Goooooooooooool or Goal?
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This year will mark the 20th anniversary of "goooooooooooooool" (give or take an "o" depending on the moment) becoming part of the American vernacular.
With the uninspiring calls coming from American television, it's no wonder that Univision's legendary announcer Andres Cantor became an instant sensation. Cantor's passion and energy made the game feel like the most important thing in the world, even for people that couldn't understand a single word of Spanish besides the aforementioned "gol." It became a personal badge to tell people "I only watch the games in Spanish." Cantor's perception-transforming work earned him a Regional Emmy and an award from the American Sportscaster Association and he became a pop culture phenomenon - showing up in a Geico commercial, The Simpsons, movies like Speed Racer and Muppets Most Wanted.
NPR recently had a story highlighting the way Spanish language broadcasts are able to transcend language and create an emotional connection to the experience of the game without needing to understand the words.
So, the question is whether this cultural phenomenon will continue this year. ESPN dramatically stepped up its game for the 2010 Cup, ditching American announcers for a European-dominated crew led by Ian Darke. And, importantly, Cantor hasn't been the voice of the Cup on American TV since 1998 after moving from Univision to Telemundo. The difference for ESPN was noticeable, but Cantor's work and the Spanish language "stye" of announcing games still has a strong emotional pull. The other interesting factor is the increasing sophistication Americans might have for the game in the coming years. The 1994 Cup is seen as the catalyst for soccer's acceptance in the States, but only in the last 5-10 years does it feel like we have really embraced the game and started to understand it. Back then, many viewers needed guidance about the flow of the game, when an attack was building, and when pivotal moments were occurring. The emotion and energy of Cantor's voice provided that direction for viewers in a way that more precise analytical commentary could not. But now, with a better understanding of the game, American viewers are likely to get more insight from Darke and the ESPN team than ever before. We'll have our ears open to see if the Spanish language broadcast continues to carry the cache of the past this time around.
And, what is true this year may not be true in 2018. For Cantor aficionados, help is on the way as Telemundo has the broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 Cups. And, the English language broadcasts will move to Fox from ESPN - a source of much consternation as Gus Johnson appears to be being groomed to be the lead announcer for Fox.
And whether we turn to them for the Cup or not, we can always count on Univision for this: