What They're Saying: Keith Olbermann

"Stop imitating the English. Stop with the pitch, and nil and kit … It's not being in the know. It's being pretentious. It sounds like one of those movies about ancient Rome where they're all speaking with British accents. And worse, it makes the American soccer fans sound like nothing better than British Soccer Fan Junior."

-- The start of ESPN2's Keith Olbermann's "Advice for American Soccer Fans" commentary. (Yahoo!Sports)
18 comments about "What They're Saying: Keith Olbermann".
  1. Albert Harris, July 3, 2014 at 10:08 a.m.

    I'm not usually a fan of Olbermann or anti-soccer rants, but I agree with this one. Pitches are for cricket, kits are for model airplanes and nil is just Britspeak for the number 0, not a soccer specific term like "love" is in tennis. Fields, uniforms and zero are perfectly good American English words that describe the same thing without pandering to the Anglosnobs.

  2. Terence Chu, July 3, 2014 at 2:27 p.m.

    I completely disagree. I find nothing wrong with adapting to language that others have been using for over 100 years. Some of the terminology absolutely can be classified as soccer specific terms, as it should be. It give the sport its own identity and adds meaning to the drab language of the American sports landscape. Im never going to call a nil-nil game some inane like "zip-zip. It sounds ridiculous.

    You can still keep the unique identity of football (yes I call it football) without the need to feel like we are "pandering to Anglosnobs". Its this kind of inferiority complex that we dont have to subject ourself to while making soccer its own unique sport here in the US.

  3. Chester Grant, July 3, 2014 at 9:43 p.m.

    If you dont understand something new and are being made to look like an out of touch idiot - attack it.

  4. Matt Stachler, July 4, 2014 at 7:47 a.m.

    But that's what they're called.

  5. Tim Gibson, July 4, 2014 at 8:47 a.m.

    Sorry, I respect the World's game & the British claim to it's origins, whatever. It's Soccer here, we do not wear boots. It's a Soccer field & Half time, overtime and when no one scores, it's a tie. For this game to advance in this country, we need to break away from the UK and their style of play, it's dragheld us back long enough. And afterall, this World Cup, They sucked too! We should start anew with the game commentators. What's with the prerequisite English/Scots accents? It's Got To Go! We have enough history & Soccer culture of our own as well as American & Hispanic former Soccer players to replace them. Thank you for your help, but we have our own style now & they no longer understand our CONCACAF influenced game. Canada, USA , Mexico, The Caribbean & all of Central America, it's our time now to write our own history. Let's Do It!

  6. Ginger Peeler, July 4, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.

    I'm not sure what was in the Koolaide ESPN was drinking when they chose to go with the mostly Brit commentators. I've been "at sixes and sevens" trying to figure out the audience ESPN is aiming for. I know Univision has it's own spanish-speaking guys. So I thought maybe Great Britain was also getting our feed. Apparently not...same video but with their own announcers. So we have guys who obviously have a bunch of fact and stat sheets in front of them because they constantly entertain us with tidbits about the personal and professional lives of the players while ignoring the action on the field. Have you noticed the hesitation prior to naming the nplayer receiving the ball when they DO follow the play? I'd say they haven't done their homework and have to refer to a cheat sheet in front of them giving number and name. They did have one non-Brit announcer, Fernando Palomo who mostly covered the action on the field, but he or his color commentator were so busy talking about something else that they missed calling the buildup to a goal until the ball was actually going into the net.

  7. Valerie Metzler, July 4, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.

    I completely disagree with Olberman on this. It's not a matter of pandering. It just makes sense to use the terms by which equipment, plays and scores are called. And, to criticize accents? Please, let's not. Furthermore, I disagree that having more American announcers is going to affect the number of fans in this country. I mean, it shouldn't! You either like The Beautiful Game or you don't. And, announcers are either good or they're not. It doesn't matter where they're from. (Again, at least, it shouldn't matter!)

