Unprofessional Foul


January 21, 2011

Cantankerous Notes on YouTube Soccer Videos.

Gripe! Grumble!

YouTube is a glorious place sometimes.

If you can swerve and shimmy your way past the endless reels of poorly-shot vlogs, rants about something-or-other, and even all the goofy viral vids involving arachnid-averse weathermen or news anchors possessed with sublime skills of the Freudian Slip—though let’s be honest, those videos are great—you’ll dive headlong into a subterranean world of soccer highlight videos, all lovingly compiled by fans for our viewing pleasure.

They can be a treat, or they can be a torment. They can amplify the footy experience with their whimsy, or they can bludgeon you to death with an mish-mash of bad sounds, grainy video, and sadness.

To wit, we’ll begin with one of the better homemade efforts by a guy who clearly loves the slow-mo functions on Final Cut Pro:

Bursting with poetry and rich with evocative, slooooowed down snapshots of the 2008/09 season, this fella Hyperio2 does a rather good job of elevating the possibly mundane highlight with a bit more whimsy and editorial style. Ooh, look at the flags being flown high at Old Trafford, or Phil Brown’s please-don’t-fire-me wince. Hey, is that Big Phil Scolari? I remember him once.

When footage of actual goals and such begin—we do need that nice preamble of funny-looking fans that convey the passion and soul of this mercilessly sanitized sport—they’re all artsy and not just a vid capture of some shaky handicam footage culled by someone sitting and recording his TV screen and using the DVR. I think I experienced mild vertigo when trying to follow Tuncay’s long-range shot at 1:07 thanks to some nifty editing. That said, goals like Paul Scharner’s “HUH?!” outside-foot volley are left alone, presumably because no amount of visual trickery could possibly enhance such a bananas goal to begin with. The same is true when Paul Konchesky larrups one in around 3:30; we get to track that perfectly struck ball from start to finish while the scene seems to collapse in on itself like so many Hitchcock shots.

It’s obvious at this point that I quite enjoyed this video, simply because it’s a nice diversion from the rote cut-and-paste mercilessness of anything done by the BBC on Match of the Day.

Their approach is much simpler and direct: quick graphic, a couple of angles of the goal before moving on, all of it set to some British rock-music-of-the-month that’ll have the lager-full masses headbanging in their living rooms.

But we’re still interested in the fan vid, so many of which fail to please me like they should.

A lot of that is down to the fact that it’s not always easy to get high-quality base footage to use as the foundation for any tape, but the editing choices aren’t helped by the use of some godawful, temple-bashing techno music. Soccer isn’t a crowded nightclub, but we feel like we’re beaten kicked to death like a bass drum while trying to find a good example of a player’s oeuvre.

Like this compilation about Kaka.

At least I think it is, based on the number of times his name is plastered on screen:

I can seriously make it about 24 seconds before muting it, lest some Euro technopop suddenly stalk me and become the soundtrack to my nightmares. At least the videos themselves are clear enough, though occasionally, I’m watching game footage so blurry that I wonder if someone’s stretched saran wrap across my face and then smeared the transparent film in butter. But really, it’s all back to that soundtrack.

Moving to a player from a decade ago, a lovely collection of goals and gusto from Eric Cantona, but paired with Metallica. The two have about as much congruence as tuna fish and cheesecake. Then again, I’m sure someone out there enjoys the pairing, washing it down with a gallon of Mountain Dew: Code Red for good measure.

The goals are wonderful, but I can’t stop jumping around the room to notice much. James Hetfield was great back then, wasn’t he?

Finally, I’ll try a Lionel Messi vid.

Not bad. Yes, it’s still a bit bizarre to hear Eddie Vedder’s baritone warble accompany Messi’s silky skills, but the urgent tempo of one of Pearl Jam’s more frenetic songs does fit somewhat with the blistering pace of Lio, not to mention the rapidity of those Barcelona counter-attacks. I’ll call this a push.

Overall, I’m admittedly a grump about these videos. Lovingly crafted as they are, the art is a little lacking, but then again, it’s YouTube. I’m just glad the videos are right side up. Though I wouldn’t recommend that every highlight video by like the first clip up top, all languid and methodical and imbued with a sense of storytelling, it’s a bit closer to whatever I’d consider the Platonic ideal to be. (Especially that crescendo in music and highlights from about 7:20 to 8:25 chopping sharply into Robinho’s goal around 8:27, timed neatly with the bass solo, because really, a bass solo sounds about right for Robinho)

So, folks with far more skill than I to edit video who are being vaguely criticized by a guy who doesn’t have the first idea of where to begin, consider your loving paeans to your soccer heroes a bit more before you upload. Don’t just grab a Sky Sports clip and shove the Prodigy down its throat, and certainly don’t slap the most face-melting speed metal atop some Ronaldinho pirouette and expect me not to scowl fiercely on my couch. You don’t need to be some fragile auteur like Darren Aronovsky, but you can also shy away from being Michael Bay, Brett Ratner, or the irksomely-monikered “McG.”

