From: TMC on

By Greg Connors
June 11, 2010, 10:30 PM / 4 comments

Poor Dave O'Brien didn't know what hit him four years ago. O'Brien, a
baseball announcer who does Red Sox games on radio, was asked by ESPN
to give soccer a try, as lead play-by-play man for the World Cup.

O'Brien had played soccer in high school, but many fans were not happy
that he was learning on the job during the sport's premier event.
Thousands signed an online petition protesting O'Brien's employment as
lead soccer announcer.

The World Cup returned Friday and the announcing controversy seems so
four years ago. The main play-by-play man this year for ESPN and ABC
is Martin Tyler, England's best known soccer announcer. Tyler knows
the game and doesn't need to overcompensate for lack of knowledge by
screaming "Gooooooooallll!" after a score. "Can you believe it?" is
about most exciting exclamation in his arsenal.

"As always when people say "what do you do?' I say, "I shout goal' for
a living and I hope to shout goal many times down the ESPN
microphone," Tyler said in a conference call earlier this month.

Adrian Healey, Derek Rae and Ian Darke are other British announcers
working on the ESPN telecasts.

"It was not that we said that we need all four announcers to have a
British accent," ESPN Executive Producer Jed Drake said.

"We did research [after 2006] and found that our audience was divided
into two very distinct groups," Drake said. "The first being a very
knowledgeable soccer audience and the simple math of ratings, if you
can take that audience and get them to watch for a longer period of
time, it has the same effect as growing the number of viewers."

The United States team opens against England today (TV coverage at
1:30 p.m., Chs. 7, 5). Tyler was asked if any pro-British bias might
seep into his narration of the game.

"I'm a professional broadcaster," Martin said. "I never use the word
"we.' ... I won't be looking upon it as an Englishman
broadcasting. ... May the better team win. ...

"There's absolutely no concern for me being seen as English; I'll be
seen as Martin Tyler, a broadcaster who happens to be English."
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