As I was watching today’s soccer, my brother flipped from la Copa Mundial to the World Cup on ESPN, after being fed up with the new Spanish commentator yelling gol! gol! gol! gol! instead of the classic gooooooooool!. The English commentary—aside from correcting my reading of country abbreviations, so that I finally knew who was playing—also gave facts about the countries. The facts were given as a list: Costa Rica is in central America; it is next to Panama; its nickname is (I forgot); its language is Spanish.
The presentation style was forced: this was obviously a feature of ESPN coverage, not original commentary. Still, judging on my own experience, which is a conservative reference, a high enough number of Americans know little enough about the outside world to warrant this feature. Good on ESPN for skipping elitism and reading this very basic information—I may know the region Costa Rica is in, but I can appreciate a little embarrassing refresher sometimes.
TV chatter during the boring parts of a soccer game might not be the best way to learn about politics, geography, and culture, but ESPN is doing America a service. If you don’t like it, switch to the Spanish channel.