For most sports fans, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa has been a pleasant and exciting viewing experience, capturing the interest of not only world football fans, but Americans also.
Most of us stateside have taken an interest in Landon Donovan's heroics, Clint Dempsey's sacrifice, and Tim Howard's consistency.
However, Bryant Gumbel, host of HBO's Real Sports has used his World Cup viewing experience as a platform for his cynical attitude towards American sports and culture in general.
On the June 22, 2010 episode of "Real Sports," Gumbel closed the episode with a 90-second praise session of South Africa 2010 that sounded more like a complaint stuffed into the suggestion boxes of the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NASCAR.
Gumbel is entitled to his opinion, but if he's going to speak to an audience in excess of 40 million (HBO's latest subscription figure), he should probably do some better research on the topic at hand. The 35-year sports reporting veteran was so inaccurate and ignorant in his delivery—it was embarrassing.
Highlights of his rant include:
"Where the game is concerned, I love the fact that they have running time and don't compromise the flow of the game for TV commercials."
Well Bryant, yes, you are correct. The game clock in soccer does run continuously, and there are no TV commercial breaks, except for 15 minutes at halftime.
Don't fool yourself though, soccer is the most commercialized sport in the world. Nearly every club in Europe wears the logo of a corporate sponsor on their uniform, the most integrity-deficient practice in all of sports.
American sports leagues aren't any more greedy than the organizations abroad.
"I love the fact that referees don't stop the action to let replays warp their beautiful game."
Perhaps we should ask the English how they feel about this comment.
FIFA has needed replay in their international competitions for a long time, and today's England vs. Germany match-up showcased quite possibly the most glaring error by any officiating crew in tournament history.
Frank Lampard's 39th minute strike would have leveled the score in the pivotal round of 16 tilt, but the ball bounced in and out of the German goal too quickly for human eyes.
The only thing "warping their beautiful game" is FIFA's childish stubbornness in refusing to utilize replay in the world's biggest sporting event.
"I love that their announcers, unlike Americans, don't feel the need to characterize everything that is surprising... as also unbelievable."
Bryant, have you watched a soccer match?
Maybe English and Scottish commentators keep their blood pressure low during telecasts, but take a listen to Pablo Ramirez of Univision during any game. A midfielder can miss a 35-yard shot 10 feet wide of the net, and Ramirez will scream like he's won the lottery.
Imagine Joe Buck raising his voice to jet-engine volume when David Ortiz flies to right field, 10 yards short of a home run.
"As for the players, I love that they mimic NBA superstars and go down as if they've been shot whenever they've been fouled."
Congratulations Gumbel, you love something that every soccer fan in the world hates.
"I love the single names... Ronaldo, Kaka, Drogba... all of which sound a lot more elegant than Manny, Pudge, Big Baby."
Wow. Where do we start with this one? First of all, "Ronaldo" is recognized as Cristiano Ronaldo. Secondly, Didier Drogba has never even come close to being considered a "single-name" individual. Thirdly, "Manny" isn't a fan-given nickname, Bryant. It's Manny Ramirez's first name.
Perhaps he'll apologize to you for his lack of elegance.
"Off the field, I love the fact that the crowd never stoops to something as silly as the wave."
Look who wasn't watching the World Cup last time around: Bryant Gumbel.
The wave is just as prevalent in soccer as it is in baseball. In fact, British publication FourFourTwo said after Germany 2006, concerning the frequent "waves"—"Why not give your ticket to someone who wants to watch the football?"
"I even love the vuvuzelas. Yes they are noisy, but they are preferable to the weekly din of the Billy Bob 500..."
Well, you've gone and outdone yourself Gumbel. Seven seconds after saying that fans don't stoop the something as silly as the wave, you say you love vuvuzelas.
Not to mention, you threw in some good ol' racism in your rant with the "Billy Bob 500" comment.
Way to go.
"Not one of them seems obsessed with what conference Texas plays in, whether or not Brett Favre is coming back, or where LeBron James ultimately goes. At least we have one pocket of sanity, even if for only two more weeks."
The truth is, no sport is more saturated with off-field drama than soccer.
It's at a fever pitch during the off-season transfer window for UEFA leagues, but international tournaments are full of it as well.
What is Nicolas Anelka fighting with Coach Domenech about?
What will Diego Maradona say next?
Are David Beckham and Landon Donovan going to speak to each other in Rustenberg?
Look, Mick Jagger and Bill Clinton are watching a match together!
Gumbel, it's clear that you have a resentment for everything that comes out of American sports. Your rant reeks of "I wish I was European" mentality.
The truth is, you should love the fundamentals of American sports. This is the only nation where sports pundits such as yourself can get away with so much ignorance and failure in your "research." Next time you sit down on camera in the Real Sports studio, do your homework and deliver something real.