember watching Soccer Made in Germany when I was a teenager. It was amazing to watch those World Cup games as a kid even though the commentators did not seem to know much about the game. They still impressed upon us that we were watching something incredible. And the commentators for Soccer Made in Germany helped us understand the game.

As I watch the current World Cup, I cannot help but think that I would rather have those commentators who knew little about soccer but brought passion to each game. I would even take the Soccer Made in Germany commentators who wanted to teach the game to the world over the ones today. Well, most of them.

There are some announcers who really bring passion to their comments. They know and love the game and give us feelings in their words. But it seems that the much of the announcing at the current World Cup is somewhat pedestrian. It is like listening to somebody comment on watching somebody else walking. (“Oh, he better watch out. There is a crack up ahead.”) Sure, they talk about the game and quote statistics about this player and that player. But when it comes down to it, it is not all that exciting to hear about this player passing to that player or about this statistic or that statistic. Especially when some commentators sound so very ho hum about it all.

I was not really thinking about how much commentators bring to a sport until I watched one particular match.

I was deciding whether to watch England vs. Belgium or Panama vs. Tunisia. Neither meant much in the whole scheme of things. England and Belgium were playing to see who won their group. Panama and Tunisia were just playing for pride. I started watching the England-Belgium game which was exciting at first, but then switched to Panama vs. Tunisia. I was going to switch back and forth but ended up only switching back once when I heard Belgium scored.

(I need to pause here for a moment to give a little perspective.)

Being a kid in the seventies meant that there was a lot of good sport on TV. And there were a lot of good commentators. I remember Howard Cosell calling boxing and football. Whether you loved him or hated him, he did his job well. He brought passion to any sport and you could always recognize his voice. I remember hearing Frank Gifford and Keith Jackson calling football and other sports. And I loved hearing John Madden as a football commentator in the eighties.

People like them seem to be missing from the soccer commentator seats. Mostly.

I remember watching a few matches of a previous World Cup on the Spanish-speaking channel. I was hooked on their commentary. They were animated. They were passionate. They were speaking a language I did not understand. But I still loved it. Even though I did not understand what they were saying all the time, it was like listening to those old-time broadcasters from when I was a kid. They loved to tell the story of the game as it was unfolding. And they brought passion to every minute of every game. Just like the commentators I remember as a kid.

Which brings me back to the Panama-Tunisia game. It was a game that meant nothing to anybody except those particular players and their fans. But that was not how the announcers called the game. They made it sound like it was the final.

Jorge Pérez-Navarro and Mariano Trujillo were calling the Panama vs. Tunisia game. And they were calling it in English. I loved their accents. But I loved their passion more. Like I said, they made it sound like the game was the final instead of a match that meant nothing to the tournament outcome. Pérez-Navarro said more than a few times that the teams were playing for pride, for their countries, and for the love of the game. It was plain to hear that the announcers were both calling the game for that same love. It is what has been missing from most of the other announcers I have heard so far this year.

One of the other things that I really enjoyed about listening to Pérez-Navarro and Trujillo was their banter. They seemed to enjoy talking to each other. About the game, about players, about everything. Trujillo talked a little about playing professionally. Pérez-Navarro chided Trujillo, who said the Panama keeper was the best in Central America. Their lighthearted banter was natural and enjoyable, not forced. They were animated about every pass, every shot, every ¡Gooooooooooooooooooooooooool!

It was the thirty-third minute of the game when I realized what that final missing piece from the other commentators was. Jorge Pérez-Navarro shouted, “¡Gooooooooooooooooooooooooool!” I could not believe my ears. It was what I did not realize I was missing from my 2018 World Cup watching experience. It had been what I had been missing most of my soccer watching life. And I got to hear it two more times during the game. I was ecstatic watching what many called a meaningless game. It was not meaningless to the players, their fans, and certainly not to the game’s commentators.

I know it sounds weird, but I wish there was a little more life in the commentators’ voices during the World Cup matches. I wish they would all have the passion of Jorge Pérez-Navarro, Mariano Trujillo, and a few others. But when it comes right down to it, I really just wish they would all have some signature call of a single word. A word Pérez-Navarro seemingly says until he runs out of breath. A word said after every score by every player. In even a so-called meaningless match.


Thank you Jorje Pérez-Navarro and Mariano Trujillo (and others). Your voices and your passion have made all the difference in my World Cup 2018 watching experience.

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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