The “luck of the Irish” has unusually special powers on St. Patrick’s Day.
And that luck usually comes in the form of a free pint of Guinness (or two if you’re really lucky).
On a more sober note, the story of St. Patrick is interesting, to say the least. Before all of us who have a lot of Irish in our blood or are just a wee bit Irish join in the celebrations of this day, perhaps we should first remind ourselves of the history and the man at the center of this joyous occasion.
I’m still looking for that four-leaf clover…
Gus Johnson as “The Voice of Soccer in America.” What?
To soccer fans and television viewers, it is common knowledge that announcers from the British Isles are the most elite soccer commentators on the planet. It’s a fact. As opposed to purely stating the action that is occurring on the pitch plus a few strategic suggestions, the gents from across the pond engage with each other and instead tell stories. They are free flowing and make it sound as if you are in a pub watching the game on the television while sitting next to a couple fellow football fans, and smart ones at that.
Now, is there any play-by-play man in the good ol’ United States of America who can send electricity through the veins of his fellow men, women and children, by which leading them to the nearest tele to indulge in a sport before considered foreign? Will the guy heard in the video below provide the spark that creates a fire of intrigue and curiosity for “the beautiful game” to people in the land that stretches from sea to shining sea and across purple mountains majesty?
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s all relive a few of the magical moments spoken by the aforementioned announcer during the chaotic month of March.
According to a recent Sports Illustrated article, Gus Johnson (yes, the one from the clip above), is being groomed by Fox Sports to become their vocal leader of soccer in America. “…Johnson begins the long road to becoming the voice of the 2018 World Cup for Fox.”
While he has been gaining experience by calling games of MLS’s own San Jose Earthquakes on the radio along with other low-key assignments, his tasks are about to send him into the soccer heavens.
As revealed in SI, “The 45-year-old broadcaster will call his first match for Fox Soccer on Feb. 13 (2 p.m. ET) from Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabéu when Real Madrid faces Manchester United in a mouthwatering Champions League Round of 16 match. The assignment is the first in a series of high-profile soccer matches for Johnson, including a second Champions League match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich in London on Feb. 19 and a Premier League game between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on Feb. 24. Johnson will call additional Premier League and Champions League matches and is scheduled to call the FA Cup final on Fox on May 11 and the Champions League final on Fox on May 25. Johnson will be on site for each of the games.”
Here could be a few common reactions to this news: Wow. Really? The guy who broadcasts college basketball? Do I get the Fox Soccer Channel? If not, how can I get it?
Before these colossal matches begin in one week, let’s hypothesize his potential based on culture. The men who hail from the British Isles speak casually, but with the highest degree of intelligence and humor, and are all around fun to listen to for ninety minutes. The Mexican soccer announcers are very intense with the fastest tongues and stretch the elasticity of the word “goal” longer than anyone else on planet Earth: “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLL!!!!!!”
FYI: This is the shortened version.
For your listening pleasure, the one and only Andrés Cantor:
And now Gus Johnson will try to define himself as the “voice” of American soccer on Fox. Thus far, there is a vacancy so-to-speak that is waiting to be filled. The commentators on ESPN are 90% former American players who may understand the game, but are poor to average at best in analyzing the sport and generating excitement, superior insight or perspective to the viewer. Also, when MLS resumes March 2nd, take notice the accent of the play-by-play broadcaster. Does it sound a bit…British? Just something to listen for on The Worldwide Leader in Sports’ soccer coverage.
One of the pivotal questions we will be asking is whether or not Johnson will more closely align to the American broadcaster or the British broadcaster? You could say the leap from one side of this spectrum to the other is about the size of the Atlantic Ocean.
Gus Johnson has a big voice and can gin up excitement like only a select few can in today’s world. What does he want to tell anxious soccer fans? As stated in the SI article, Johnson had to reflect on his response for more than a few seconds (30 in fact) as this sport has not become second nature to him…yet.
“What would I say to them? I would probably say just give me a minute and I’m going to become a convert, and once I do, I am going to give you the passion and the commitment to your sport that I do for every other sport that I’m part of. I see this as a great opportunity for my life, and I’m down with it and I want to get in there.”
The streets are packed. Bustling with men, women and children, street vendors each attempting to lure customers to their products/food with the branding, “The Best…” and that beautiful girl in between the commotion with a face that stops time like the circus tent scene in the movie “Big Fish.” Bodies are encapsulating me in the narrow space reserved for my family’s walk to our destination. Some of those going about their daily ‘dance of life’ are questioning my families’ very presence. Existing in their bubble of reality can sometimes require an escape in the literal sense (to be more incognito) as well as the metaphorical sense.