  8. Ginger Peeler, July 4, 2014 at 12:11 p.m.

    I think ESPN wants their announcers to cover all this extraneous information in hopes it will pull in more interest for ESPN's coverage of European leagues. Pimping for the EPL. But when Ian Darke starts talking, my eyes glaze over. He and Taylor Twellman have been calling the USMNT for far too long. If we go up a goal, Darke immediately starts asking if we can possibly hold our lead. If we're down a goal, he starts asking if there is any way for us to come back. When Belgium scored that second goal in stoppage time, he declared that we were finished! I find his doom and gloom approach to be insulting; he is our biggest doubter, for heaven's sake!!! Tell me again why he was chosen to call our games???

  9. Ginger Peeler, July 4, 2014 at 1:29 p.m.

    I'm watching Germany-France and the announcers are actually calling the action on the field. What a welcome change! Valerie, about 35 years ago my daughter was on a traveling team in San Diego. We hired a man from England who had moved to the United States. In England, he had played professionally in whatever division is next down from their best. He taught the girls one and two touch soccer (HE called it soccer). No long balls. He worked on their skills, understanding of the game and fitness. He discussed the field, their soccer shoes or soccer cleats, and their uniforms with the girls and parents. So, yes, I agree that we should use the terms by which these things are and have been called IN OUR COUNTRY for many years (before any of the players on our 2014 WC team were even born). Do you remember, it was probably 30-some years ago, when we were going to join the rest of the world and change over to the metric system? I admit, some of our liquids are now measured in liters along with our "American" fluid ounces. But I'll bet you're still using miles, yards, feet and inches in terms of distance. Please understand that I'm not criticizing accents just because they sound different. It's just that some of them are so strong, I can't make sense of what I'm hearing. I've got the same trouble with a lot of our young people playing college football or basketball when they are interviewed. I can't imagine how they can actually be in college because they're almost impossible for me to understand. I think a lot of it has to do with clear enunciation. But what is The Beautiful Game? Is it a statistic or is it the perfect volley, half-volley, bicycle kick, crisp pass, clean tackle, incredible save???

  10. fwpeteo fwpeteo, July 4, 2014 at 1:48 p.m.

    Olbermann knows his soccer, almost as much as the average soccer fan. However, he panders to the average sports fan - and soccer-haters - by going with this routine at every big event. And, he loves to push the button of us soccer-loving crowd with his snark. I've learned to ignore his opinions on soccer as a result.

  11. Nicholas Adams, July 4, 2014 at 1:53 p.m.

    Seriously??? This is the second Anti British commentary I've read in as many days, I've always respected Mr Olberman for his past journalistic efforts but it's quite obvious that when it comes to REAL football he and many other journalists, know Sh** about Sh**.
    For years America hasn't 'been interested' in 'Soccer', now that there has been a real coming together of a nation behind their team all of a sudden the 'nay sayers' start spouting off about the greatest game in the world and having a go calling us 'snobs' because we use terminology that has been used for decades and all of a sudden it's not right, (Just because you didn't invent it?).
    Mr Olberman, it's obvious you don't like soccer and belong with the 'dinosaurs' who think it's 'un-american' because you don't have enough ad breaks and it's too low scoring, (It's not supposed to be easy because you're playing with your feet!).
    All of you Anti British goons can do one and go back to your 'american', passionless, sports like the game that's an hour long but takes four hours to play,(?!)and of course the long dark teatime of the soul that is Baseball.
    I've coached the game of 'Soccer' for many years, the past seven here in the US and I always use American terminology to help players understand.
    I'm sure that in the highly litigious world we live in, some may even consider some of these comments to be racist!?

  12. Valerie Metzler, July 4, 2014 at 2:25 p.m.

    My own bias about accents is that I love them! I always get a kick out of hearing my native tongue spoken with an accent different than my own whether it's from another region of the U.S. or another country, eh.

