It’s only a matter of time before ESPN decides to get a corporate sponsor for every play in the World Cup. When it happens, it might look a little something like this:

You can’t watch this video and think not if but when. Dave O’Brien was the shot across the bow and Alexi Lalas is the advance party of the impending disaster. If you think we’re kidding, you should see what ESPN is trying to do to the Premier League.

In the US, where ESPN built its reputation, there is a culture of coaches and players allowing cameras into dressing rooms, being interviewed live during games and even briefing broadcasters on their tactics ahead of a match so they can choose the best camera angles.

…ESPN recently made a presentation to all 20 Premier League clubs in which it appealed for more access to players and managers. The presenter Rebecca Lowe said the broadcaster wanted to “knock the door down” on the issue of access rights.

“It’s about trust. There are some clubs that won’t let us anywhere near dressing rooms and others that let you in,” said Lowe. “This is where the FA Cup might help us. If you’re going to do something with the FA Cup you have to get more access and more innovations. If we can show we can do it respectfully, it should build trust. In an ideal world it would be fantastic to be in the dressing room, get interviews, get the manager as he is going out.”

She added: “Hopefully we’ll be able to chip away at the Premier League and eventually get a product that is more like America, where you get that amazing access. It’s a massive mountain to climb, but we want to climb it.”

This must be the secret plan to get England back for what BP is doing to the Gulf of Mexico. If the FA wants to know what their future would be under ESPN’s foot, they should watch Monday Night Football or any college football game. The video above, while a parody, is not far from the truth.

If anything, the viewer comes away dumber from sideline “reporting”. Why do we need a sanitized version of what goes on in locker rooms? Do we need canned lines and cliches from managers and coaches? They add nothing to the viewing experience and don’t increase understanding of the game. We don’t need to see everything. What we do see “behind the scenes” is not what really happens. Can you imagine Alex Ferguson taking the time to speak to a reporter during a match? We can wait until after the match for Arsene Wenger to tell us that he didn’t see anything.

ESPN has already dumbed down sports to the point where it becomes a chore to sit through Sportscenter let alone a game. Part of soccer’s beauty is the ability to cut out all of the bullshit and focus on the match without interruption. Biased or stupid announcers like Tommy Smyth (he fits both) come with the package but it’s a small price to pay without the Boddington’s foot cam or the HP replay shot.

H/T to Slate.

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