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My new soccer broadcasting pet peeve for 2013

Jan 1, 2013, 10:40 AM EDT

Play on

For 2012, no phrase in the world of soccer broadcasting bothered me like the “Unbelievable save!” or any of its cousins, the “Amazing save!” and the “Fantastic save!” and even the slightly less dramatic “Great Save!”

It’s not that I don’t appreciate outstanding goalkeeping; I certainly do.

I am speaking of one particular kind of “save,” one that is only a “save” in the academic sense that it prevented a goal. It’s where a shot comes flying directly at the man or woman between the pipes. At that point, what happens is equal parts self-preservation and actual effort to prevent a goal.

A man who flings his hands anywhere near the vicinity of his head or chest is not demonstrating any grand feat of athletic accomplishment. Credit for good reflexes, perhaps, but that’s about it. There’s not much that is actually “amazing” or “unbelievable” about it. Calling it so diminishes the saves truly worthy of glowing admiration.

Anyway, that’s old news.

My new broadcasting pet peeve is when the mouth behind the microphone boasts of “Brilliant refereeing!” for rudimentary employment of the advantage clause.

I know that proper use of “play on” doesn’t always happen, where a referee allows a play to proceed momentarily before passing final adjudication on a potential foul. But it does happen with regularity, so we are not witnessing some grand triumph in refereeing achievement when it happens.

So why, over and over (again this morning, which has spurred this post), does someone bang the drum for “Terrific refereeing!” when a referee simply waves the “play on” signal? It happened on a goal this morning.

That deserves only a quick comment acknowledging the appropriate officiating decision, if that. Then move on.

There will be something else soon enough more deserving of hyperbolic overreaction. Perhaps even an “Amazing save.”

  1. edlut63 - Jan 1, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    I really get bugged by “he put the ball into the BACK of the net.” Why must the announcers always say “BACK of the net” The man scored or he put the ball into the net. But, really, there are a lot of things in soccer in which to voice an opinion. I have a bunch. One thing that constantly bugs me is “why does the star of the team take the penalty shot instead of the man on whom the foul was committed? And, I could go on and on.

  2. capsfan19 - Jan 1, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    I like one and an irritated by one:

    Like: “ohh… He got a sniff of the ball!!”
    Dislike: “he’s bein hampered by a niggling injury”

    Wtf is niggling??? These are made up british words.

    • Steve Davis - Jan 1, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      Yeah, the whole British-isms is probably a whole conversation unto itself. I will say, though, a lot of time we hear them from people who are actually, you know, British! So I suppose they get a pass on that one, eh?

  3. mrtuktoyaktuk - Jan 1, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    Excellent article!


    Happy New Year, Steve!

  4. greej1938l - Jan 1, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    great article steve, i really enjoy reading all your work. To be honest though, what are they gunna say? Nice reflex? Nice deflection? i hear ya though…ive noticed and it gets very annoying.

    • Steve Davis - Jan 1, 2013 at 1:53 PM

      They are paid to know words! Lots of words. So, yes, “competent work,” “nice reflexes there,” “Howard turns away a shot” … whatever. Just don’t tell me something is spectacular when it isn’t. (Darnit! I forgot about the king of them all … “Spectacular save!”)

      • bobinkc - Jan 1, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        I disagree that announcers are paid to know lots of words; they are just paid to USE lots of words. If they have a profound tendency to repeat themselves constantly, it is precisely because they don’t know lots of words so they just keep repeating the same stock phrases over and over. Back in radio days when announcers actually gave you a play-by-play of basketball games, you had to draw a mental picture of what was happening as described in detail by the announcer. Now the only thing an “announcer” has to do is fill air time with banalities.

      • David Josef Clark - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        A simple “brilliant positioning” or “he read the play well there” or anything not REFLEXES related. Reading the game is part of what makes a great keeper. Misreading the game is what often makes a great save.

  5. charliej11 - Jan 1, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    You can’t have pet peeves about British announcers because they aren’t talented enough to be any better. Overusing the same old tired phrases like “he did very well” and “brilliant” is the best you can expect.

  6. dfstell - Jan 1, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Agreed on the refereeing stuff. Honestly, some commentators give more analysis of the refereeing than they do of the actual game being played. All I wish for are commentators who add something to the game that I’m not seeing myself.

  7. pensfan603 - Jan 1, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Ya i Hate when they prod people for basic things, my other pet peeve is when they build up plays or act like a terrible shot is like amazing, the spanish ones do this all the time, My other thing is probably hometown announcers talking up players actions when they arent that good but thats it

  8. edlut63 - Jan 1, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    I deplore the Spanish speaking announcers who feel obliged to announce a score with “gooooooaaaaaaallllllllll.” It is painfully annoying. Is there no real originality?

  9. docstraw - Jan 2, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    Perhaps it is because all anyone talks about is how bad officiating is these days … therefore when a guy does what he is supposed to do, it’s a big deal. Not saying I agree with that line of reasoning, just throwing some words out there.

    Remember when ESPN hired Dave O’Brien to do World Cup games? That was a good one. “Into the mixer …”

    One of my pet peeves is use of the word “restart.” It’s a free-kick, ffs.

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