Written by Ben Forman
Every single day I come home from work and turn on ESPN FC, and I hate myself for it.
As far as I know, ESPN FC is the only show dedicated to the sport that airs every day. It’s a panel style show that has highlights from the major leagues from around the world and the coverage swings very hard towards the more popular clubs here in the States. My fundamental gripe begins with this point. NBC Sports has done a phenomenal job of opening up the English Premier League to the United States. You can watch or stream every single match throughout the season at very little cost to the consumer. Formerly the average EPL fan had to cross their fingers that Fox would air the game they wanted to see, and if not you were confined to watching a shoddy stream from Serbia with commentators saying who knows what. When this set up was the only option soccer fans in the States had the ESPN FC setup made all the sense in the world. Your match wasn’t televised because your team doesn’t have the draw required. NBC has changed the game entirely though. I can now watch Crystal Palace take on Bournemouth on a Saturday morning at 4:45 AM in California or anywhere else that gets NBC. They have pundits that will break down most of the matches and they even air their own version of Match of the Day (a highlight show with commentary that is wildly popular in the UK). The average English Premier League fan will dedicate their early mornings to watching as much coverage as they can because, in part, it’s the most quality commentary they’ll find on television. And here’s ESPN FC, dedicating 10 minutes of a 30 minute show to how Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp might be able to still do wonders by the end of the season…TWO WEEKS after he was appointed manager!
This past weekend Jose Mourinho went off the deep end, got sent off at the half and was stuck watching his Chelsea side lose to West Ham United from the West Ham owner’s box. There were seven yellow cards in that match. Chelsea are in shambles. Was it covered on ESPN FC? Of course, they’re one of the biggest clubs in the world! In the same weekend Aston Villa sacked Tim Sherwood less than a year after he was appointed their manager. This was a man that saved Aston Villa from the drop and brought them to the FA Cup Final last season. He’s now lost six in a row for them and Villa sit on the very bottom of the table. He didn’t bring in any worthwhile players during the summer and everyone he DID have ran away faster than the Roadrunner when he sees Wile E. Coyote! There is talk that they’ll be appointing Remi Garde the former Arsenal man. This is one of the biggest stories in England right now, did ESPN FC touch it? Nope. People will argue that it’s available in their online content, but I say that’s a complete cop out. I go on ESPNFC.com, but it’s usually the last site that I check when it comes to football news. When I have access to sites like Sky Sports, BBC Sports, The Guardian, Telegraph, etc. ESPN FC dedicates time to multiple leagues around the world, many of which are no longer very popular with mass majority of football fans in the States. There is no reason why they can’t dedicate more time the Premier League, or just have a show dedicated to EPL teams.
Why do I keep watching it? Well, it is unfortunately the best way to quickly get highlights from all of the different competitions that are going on around the world in one tidy place. As anyone that understands the complexities of the sport know, there’s almost too much to keep track of if you’re dedicated to really knowing what’s going on. For just English teams you have the Premier League, League Cup (Capitol One Cup), FA Cup, Champion’s League and Europa League. You spread that into just the major leagues in Europe (La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, etc) and you’re now talking about having to find highlights for upwards of ten separate competitions. Every now and then one of the pundits will have a good point, but I feel like those that make good points are usually shot down by the others that constantly infect the show with their meaningless drivel.
For fucks sake, Harry Kane scored a hat trick on Sunday and it wasn’t even mentioned on the show! It WAS put on their online segment but Dan Thomas brushed it off based on the fact that Boruc had a terrible game. A man does one of the most difficult things there is to do in the sport and it’s brushed aside because the opposition goalkeeper didn’t play well. That’s the equivalent of someone in baseball hitting a cycle and it just being brushed off because the opposing pitcher didn’t have his best game. It’s sort of like Barry Bonds. Sure, the way he got the home run record was shitty, but he still had to get all of those home runs. There’s more than just swinging wildly and being strong.
Yeah, I’ll keep watching ESPN FC, but the second some other channel launches a superior highlights show, I’m jumping ship immediately.
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