So a little slip up between Adnan Virk and Alexi Lalas on the Mike and Mike show has been making the rounds. If you listen until about a minute in, Virk asks what fans should expect from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo from this tournament. Lalas politely corrects him, and the interview goes swimmingly from there. Twitter wasn’t done, and so played the world’s tiniest violin over the fact ESPN supposedly hates soccer, which ironically is exactly the kind of response which would make anyone hate soccer more.
There is nothing AmeroCanadian soccer fans like more than playing “mainstream media” victim, but the fact is no one should care about this. Mike and Mike is an all purpose sports show. That means they have to be experts on something like ten different realms of professional sports. Hockey, American Football, baseball, basketball, golf, fishing, chess, laser chess, and laser fishing—you name it, they have to know the right names for the right teams.
Compare for example, Beisbol: there’s the International Baseball Federation, and one elite league based in the USA: Major League Baseball, under which you get triple A, double A, and lonely bullshit A.
Then we have soccer. Six global confederations—CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, CAF, OFC, AFC, and UEFA. Within those, you have your domestic club first divisions, of which in Europe arguably six count as “elite,” and which feature on average twenty teams. Then there are the second divisions, third divisions, and so on. This is England’s for example:
You might think a sports broadcaster wouldn’t have to know about anything below the first division in each country, except promotion/relegation and frequent player trades up and down means you do. And we haven’t even left Europe yet.
Then there’s the confusion in “international football” and the fact “the Euros” (aka the European championships, which take place every four years, unlike the Africa Cup of nations, which is held every two years) sounds awfully similar to the European Cup, which I haven’t even spoken about yet (that’s a club competition featuring the “champions” of each European nation, plus two or three other teams depending on each European country’s UEFA coefficient, and not to be confused with either the UEFA Cup, for not-champions-that-do-sorta-okay, and the CONCACAF Champions League, which features North American clubs, although the Mexican clubs are allowed to compete in the Copa Libertadores in CONMEBOL, so…).
And of course, the hundreds of countries from which these players emerge isn’t doing anyone any favours either. So the fact Messi plays for Barcelona, a team he trained with as a child, and that features in La Liga, in the Copa Del Rey, in the Club World Cup, in the Champions League, in some pre-season weirdo tournaments in Dubai, and then plays for Argentina in the Copa America, in the World Cup, and in some weirdo Brazil-only tournament, might be confusing to a sports broadcaster who is expected to be thoroughly knowledgeable on laser fishing. Yes, I know Messi is the best athlete on planet earth, but that doesn’t mean the entire world should know the difference between the Euros and the European Cup and the World Cup.