I consider myself a bit of connoisseur of watching the Colorado Rapids on television. Despite living in Denver, I usually have to watch both home and away games from the comfort of my living room. This is due primarily to my three year old daughter. While it would be great if I could take her to all of the home games and teach her how to heckle the opposition's left back, we're not there quite yet. Maybe when she turns four.
Watching games from home has its obvious pros and cons. While I'm pretty much always comfortable and within a short walk to the kitchen, I have to suffer through what is often lackluster coverage provided by Altitude Sports. Last season, my primary gripe was the announcers - Todd Romero and Marcelo Balboa. Romero bothered me because his background is not soccer and he seemed to lack the basic understanding of the game required in order to be a good play by play man. Balboa annoyed me because I thought his insights as an analyst were, on the whole, useless. Frankly, I also can't stand his voice or delivery.
So I was intrigued when it was recently revealed by Chris Bianchi on twitter that the Rapids have hired Richard Fleming to be the new play by play man for Altitude's broadcasts.
Multiple sources confirm #Rapids will announce hiring of Arsenal employee Richard Fleming as the team's new play by play voice.— Chris Bianchi (@Rapids_News) March 5, 2013
Fleming is British and has worked previously for Arsenal TV. Another key fact is that the Rapids will apparently be picking up the tab for Fleming, rather than Altitude.
After thinking it over a bit, I'm cautiously optimistic by the hire. His work with Arsenal TV gives him a far better pedigree then Romero, and maybe he will be able to help Balboa improve his "analysis". On the flip side, are we falling victim to the "English Inferiority Complex" that tends to permeate American soccer? I hate to feel like we are feeding the perception that the only acceptable way to call a game is with an English accent. Also, do we need to be concerned that the Rapids are paying Fleming's salary? Romero and Balboa were already guilty of being incredibly biased in favor of the Rapids, which I feel weakens the broadcast. Will Fleming feel free to be critical of the Rapids (front office included) during broadcasts, or will there be an unwritten directive to toe the company line?
Time will tell how this will work out. Fleming is scheduled to call the March 16th game against Real Salt Lake.