Soccer’s place in the world, versus US television

At the journalism symposium I mentioned previously, one of the panelists was the News Director of WHAM-TV, Rochester NY’s CBS affiliate. I found a comment of his eye-opening. Someone in the audience asked him why soccer didn’t get the same television coverage in America that baseball, football and basketball enjoy.

He answered to the affect, and I’m paraphrasing from memory, “People who work in sports promotion and announcing tend to have come up through the ranks of their particular sport. Football announcers generally played or coached that game; it’s the same with baseball and basketball. There still aren’t enough people who’ve come up through the ranks of professional soccer – still relatively new to the US – to promote it and announce it to the degree of these other sports.”

I’m not a sports fan; I don’t know the rules of basketball or even how to play football. But I can see that sports announcing is vital; it brings a new level of engagement and meaning to a game, even for a non-jock like me who just happens upon a televised game. Shouldn’t soccer be getting its fair share of coverage? After all, soccer is played in more countries than most other sports; it could facilitate the bringing together of countries, at least on the playing field.

Why wait for soccer players to come up through the ranks, retire, and take jobs in promotions and announcing? We’ve never needed former stock brokers to present the financial news, or ex-cons to cover crime.

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