How will this chaos stop and change into a friendly place to mingle and get a little lost in? Most times it can be alleviated in just a few predetermined steps. In some cases though, it may require an athletic hop, skip and a jump (as was the case in downtown Cairo).
Whether enduring the camel two-step on the way to the awe-inspiring ancient Pyramids of Egypt or the economic metropolis of Hong Kong with its towering presence, each cannot be fully seen without a proper entrance. Sights of the mythical desert Sphinx, a pristine beach on the Seychelles Islands and the ceiling of a Norwegian barn were crisper, sounds of giant flies in the Australian Outback, crashing waves off the Sydney Harbour and the swoosh of snow while the snowmobile ahead of me is trying to avoid hitting an adult buffalo in Montana were heard with tremendously clear acoustics and smells of spices, fish and heat itself shocked my nose because of how and where I arrived at each of these various locations.
A reservation and simple entrance, made after an exhausted day of traveling in planes, trains and automobiles, can make all the difference in establishing a destiny of an exciting journey or tour bus boredom. It’s the contrast between television’s regular definition and high definition. Quite literally, there is no comparison.
Walking into the right hotel lobby in cities and countries all around the world has repeatedly solidified incredible enjoyment of countless vacations and trips (A quick shout-out and “Thank You” to my parents as I have been very blessed to travel and stay in the places I have). A busy European downtown, Swedish countryside or Canadian ski town can open up and reveal itself in ways so spectacular that they are nearly impossible to observe otherwise. You no longer feel like a visitor or tourist, but as one of the locals. You see small shops on the corner and quickly scurry in to take a gander at the delicious treats. Disguised restaurants down alleyways are discovered and result in being a wonderful adventure in more ways than one. You transform into an unrestrained explorer.
A grand, uniquely original, expensive and inexpensive hotel alike can take your trip and turn it 180 degrees into a once in a lifetime vacation.
My family’s vacation’s have taken me to: the original Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, a Stabbur in Norway, the unforgettable Club SA (Salvation Army) in Reykjavik, Iceland, a hotel next to a prison in Chiang-Rai, a gorgeous beach side resort in Bali, the stunning resort in the Seychelles off the east coast of Africa, a hotel in the jungles of Costa Rica, a hotel literally in the shape of a crocodile in Kakadu National Park in Australia, a hotel in Berlin, Germany where we, no joke, slept in the floor (each room was different & one had coffins…), a castle in Dublin, Ireland, an ultra-modern and high-tech tower of a hotel in Cardiff, Wales (best beds on the planet!), in the middle of the Wahiba Sands desert in Oman in a black and white tent with no electricity and in a room in the docked Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, to name only a few.
Rooms that are cramped with bunk beds are not viewed with a heavy sigh, but instead laughed at with amusement. A hidden and ‘experienced’ (code word for old) hotel in the less populated and less glamorous area of the old town can be viewed as a once in a lifetime moment off the beaten track of every other traveler (FYI-Old Dubai and New Dubai are correctly distinguished as such).
But now, I have a much wider view and appreciation of Dubai than most because of the unconventional choice made in regard to the hotel that night.
The decision to stay at a luxurious hotel for a night in Hamburg, Germany during the 2006 World Cup proved to be a sound decision. As luck would have it, the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team was staying at this hotel! It became clear on the drive up that there was something going on or somebody special was staying there because the surrounding area was blocked off with heavy security. Not only was it special to see the players casually walking around, but the room was magnificent. It is without question one of the moments from that trip I will never forget.
Those same jam-packed streets that are reminiscent of episodes of “The Amazing Race” were soon seen as a charming means of visually capturing the culture on the way to a museum with ancient artifacts and treasures. Hotels are vital to not only a night’s sleep, but is directly related to the experience and consequential memories that greatly define our perspectives. They are an important ‘first step’ during trips/vacations.
Perhaps most importantly, the right hotel will grant you a temporary resident’s visa with a uniquely special suspended outlook of the grand nature of a city, town or village. Your acclimation to your new surroundings gin up an adrenaline rush that is both exciting and full of curiosity. There is this freedom of knowing that you are just visiting and that there are very few (if any) consequences to your decisions while staying inside the boundaries of common decency and respect.
It sparks a renaissance within yourself about life and the world.
Even domestically, choosing a hotel is paramount. It was only a few months ago I was in a familiar city: New York. I picked the hotel for its surprisingly affordable price and because of its proximity to Central Park for a concert the next day. Hotel wise, I was staying in a new area and decided to take a stroll on that Friday in the early evening. As a result of the hotel I picked, I happened to walk past (& ultimately returned to) this gentleman on the street who I recognized standing in front of his hotel.
Once again, it was an amazing pleasure to meet you Dave Grohl.