  13. Ginger Peeler, July 4, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.

    So now I'm watching Brazil-Columbia. Ian Darke is blathering as always. In terms of stats, I'd say he calls the action on the field 33% of the time. I'm so used to sports coverage where I can turn up the sound and step into the kichen and still know what's happening in the game. With ESPN's coverage, you have to watch every moment. And the constant jabbering is very distracting even if you watch. This referee seems to have lost his cards. Nope! I take it back! He finally found a yellow in his pocket. Oh my! He just found another. A minute left to play and he finally decides the game has gotten chippy. I hope he doesn't get another game to whistle.

  14. Ginger Peeler, July 4, 2014 at 6:09 p.m.

    Sorry, I thought Darke had said "a minute left to play." It was more like 15.

  15. David V, July 5, 2014 at 11:35 a.m.

    Keith Olbermann is one of the biggest knuckleheads around... BUT... you've heard the old adage of "even a broken clock is correct twice a day". Oldbermann is right here... we need to get rid of all the British commentators... OK, have 1 or 2 of them out of your team of 20 on-air people, but no more...England haven't done anything on the world stage for almost 50 years... their 4th division rejects come to America and ignorant Americans pay them like they are something special when it comes to coaching American youth, blechhhh... stop the insanity... a little color on a player and who his club team is and what he did there this past year is OK, but I get so tired of hearing about "in the England this, and the England that..." all game long... you hear them so often, it wouldn't surprise you if they said "the queen said this about football"... and they think all the americans assume it is the BRITISH Queen who is being spoken about, and that Queen is the Queen to Americans too... There are other queens... are we talking about Denmark, Spain, somplace in the middle east, just where? Sometimes their England rantings are so voluminous I'm expecting them to spit out "God save the Queen!"

    I won't hold this against him, but the EVERTON (English Premier League) manager, Roberto Martinez has been the very best commentator for ESPN... RUUD and Ballack are Duds, Alexi is fun to hear and listen too... I can't help thinking, everytime I see Ballack or hear his comments on ESPN, or I can't help seeing in my mind's eye Michael Ballack Stomping on Xavi's foot in the Euro 2008 Final (I think Ballack the hacker is the great ESPN commentator - he's about as fitting as Luis Suarez being the official Vampire Victims advocacy chairman)... and boy, did those two, whoever they were, bore the world to death when Germany knocked out France yesterday, those commentators contributed to that game being a dud

    I hope Howard Webb doesn't get another game to whistle, he destroyed the 2010 FINAL.... destroyed it!

  16. Mark Hardt, July 6, 2014 at 8:52 a.m.

    Just pointing out Pitch and boots as being why we should not have British announcers is the least of it. Have you heard the ones from Scotland, Ireland, the north of England, Manchester-Liverpool, or London Cockney? I can't understand them. Only the upper class London ones I can understand. We have our own announcers at the MLS, NASL level calling on local tV or Radio. Lets have an open casting call and pair them up with retired US internationals. Also on the half time show why do we need Robin Van Persey, Michael Ballack, Roberto Martinez and others. Again I can not understand them. And I speak German. The only one I can understand is Lalas and the Canadian guy hosting eh.

  17. peter mcginn, July 6, 2014 at 9:59 p.m.

    Keith whatever his name is has to be the most annoying sports personality known to man kind. He doesn't know his head from his a...in most sports and he is not funny. It is embarrassing to watch that goof try to be witty and funny and he simply is not funny or witty or knowledgeable. He is just a talking head spewing nonsense at all hours of the day and throwing his stupid papers. I agree with though. My kids play soccer and I buy 3 sets of " cleats" per yer per kid or so it seems at a 150 a pop so I can call them whatever I want and " boots" ...just doesn't work. For one they are not boots because they are low tops. Pitch..I'm ok with that...nil nil..I'm alright with that. Kit..it's freekin uniform and it cost 337 bucks for a new one and goes into Nikes coffers.

    That being said the U.S. has really gone too far - go to a college match some day - they use the score board, use the buzzers and have free substitutions which is a joke. I think it is a soccer match and not a game - even in the good ole USA.

  18. David V, July 12, 2014 at 8:26 p.m.


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