CBS has mostly been a gift to soccer fans. Unlike Turner when it bought the Champions League rights, forgot about it until the day before the tournament started, and then dusted off some closet and called whatever former USMNT members were within an hour’s flight of the studio, CBS has taken its coverage very seriously. And that’s the thing about most soccer fans in the U.S. — we’d really like to be left alone to just watch the game without having Homer’s makeup gun fired at us to somehow gussy up the game we already love. We were drawn to an understated presentation and that’s where we’d like to stay.
CBS has understood that from jump street. In all of its coverage — Serie A, Champions League, Europa League, and NWSL — the network never tried to sell you a product you’ve already bought. CBS treated fans like adults (Fox can’t claim such) and authored their presentation in that fashion. The network has analysts, both in the studio and in-game, who just analyze the game. They aren’t trying to sell t-shirts with catchphrases or overpower anything. They’ve sent their studio crew to Italy for big games to show they understand the gravity of the occasion. Their video packages are some of the best in the business. They let the game be the center of everything. They’ve been a godsend in a world where ESPN and Fox can’t be counted on to put forth enough effort to leave the room to cut a fart.
But they’ve made their first huge error. For some reason, I can only assume brain injury among multiple producers, they’ve hired Ray Hudson to be a part of their Champions League coverage. And a major part, as he seems to be on the No. 1 broadcast, as he’s done PSG-Juve in the first matchday and then Barca-Bayern yesterday.
If you don’t know Ray Hudson, he’s certainly been tweeted into your timeline at some point when he was covering La Liga for BeIN Sports in what was the worst broadcast on TV alongside Phil Schoen. Schoen didn’t know anything and kept reverting to some phrases he learned at a college radio station, or so it sounded like, and Hudson made every game the equivalent of getting cockroaches dumped into your ears.
Hudson gained some popularity because he has a thick Scottish burr, which by itself entertains most as Americans have rarely evolved beyond “HE TALK FUNNY” levels of entertainment, and because he goes out of his way to come up with descriptions and adjectives that he clearly spent all week thinking of and designing.
I love a good vocabulary as much as the next guy, and they wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t screamed at the viewer in a fashion that could only be described as bludgeoning. Doc Emerick used a wide variety of words when he was calling hockey, but he didn’t do it to call attention to himself. They fit in with the rest of his patois merely to just describe the game better.
Hudson screams this stuff merely to bring attention to the fact that he’s screaming these words. He is the attraction in his mind, which is never, ever what a broadcaster should be. Some years ago someone told him what the word “magisterial” means, and he’s been egging our houses, ears, and brains with it ever since. He uses it like Macho Man used “Oh yeah!” It goes everywhere.
You probably heard some call of his of a Leo Messi goal, which was the major platform for his word masturbation to really get furious. Thankfully, the two minutes after any Messi goal was the only time Hudson would shut the fuck up as I assume some intern had to hose off Hudson’s wazz off the whole booth.
Worse yet, when he’s not talking (which is almost never), he’s still interjecting with noises as if someone in the booth is trying to pull his kidneys out through his asshole. Again, no 10-second passage of any game can take place without Hudson letting you know he’s there and what a pleasure it is for you to be listening to him, as you try to lift up your own couch so you can drop it on your head.
CBS’s strength has been its lack of flash when presenting the sport, presenting it as is and letting it sell itself. For a lot of fans, soccer is a refuge from the constant air raid siren that coverage of the NFL or NBA can become. Hudson is what would happen if you combined a riled-up Tony Romo with the worst of Gus Johnson, ran that concoction through the bowels of a rhino, and then made it broadcast while being squeezed by a boa constrictor. If he ends up being the guy I have to listen to for a semifinal, or god forbid, the final I’m going to defenestrate myself. Luckily for me, it doesn’t look like he’ll be sullying any Liverpool foray into those rounds.
You were the chosen one, CBS.
Get in the dirt, Ken Starr.
The world definitely seemed just a touch lighter and softer with the news that former right-wing toothless attack dog Ken Starr went dirt surfing. Starr certainly did a lot of hideous shit, but perhaps his most vile was having his hand at the wheel when Baylor University essentially made rape a perk of being a football player there, looking the other way on so many assaults, it’s a wonder Starr’s neck didn’t snap. Lives were genuinely altered and ruined and Starr couldn’t be bothered to lift a finger because it might cost a bowl game. The absolute worst of Texas’ ethos, and the first good thing he did for the world was yesterday.