The USA needs a gimmick. No, not the national team itself. They have trademarked American Grit, allowing them to get scrappy wins and play above their nominal talent level. But no, ESPN is the king of gimmicks, and yet they’ve tried to market the World Cup with things like British announcers, top-tier studio talent, and a concerted effort to try and do right by soccer fans around the world.
But, in Germany, there is a new sensation. No, not Mesut Özil or Thomas Müller. Its Paul the Octopus, AKA Pulpo Paul or Paul Oktopus.
If anyone doesn’t know about Paul, he’s an octopus that picks games of the German National Team. His handlers put two bowls of food in his tank, one with Germany’s flag and one with the flag of the other team; whichever bowl he choses, that team is supposed to win. American sports are built on gimicks: there are rally monkeys, thunder sticks, giveaways, and all of NASCAR. To keep up, ESPN needs a gimmick that can capture the hearts and minds of the common sports fan in America. With that in mind, I’ve come up with a couple of gimmicks that I am sure will catapult the USMNT in the center of the US sporting world.
We all now know that Ian Darke is far better than Martin Tyler. Tyler’s understated style, overall, is not a good fit for the US public. Combine that with the fact that he wasn’t really as good as billed has led to an underwhelming performance. Ian Darke, on the other hand, has been great. His highlight, of course, was his call for Landon Donovan’s goal in the USA-Algeria game
. To build off of that, ESPN should hire him full time and start a line of “This Is Sportscenter,” commercials, in the style of Donovan
commercials before the World Cup. Darke commentating on someone’s attempt to pick up a girl in a bar would also be hilarious.
Vuvuzela Hero: Everyone’s most hated plastic horn has not nearly been overexposed enough. ESPN needs to get the creators of the Fifa World Cup games and Rock Band to combine their talents to create a new game: Vuvuzela Hero. One player will control his side as the other plays the new vuvuzela accessory to try and get their team bonus power-ups and weaken the morale of the opponent. But if the Vuvuzela player isn’t enthusiastic, their team will weaken due to lack of support from their fans. (Note: Vuvuzela accessory is 4 times as powerful when playing against France.)
Any suggestions for other gimmicks you would like to see?
All predictions wrong or your money back.