Goal vs. Gol

By | January 31, 2015

Real Madrid faced Real Sociedad this morning, and, as predicted (and as per usual), los Blancos came out on top.  One of the highlights of the match: Karim Benzema’s beautiful goal in the 75th minute.  I was watching the game in English, but afterwards, when I wanted to see the highlight again, I found a Spanish-language version–and the differences in the way each announcer called the goal struck me.

I can’t find a way to embed the videos, so here are the links:

ENGLISH LANGUAGE CALL (scroll down to “Benzema’s second)


Ray Hudson (the English-language color commentator) is one of my favorite commentators in all of sports: after his call of Benzema’s goal, he went on to say that his kick had “better geometry than Pythagorus and Isosceles and more curve than Jessica Rabbit”–honestly, who thinks of that??  I love it.  However, I want to focus on his ebullience contrasted with his partner, Phil Schoen’s, calling.  Schoen calls games very mechanically, identifying the facts about a certain play sprinkled with important statistics here and there.  Hudson is there to brighten up the plays, delving deeper into the action and pointing out what makes what just happened exciting.  However, these two roles, importance vs. excitement, are extremely well defined: it reminds me of the layout of any other English-language sport, first one popping into my head being baseball, with a specific person assigned to call ball-strikes-etc. and another to break down the plays further (although I’m an enormous baseball fan, I don’t think that’s much of a complement).

Soccer just doesn’t fit this model.  Instead, these two separate, segmented roles break up the action–when I was watching the game, Hudson’s shriek when Benzema scored genuinely startled me.  Soccer is much better to watch when it’s called in a language that shares its constant, free-flowing motion, that matches its nonstop, sans-pause play: like Spanish. Specifically, I want to point out that the single announcer calling the play doesn’t skip a beat between Isco’s passes and Benzema’s goal until the inevitable bellow of GOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL, which gives the audience a time to revel in the goal in a way that Hudson’s shriek and immediate commentating doesn’t.

It makes me think that maybe this is another reason why soccer just hasn’t clicked in the United States the way it has in other countries: the language we speak, English, it clunky, scattered, angular, and just can’t match the rest of the world’s game.

PS: we miss you Cristiano

One thought on “Goal vs. Gol

  1. Muthoka Muthoka

    I found this article interesting. I think it has something to do with people`s cultures oo. Some cultures celebrate success more and are likely to talk about it more openly than other cultures where despite being successful, people will rarely speak about their success as this might be considered offensive by some in the society where the emphasis is for people to behave like equals.


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