Darke vs. Johnson: The Fight for America’s Ears

Over at The A.V. Club, Rowan Keiser has a solid post about how things have changed (and not changed) for men’s soccer in the United States – with an emphasis on who we’ve been listening to when we watch it on television:

If you flipped on ABC or ESPN for a World Cup match this year or in 2010, you were almost certainly greeted by an announcer with an English accent. For the four World Cups prior, between 1994 and 2006, ESPN had used American voices like O’Brien—but the decision to change announcers wasn’t merely an aesthetic one. The networks took sides in an ongoing war over the nature of American soccer, where announcing is one of biggest battlegrounds about whether the sport should be Europeanized “football” or reflect a home-grown American soccer. It’s a conflict that encompasses media culture, fan culture, and even the overall philosophy of U.S. Soccer’s attempts to improve the national team.

Read the rest, then come back here. For my money, Ian Darke puts the rest of the ESPN World Cup announcers to shame when it comes to play-by-play (and the less said about Gus Johnson’s efforts to this point, the better). I don’t watch enough (read: any) MLS to know if there are any home-grown announcers up to the task yet, but I do hope that 4 years from now, when the World Cup is on Fox, we hear from some talented American voices.* Or at least some other voices that have more to contribute than just a smart-sounding accent.

* Can a voice be talented? Also, anybody think Gus is capable of getting good at this by 2018? He was atrocious in that Atletico/Real Madrid game a couple months ago.