Sunday, June 26, 2011

Those Guys Have All The Fun - Soccer Edition, Part IV

The next mention of soccer in the book on ESPN's history is another indirect reference on page 440, in one of the short narrative prose paragraphs sprinkled intermittently in the book.

ESPN and the Disney Channel together increased Disney's revenues by $427 million, primarily because of subscriber growth at ESPN and increases in ad revenues, thanks to the 1998 soccer World Cup.

Love the way the word "soccer" prefaces World Cup, as if there's any other World Cup that really matters. What's also funny is that there's nothing more on soccer until page 581-3, and then there's a reference to the 2002 World Cup, but only in hindsight. Basically, pages 581-2 detail John Skipper's rise to the top position at ESPN after Mark Shapiro left to earn millions elsewhere. Skipper immediately moved to obtain rights to the 2010 World Cup tournament and nabbed it from under NBC's nose. The reason for his heated pursuit wasn't merely professional - Skipper had personally fallen for the sport, explaining why on page 583.

I started spending a lot of time watching it, including watching the World Cup in 2002, and loved the spectacle of it.

That's as close as the book gets to mentioning that the USA team had a stellar 2002 tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over Mexico and battling mighty Germany to the final minute in a 1-0 loss that might have turned out differently without Oliver Kahn in goal and an uncalled handball on Torsten Frings. That was the furthest USA advance in the World Cup in 80 years, but other than in Skipper's oblique mention of that being the year he really got into the sport, and that being the impetus for fighting hard for future rights when he became ESPN's leader 2005, it's not even covered.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rugby's World Cup actually matters....