The Onion is on the BPI Blogroll for the same reason so many people watch Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert: too often their fake news is better than the real news. And often a secret part of us hopes we’ll wake up to find some fake story wasn’t fake after all.
Take this one, for example. From the “shocking” USA-England draw in the first week of the World Cup to the “amazing” Italy-New Zealand draw this past weekend, we worry the ESPN World Cup broadcast crew may die of collective astonishment before the tournament is over. Are they this “shocked” and “amazed” when their flights are on time and their baggage wasn’t lost? Is this a typical domestic conversation at an ESPN broadcaster’s home?
ESPN Host: Hi hon. I’m home.
ESPN Hon: Oh hi. I put dinner in the oven.
ESPN Host: Really?!? That’s amazing!!!
Draw matches between professional soccer teams are never really “upsets.” At that level of competition, you rarely see more than four goals in a match. The math of that works out to a lot of draws, even when a Very Good team plays a Not So Good team. In a typical season in a typical European club league, almost a third of the matches end in draws and only one or two clubs will average even two goals a match.
I mention European club leagues because most World Cup players, whatever their national teams, play for European clubs. I.e.: they play with and against each other ten months a year. There simply isn’t that much difference in quality between the top-20 World Cup teams and the rest, and even less difference within the top-20. Add it all up and a draw shocks only those who are shocked that Hon found and knows how to use the oven.
The World Cup has moments of brilliance a’plenty, but “That was brilliant” and “That’s unbelievable” are not synonyms. So to the ESPN World Cup crew, and sportscasters everywhere, a polite request:
Try believing what you see. That would be … unbelievable.