Gus Johnson: 4 Reasons Why He Should Call MLS Games
Gus Johnson. It's a name more closely associated with the NFL and March Madness, but Fox Sports wants Johnson to be the lead announcer for the 2018 World Cup.
The idea came from Fox Sports president Eric Shanks in October 2011. FIFA had just awarded the 2018 and 2022 broadcast rights to Fox, and as Richard Dietsch of SI.com wrote, "Shanks wanted to do something bold with his soccer coverage."
We're now almost 18 months into this process and Johnson has already had some pretty high-profile matches to call, including Real Madrid vs. Manchester United in the Champions League. Johnson is also scheduled to call the FA Cup final on May 11, as well as the Champions League final on May 25. He will be on site for both.
With all that in mind, here are four reasons why Johnson should be calling MLS games.
If there's one thing I can't stand when listening to or watching a broadcast (of any sport, much less soccer), it's the feeling that the announcer would rather be anywhere else than the game he's been tasked with describing for us.
Now, I don't necessarily want a homer, either. Especially if I'm not a fan of either team or have a strong dislike for the team the announcer favors.
No, I want someone who will get excited when the game gets exciting. I want guys like Gary Thorne, Ian Darke and, yes, Gus Johnson.
The video I've included on this page is a good example of what I'm talking about. This double-overtime game from the 2010 NCAA tournament is what I want.
Can it be taken too far? Sure, but this is a case where too far is better than not far enough.
It's not as though Johnson is totally without experience calling MLS matches. Now, I'll admit that he still has some work to do on his knowledge of the game, something Johnson would probably agree with, but he's not starting from zero.
The best way to improve at something is to keep doing it, over and over, until it becomes second nature.
Desire to Improve
When he was asked about his level of knowledge of soccer, Johnson told SI.com he was "a novice." He also said:
The key for me is to try to take it -- and I don't mean to sound cliché -- but literally one match at a time. Learn everything I can about that one match and the two sides that are playing and go with it from there and allow my knowledge to grow.
In the article, Johnson also said he's started playing pickup soccer as a way to "feel and learn the game." He plays as a right-center back because, "I'm not in shape to be a midfielder."
If Johnson works as hard at becoming a better soccer announcer as he has at everything else, he'll be fine.
Lightning in a Bottle
The Urban Dictionary defines "lightning in a bottle" as "A moment of creative brilliance." Only time will tell if Fox Sports president Eric Shanks' idea to attempt to make Johnson the lead voice of the 2018 World Cup was a moment of creative brilliance.
The thing is, it wouldn't be the first time an announcer had become well known for a sport they didn't have all that much experience in.
In 1980, Al Michaels was, for all intents and purposes, a baseball announcer. How did he get to do hockey at the Lake Placid Olympics? None of the other announcers working for ABC at the time had ever done hockey. Michaels' experience? One game at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics on NBC.
I'm not saying that Johnson is as good as Michaels is yet. What I am saying is that it wouldn't be unprecedented to have Johnson become well known for soccer.
Agree with me? Think I'm full of it? Let me know in the comments.