When I first started watching soccer, football for the rest of the world, I had no clue about the rules or the nuances of the game. I started out catching BBC America’s weekly recap/preview show and eventually started watching full English Premier League matches on what’s now the Fox Soccer Channel. The thing I liked most about the match commentators is that they didn’t feel a need to talk down to their audience. They would show the offsides, with a yellow line on the field, and sometimes give you a “obviously offsides”, or “close call” type comment but they just assumed that if you were watching you understood. The same with penalties, the most you’d usually get was something like “obvious penalty but I’m not sure it warrants a card” and it was left up to the viewer to decide what the actual infraction was.
As I said, I knew nothing about the rules of the game so you’d think that this kind of coverage would have been frustrating but in reality it allowed me to learn the subtlties of the game much faster. I had to watch what was happening, think about what the commentator said and try and relate the two to figure out what was going on. This kept me much more engaged in the match and I started to see plays developing. As a result I now find soccer much more entertaining than, say, American football.
This weekend I found myself experiencing that same engagement watching people play a video game that I have very little interest in actually playing myself, EvE Online. This weekend, and again next weekend, CCP is running a series of in-game PvP matches and they’re streaming live coverage of them over the web via a service they’re calling EveTV.