Please Stop Saying “Team Slovakia”

Pass, Shoot, ScoreI’ve long since resigned myself to the fact that U.S. Soccer announcers aren’t the high-end of global footy commentary, but after listening to the broadcast of this afternoon’s U.S.A – Slovakia Olympic hockey game, I was reminded of just how clueless the rest of our sports media is w/r/t coverage of international sports. That is, I didn’t realize just how little vocabulary our media has for the description of a game played by two countries. Allow me to nitpick:

(1) The announcers are so accustomed to broadcasting games featuring teams that fall within the typical naming conventions of North American sports (“The [Place/ University] [Nickname]s”) that they continuously stumble in the absence of the nickname, and fill the gap with “The [Name of Resident/ Citizen of Country In Question]s.” That is, since they can’t say “The Rangers,” they say “The Swedes.” What they mean to say is “Sweden.”
(2) Since we tend to refer to our Olympic teams as “Team U.S.A.” the announcers seem to think that other countries apply this naming convention as well. That is, the guys doing the radio broadcast of this afternoon’s hockey game (who were otherwise excellent – seriously, they were really good), kept referring to the U.S.’s opponent as “Team Slovakia.” I’m pretty sure that they don’t sell t-shirts in Bratislava that say “Team Slovakia.” Just a hunch.
(3) They refer to countries as a collective noun! No! NOOOOO!!!!!! The soccer way is so much cooler. That is, “Switzerland are playing well in this tournament,” not “Switzerland is playing well in this tournament.” This distinction is important. Very important.

Otherwise, I applaud all international sports competitions, specifically team sports, and I wish our athletes took their responsibilities to these competitions more seriously. I’ll shut up now.

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