Monday, June 9, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008: ESPN Coverage Shaded Gray

From an American perspective, the best part of Euro 2008 is the fact that all 31 games are airing live on the ESPN/ABC family of networks. Not since Euro '96 have American fans been able to enjoy the tournament on basic cable and the coverage will go a long way in raising the event's overall profile in the States.

ESPN is employing a two-team "booth" rotation. The network's Champions League lead crew of Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth handle the day's first game and Adrian Healey and Andy Gray take the second. The reason I put booth in quotation marks is that the crews are calling the games from Bristol, Connecticut. ESPN does a nice job blending the game audio so that you wouldn't realize that if not for the color analyst popping up in the Bristol studios 10 minutes after the game is over.

For Americans the big treat is the inclusion of Gray, coming over from England where he covers Premier League games for Sky Sports. If you're not familiar with his work, here's one of his better calls. Gray was nice enough not to make Tommy Smyth look like a total fool yesterday during their studio analysis of the German roster. Smyth was discussing what choices German coach Ottmar Hitzfeld would make; Hitzfeld has not managed Germany since the '72 Olympics. Gray tried to subtly mention this to Smyth, but the point sailed right over his head.

No word if we'll be seeing my personal favorite, JP Dellacamera, for the games later in the tournament. Dellacamera and partner John Harkes have been covering the slate of USA friendlies the past two weeks. You'd think they'll get the nod for the two games on ABC- the June 21 quarterfinal and the June 29 final.

No comments: