Ray Hudson, Phil Schoen: The Case for the Mute Button (2014)


Image Courtesy of beIN Sport.

World Football tends to get a lot of folks excited, especially in a World Cup year. Sport is defined by the passions it riles but there are more than a few announcers out there that can take zeal into the realm of aggravation.

Gus Johnson comes to mind, Dick Vitale another, and Kevin Harlan’s voice could grate on the Dalai Lama’s nerves.

In world football, there’s Ray Hudson, an English ex-pat who began his playing career with Newcastle but toiled mostly in the NASL. Hudson has a way with words and his penchant for flamboyant verbiage has provided him a career as a color-commentator.

After working as the Miami Fusion’s color man, he was offered the manager position where he led the club to the playoffs in 2001. When the Fusion disbanded he took on the same post for D.C. United.

Hudson worked for ESPN during the 2002 World Cup and after being relieved of his duties at D.C. United in 2003, he took a commentating post at GolTV in 2004. When Gol’s La Liga coverage was outbid by beIN Sport in 2012, Hudson’s services were retained alongside long-time partner Phil Schoen.

Schoen and Hudson were a nice change of pace during their GolTV days. Before soccer hit the really big time here in the states, GolTV was a good alternative to the now-defunct Fox Soccer Channel.

Schoen’s delivery tended to be pitch-perfect and contrasted the rambunctious buffoonery of his booth partner.

Hudson’s verbal flights of fancy were entertaining in those days, his lilting Geordie shrieks and overwrought goal-calls added something to La Liga or Serie A matches; leagues that still aren’t quite as engaging as the Barclays Premier League, even with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi playing in Spain.

Then something happened. The marionette strings started to show.

Americans tend to like the loud, colorful and ecstatic—especially when it comes to sports—but a full 90 minutes of Hudson squealing over half-chances and missed through balls tends to devalue the moments when actual goals are being scored.

That’s the problem with Hudson, it’s all one tempo. Maybe he’s going Tony Montana down there in South Florida; it’s got to be the charley or a bottomless triple macchiato.

With announcing, sometimes an ounce of subtlety goes a long way.

In fairness, some of us got old quicker than we wanted. Now the refined manner of Martin Tyler is far more suitable than a pickled Brit plundering the English language after every throw-in.

Phil Schoen used to be the foil for Ray’s linguistic butcheries but he seems to have caught the overzealous bug too of late. No one would deny that Schoen and Hudson have a feel for the beautiful game, but their lack of restraint has turned an El Clasico into El Bombastico:

Hudson has a loyal following in the States as does Gus Johnson and Dickie V. But at the risk of killing joy, if you’re over 23 and really feel that someone yelling at you nonstop during a sporting contest adds something to the experience, well maybe you’re the reason TMZ and World Star Hip-Hop have supplanted bona fide news outlets.

We know there’s no stopping the digital revolution, but it’s prominence doesn’t mean everything needs to be sensationalized.

In the end, Hudson is simply over-the-top and nowhere near as insidious as the Kardashians and their ilk. He would benefit from a pint less hyperbole, perhaps his wit would even shine through in that case.

And sorry Ray, cut out the “magisterial” business, portmanteaus are hard to pull off.

You may say I’m a dreamer. But to borrow further from John Lennon: “…I’m not the only one…”

Originally posted on StackStreet.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s