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ESPN picks Brit for World Cup

Face it, America:

We have a weird cultural trait when it comes to televised soccer. Hearing a British accent calling a game makes it sound more important, and more authoritative.

Well, OK, maybe it's just me, as a casual fan of the sport. But I know I'm not alone.

There's good news for those of us who feel this way, because the highly respected British announcer Martin Tyler will be the lead play-by-play man for ESPN's coverage off the 2010 World Cup - four years after American Dave O'Brien was roundly panned for his performance in that role.

Hmm. Was ESPN specifically looking for a Brit this time?

"When we got done internally nobody said, 'Do you know we've got, like, four British guys?'" ESPN executive VP John Skipper said. "We didn't even notice it."

"We sort of look at the totality and we've got South Africans, Europeans, Americans in the whole mix with play-by-play and reporters and hosts. I don't think Americans are reluctant to listen to American voices.

"It just was sort of step by step, OK, here's the No. 1 guy and it came out that way. I don't think it's a rejection of American voices."

Said Tommy Smyth, who is Irish and will serve as the lead analyst for the World Cup on ESPN Radio:

"I guess there are so many kids growing up in this country who hear British, English, Irish announcers and they've just become accustomed to it. I think it's a case of feeling, 'Oh, OK, everything is good now.'

"And I think one of the things that always fascinates Americans is accents . . . I think it's just something they get a kick out of it. I don't think it's necessarily something they see as better. I think it's just a case that they're happy with it."

New York Sports