My regular readers know that I have been writing a lot about cricket and The Great War as of late. Well, it turns out I had a great-great-uncle that was killed in action in France during World War One. Albert Zwiefelhoefer, my great-grandmother’s brother, who was fighting as an American (don’t let the name fool ya) was killed on the 5th of November, 1918 (six days before the Armistice) during the Meuse Offensive.
He is buried at Meuse Argonne American Cemetery near the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon in northwestern France. As far as I can ascertain, no family member has ever visited his grave.
I mention this here primarily because I do have a lot of international readers, and if any of you ever make it to France, and happen to visit what looks to be the most charming village ever, I would be overcome with gratitude if you could head a few miles east and take a picture of his grave.
And, goodness, six days before the Armistice. That’s just simple rotten luck. The opposite of serendipity.
I was going to bring this all back home and talk about the cricketers killed shortly before or after 11/11/18, or those also killed during the Meuse offensive, but there are simply just too many to go into.
Such a sad and tragic and awful war – a war that changed cricket, county cricket especially, forever.
Over on Twitter I follow a fella named Jamie Harrison, the president of the United States Youth Cricket Association, and a huge Baltimore Ravens fan.
For those unaware, the Ravens won the Super Bowl last weekend.
I did not watch the game. I don’t care for gridiron football, and I find the way Americans salivate over the advertisements a bit nauseating, but that’s only my opinion.
Watching Jamie’s reaction though via his Tweets has been a lot of fun however. He has been a fan of Baltimore’s football team his entire life, had his heart broken when the Colts left in the 80s, lived through a decade without a team at all, and now has been rewarded with a second Championship.
Sport in the end is trivial, we all know that, but when our team wins, it is something special, something to savor, something not to take for granted. And Jamie understood that it was special, and took full advantage of it. Nothing unites a populace like sport, except maybe for weather – and when a championship is involved, that is the zenith of community.
Thanks, Jamie, for letting me live vicariously through you.
In more non-cricket news, Fox Soccer has decided to groom announcer Gus Johnson to be there go-to soccer announcer, as they prepare to cover the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. And despite the fact that he admits that he knows nothing about soccer, they are not starting him off slowly, they throwing right into the mix and are going to let him call Champions League games and the FA Cup final.
My initial reaction to this news was shock, anger, and disappointment.
But after a lot of whinging, I decided to really think about why I reacted in such a manner.
Was it because Mr. Johnson knew nothing of the sport? Was it because he is American and not British? Or is it because I simply do not care for Gus Johnson as an announcer? (I was more or less quite unfamiliar with him but throughout this process I watched clips of calls during basketball and football games).
I decided it was not the first two, by relating the situation to cricket.
If Willow TV decided it was going to have, say, Bob Costas, call cricket matches, I would be totally okay with that, despite the fact that he is an American and despite the fact that he (probably) knows nothing about cricket. He is a professional and a good announcer and would give the games the respect that deserve.
Gus Johnson is not Bob Costas however. He is a shouting maniacal douchebag.
Football announcers need to let the games breath. Gus is going to choke the games to death.
If they hired an American announcer with great knowledge of the sport, I would be fine with the decision. If they hired an American announcer who knew nothing of the sport but had great announcing chops, I would be fine with that too.
But they did not. They hired a loudmouth egomaniac who makes the games he calls more about him and less about what is going on on the field.
And it’s a shame.
Finally, a note to media regarding the match fixing scandal in football: stop acting like you are shocked. Gambling is big business, and sports gambling is the biggest business of them all. It is not a football problem, it is not even a sports problem, it is a societal problem.
I am not sure what the solution here is. But changing the fact that gambling is so accepted a vice in our modern world is the first step.
And with that in mind, I challenge the ICC to ban all gambling related advertisements and sponsorships. Until they do that, they are just as much a part of the problem as those that are fixing matches and buying off players.