Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rick Reilly (ESPN) tries a World Cup hatchet job: and fails miserably.

Is there anything uglier in writing than someone who knows nothing at all about a particular sport trying to write a complete hatchet job on said venture?

Wherever possible I try my best to avoid reading Rick Reilly. I am sure he is a top notch gentleman (and all signs point towards that), it’s just he writes like a pastor delivering a particularly pedantic, preachy sermon on a lazy Sunday afternoon. His latest target? The World Cup.

One of the major problems with Reilly’s hatchet job on the tournament is, it shows he has absolutely no interest or knowledge in soccer whatsoever. There are plenty of ESPN writers who are pretty new to the game, but have made some effort to get to know the nuances of the World’s favourite game. Reilly? Not a chance.

Naturally he starts his assault with a complaint about the Vuvuzela. Already dealt with that, so let’s move on. Next up, a four year old like attack on the bibs substitutes have to wear, so that when they warm up they aren’t confused with the action. Reilly says ‘They're very purple and dorky.’ I would imagine he put all his journalistic efforts into that one.

One of the most idiotic attacks he makes is on goal keeper gloves. Reilly calls them the ‘’ The Twinkie-fingered gloves goalkeepers wear.’’ Really only one answer to this one, Reilly should stand in nets and face a couple of shots off the boot of Wayne Rooney. A couple of broken fingers later it would be interesting to see if he thought the gloves were still too big.

What is most glaring there is, it is absolutely clear Reilly has never faced a shot in anger in soccer, and has no concept at all how fast the ball travels and how hard a shot can be to stop.

How can you take a shot at goal keeper gloves though, seriously? Are the mitts baseball players wear frivolous? It’s basically the same thing. Are the over sized gloves the NHL goalies wear that funny? Again, basically the same thing. Reilly seems to be really stretching to make any kind of a point here.

Amazingly for his fourth ‘point’ he goes back to the Vuvuzela. Completely unsure if he is trying to be funny by making the point twice or if his editor just missed this, however it is a bad sign if you are left thinking too hard about whether someone is trying to be funny or not.

Reilly than takes a shot at diving, or flopping, and makes this point; ‘’ We live in the U.S., where hockey players pop their eye back into their socket without missing a shift.’’ That’s true, however you also live in a country where they play NBA basketball, a game with so much diving and flopping your average La Liga player (the home of the flop) would blush. Give me a break. The flopping (from both sides) in the NBA finals is at Def Con one disease contagion level. It’s absolutely pathetic! So before you start the inane, jingoistic and ugly ‘we live in a country where..’ have a look at your own sports, particularly the dive/flop happy NBA.

‘We live in a country where…’ are you for real Rick Reilly? Are you writing the script for a particularly asinine advertisement for Dodge trucks or something?

Reilly then has a pop at Yellow cards j0king ‘ though the little yellow card has some kind of superpower.’’ Well, it does, get two of them and you are watching the rest of the match on a TV in the club house. So, yes, they certainly do have some kind of superpower. Perhaps Reilly did not know this, but if that’s the case he should have been hammering out his next tear-at-your-heart-strings piece on some cat being stuck in a tree instead of writing about soccer.

Reilly mails in the last three points, two don’t even bear mentioning and his last one is, that’s right, you guessed it, the Vuvuzela again. Nice work Rick, how much were you paid for that piece?

The major problem for Reilly, apart from the fact that he is either a lazy writer or shouldn’t have tackled something he doesn’t know anything at all about, is that the US sporting public is slowly getting to know soccer. The difference in the last four years is incredible. The US sporting media writing you read on soccer is improving in leaps and bounds.

This means that Reilly’s lazy and worst of all singularly unfunny ‘article’ really stands out like a sore thumb

Thankfully Reilly very rarely tackles soccer (as his shown by his almost arrogant lack of knowledge on the subject) and thus will return next time to tackle more serious topics, like how a recent rom-com flick made him feel, deep inside, or how Tiger can make himself a better person (he actually wrote that last one).

Until you learn something about the game, Rick, just avoid writing about soccer. You only make yourself and ESPN look stupid otherwise.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

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