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ESPN invents new, unholy German Franken-club. You should stay away from ESPN. August 17, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in German soccer, War on ESPN.

Funny thing about "Bayern Leverkusen" is it doesn't exist.

By now, my hatred for ESPN Soccernet is well-documented. The fact that many of their native articles are bottom-of-the-barrel (with exceptions for some of their World Cup coverage, as well as the work of Phil Ball and Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger), often containing falsehoods, is insufficient. Plenty of well-funded sites have very poor articles indeed.

But Soccernet must either have bad copy editors or no copy editors. At least half the stories I’ve read on ESPN contain at least one glaring grammar error. Here, I write about one article that contained seven dangling modifiers (I now realize the last one is not a dangling modifier). The soundess of an organization that hires a writer who seemingly doesn’t understand the concept of the dangling modifier is troubling enough, but not having a copy flow that catches such an incredibly basic error is pretty egregious.

When ESPN’s not kicking sand in grammar’s face as it shambles along, it’s often making blatant and embarrassing factual or spelling errors like the one above.

Today, I saw one such error that made me quite angry. It was a link to an interview with Michael Ballack that said he’d moved to “Bayern Leverkusen.” He has actually moved to Bayer Leverkusen, a club sponsored by aspirin-maker Bayer, but the writer of the summary appears to have gotten that club confused with Bayern Munich, whose name comes from the German word for Bavaria, a region that contains Munich, but not Leverkusen.

Whoever is writing the site’s display text is either too sloppy to proofread his or her work or simply not cognizant to the fact that “Bayern Leverkusen” does not exist.

I’ve made some grammar and factual errors on this blog, but this is a blog, where that’s to be expected, not that I don’t try my best. I’m not paid to do this. ESPN can’t point to any such justification. I don’t know if ESPN’s sections on other sports are so poorly edited because I don’t read them, so I can only speak to that part of soccer fans.

So to you, soccer fan: You’re a rational consumer and you have a choice. I’m not saying read this blog, although I’d like that, but there are plenty of soccer websites out there that care enough about their readers to hire people who’ll compose intelligent articles, and to make sure they’re properly edited. The Guardian is my favorite because I’ve been reading it for years, but if you’re an looking for something that takes a similar perspective to ESPN’s, Sports Illustrated’s soccer section is excellent.

SI’s used to be an afterthought, but when the World Cup came around, the magazine invested in hiring really excellent columnists: Jonathan Wilson, an absolute trailblazer in soccer writing, Sid Lowe, Tim Vickery, Marcela Mora y Araujo, Rob Smyth, Raphael Honigstein. They even poached ESPN’s US soccer staff.

ESPN: Improve. Now.



1. Ted - August 17, 2010

You might want to check your own work before you criticize others for spelling errors. “contain contain”? At least your word processor should have caught that, whereas Bayern wouldn’t.

I’m not an advocate for soccernet, but if you’re going to take shots at others for spelling mistakes, at least have your own house in order. Otherwise you risk coming off as a blowhardy dipshit. So congrats on that.

2. michaeltomlinson - August 18, 2010

The difference “Ted” is that they are paid, also writing “contain” twice isn’t as a bad as blatantly getting clubs names wrong. It is as bad as the Washington Nationals showing up AND wearing uniforms that read “Natinals” on them last year.

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