Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wed July 2: Introducing "WHAT UP, Media?!"

One of my favorite things to look at is how the media, namely television and the internet, tackle giving fans what they want: live sports. Today I introduce to you a new weekly feature to this blog: "WHAT UP, Media?!" Here, I discuss several issues in sports media, like television coverage, the job of commentators and analysts, and internet video.

This week, we take a look back at ESPN's coverage of EURO 2008 and how it impacted the game here in the United States.

ESPN Continues Success with Soccer
With the exception of that semifinal game between Germany and Turkey where the signal was lost several times in the second half, ESPN should give themselves a pat on the back for their wall-to-wall coverage of this soccer tournament. The Walt Disney owned network did its best to give fans what they want: live soccer. They made Euro 2008 the most accessible European soccer championship ever with live coverage not only on its broadcast networks, but also online via They also provided convenient replays and a highlights show. The development was most apparent when the tournament became the top story on several editions of Sportscenter.

I was also glad to see that ESPN used actual soccer commentators and not Dave O'Brien, who was the main play-by-play guy for the 2006 World Cup. Sorry but for European soccer, its crucial to have an announcer that 1) comes from Europe and 2) know something about the European side of the game. Though they broadcasted from their studios in Bristol, Connecticut and not from the stadium itself, having commentators like Andy Gray and Adrian Healey made watching the game more exciting and fresh.

The exposure of European soccer in the United States did something that MLS will unlikely be able to do for a long time. Broadcasting EURO 2008 brought the world's best soccer into the homes of fans who are more used to watching baseball and American football. Here in New York, it allowed immigrant families to cheer for their home country. I remember when Greece won in 2004 how excited and motivated fans in Astoria, Queens were. But in 2004, matches were only available live via pay-per-view.

ESPN plans to broadcast more live international soccer games, including next year's FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa. For the majority of June, it was nice to have something to watch in the office rather than do work. And surely, soccer in the United States has more of a chance of becoming a major sport. The increased exposure may inspire more fans and kids to get into the game of soccer, which would help USA get more in touch with the rest of the world.

Copa Libertadores Final (2nd Leg) Tonight: Fox Sports en Espanol, 8:30PM EDT
Taking a look at some of the important world events happening in sports, we stay with the soccer theme as we look to tonight's Copa Libertadores Final from Maracana Stadium in Brazil.

Liga de Quito (from Ecuador) has a 4-2 lead over Fluminense (from Brazil) after last week's leg in Ecuador. Fluminense will have the crowd behind them though and Brazilian crowds can be very supportive. Fluminense only has to score two goals to equalize the final and sent the game into PKs. I personally think that Fluminense has the power to score more than two goals.

Both sides are looking for their first ever Copa in team history and a win for Ecuador would boost the confidence of a nation that has sent a national team to the last two World Cups. For more of a preview, check out these two articles:

Williams Sisters Closer to Final at Wimbledon
Both Serena and Venus Williams advanced to the semifinal round, joining Elena Dementieva and Jie Zheng, the surprise semifinalist from China who defeated Nicole Vaidisova in the quarterfinals. Today the men play their quarterfinal matches and the semifinals will be played on Thursday and Friday.

For the latest updates, log on to:

Natalie Coughlin Breaks More Records at Trials
Seems like you're not a well known swimmer unless you a break a world record. Well at the Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska, they seem to be getting broken everyday, especially by Natalie Coughlin. Yesterday, she broke her own world record in the 100m backstroke with a time of 58.97. She broke it a day earlier with a 59.03, two minutes after Hayley McGregory broke the previous world record also set by Coughlin.

Expect more records to fall tonight as the women race in the final of the 200m freestyle and the 200m Individual Medley. The men race in the 200m Butterfly. Coverage starts at 8PM tonight on USA Network.

We'll take a look at tonight's Copa Libertadores final and also take a look at other nations' Olympic Trials. We'll also preview the 4th of July weekend in sports. See you then.

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