WASHINGTON, April 26, 2011— Last week, Kyle Martino was handling analysis during FOX Soccer’s MLS Game of the Week between the Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids when a brutal tackle by Colorado’s Brian Mullen on Seattle’s dynamic midfielder Steve Zakuani fractured two bones in Zakuani’s leg.
Martio made a comment at the time that Mullan “is not a dirty player,” which caused him to get a lot of flak on the internet, Twiiter, and in the press.
“Lots of harsh Mullen comments is understandable 4 terrible tackle, but coming from people who don’t know him & didn’t see him balling after” said Martino on his Twitter account.
Martino, a former U.S. team player and Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year, addressed the uncomfortable role analysts find themselves in when the action hits too close to home in an article on FoxSoccer.com
See below for some excerpts from Martino’s column.
“For the first time in my short career as a commentator I had something happen that some people with 20-year careers may never experience: a horrific injury to a player during a game that you are calling. You can never practice what you will say or how you will react during that very moment, and I can say that I didn’t do a great job with my first experience. My reaction to the incident made me realize that, at certain moments, being objective as an analyst can be quite a challenge.”
“At that moment is when the player in me spoke in place of the analyst in me. I let a past experience affect my ability to call the play as I saw it. It’s kind of like when a hometown referee makes a few bad calls against the home team to make sure no one labels him as biased. After reflecting on that experience I realized that I was far too casual about the situation to overcompensate for how bad I felt while it was happening. I realized in that very moment how challenging it is in this profession to make sure your own past experiences in the sport do not proceed your commitment to unbiased opinion of play.”
“I think it is very important for an analyst to bring their experience of playing the game to the broadcasts. It is what differentiates us from others who know the game. When I listen to a game, I love to hear commentators who make insightful critiques based on years of experience. There is a fine line that they walk on every broadcast, however, and I lived that line on Friday night. Watching the video back, I can see now that Brian let his frustrations get the best of him and made a terrible decision when he engaged in such a reckless tackle. Regardless of my opinion of him as a guy, my job as an analyst is to call it as I see it. Personally, I think it is relevant to express my opinion that I don’t think that Mullan is dirty or malicious as a player, but the focus of my comments should have expressed the severity of his actions as well.”
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