Give it a little art the same way those fellas on the pitch do. It helps us all remember the glory of soccer a little more clearly, and with just the right amount (read: none) of techno.

About the Author

James T


  1. Rule of thumb: All sports highlights on YouTube should be viewed on mute unless otherwise instructed.

  2. Nice rant. Two things I’m sick of seeing/hearing on YouTube footy vids:

    1. After a certain number of slo-mo replays, even the greatest goal ever begins to get annoying. I’d put that number somewhere around six.

    2. The “Remember my Name” song that’s on a lot of player highlight vids. I know some vids really do show players with 10% luck, 20% skill, and 15% concentrated power of will, but songs that describe things accurately don’t necessarily make a good soundtrack. Especially when that same soundtrack is already on every other video.

  3. Precious Roy

    This makes me think of commercials using wholly inappropriate songs to sell their products. “Lust for Life” (heroin) was big for a while. And I think both Pontiac and Nike used Buffalo Tom’s ‘Sodajerk’ (masturbation) to sell cars and shoes respectively.

  4. MP

    One of you guys said this on Twitter this morning, but it bears repeating: anyone who puts together a montage of still images and calls it a “highlight video” should be killed. Nothing worse than clicking on one of those…

  5. Orr

    I really much prefer to hear the announcers, it contributes to my enjoyment of the highlights far better than any music could

  6. @MP: only thing worse is if they ask you to go to another website to watch the full video. I hate those fuckers.

  7. three comments:
    1) Watching the first vid, I was amazed at how easily Greeno was caught either out of position or indecisive on the goals he was showed allowing, and thus even more perplexed by Ned’s rampant insistence that Green was the better choice than Hart for WC 2010.
    2) I would like to recut that Cantona video with some Django Reinhardt, which would better capture the insouciance of King Eric’s game.
    3) Fuel? Really? That wasn’t even thebest Metallica song they could have chosen.

  8. Ryan

    Speaking of Youtube, I saw someone link to this one the other day. NYK is sure to love it.

  9. Steve

    All I could think watching the first few goals of that MOTD video was, “Well, there’s the reason Crystal Palace and Charlton don’t play in the EPL.”

    Also, not sure there could be a worse song to match Cantona to.

  10. I usually watch everything with mute on by default, as previously suggested by TFA. I also hate the photo montages (MP) and redirects (TFA). But what really, really pisses me off is autoplay videos. Hey, jackass, you don’t get to decide whether you get to use my bandwidth or not – that’s my decision. Granted, it’s not a big amount of bandwidth that affects my other browsing, but it’s the principle of the matter. I’m fiercely independent when it comes to who gets to tell me what to do (that’s why I’ll never have an iPhone, on top of being too cheap to pay for one anyway), and I’ll be damned if some punk webmaster somewhere gets to tell me “You will run this video without your say-so”.

    Also, those little comment boxes that popup on youtube. I’m trying to watch a video, not be bombarded with URLs to other sites or people begging me to subscribe to their videos.

  11. @Keith: in regards to number 1, i suggest you look at where Robert Green has played in his career. that might help explain Ned’s undying love.

  12. Precious Roy

    TFA: Ipswich?

  13. @PR: is today opposite day? if so, then you are spot on.

  14. BG

    One thing that bugs me a lot is the 10 minute match recap (especially if the score was 1-0 or something). That’s fine for TV maybe, but I’m on my computer, probably at work, so just give me 30 seconds for each goal and end it.

  15. Precious Roy

    Just a larger point: Look at the record sales for like Creed or Justin Beiber. Most people have horribly crappy taste in music. It’s not like they are going to suddenly develop good taste to offset their below-average editing skills when putting together a vid.

  16. ebullientfatalist

    I’d like to see a highlight vid with “Ruby Soho” or “The Waiting Room” as background music.

  17. Dear JT: “Fuel” does not constitute “back then” for Metallica. Now get off my lawn.

  18. Pete

    Ah yes. I remember when NYK introduced me to Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All Album. Good times. Now that is old school.

    I feel old now.

  19. Lennon's Eyebrow

    Maybe you people should quit your fucking bitching and moaning and just be thankful you live in a time where you can watch highlight reels from almost any game and of players who were dead long before you were even born.
    Oh, what’s that you say, you have to listen to Metallica during the video? Life is so hard.

  20. OK, now after the mention of Metallica and a beverage, I feel compelled to link (my name) to this instrumental from Master of Puppets, Orion.

  21. TrentonPorkRollUnion

    It’s the music that really bothers me with highlights of anyone on the Tube. As mentioned, always watch with mute off. But then, game commentary pisses me off. It should just be crowd noise. In highlight reels, crowd noise. During the game, just crowd noise

  22. Tno

    I want to kill EVERYTHING when I hear this song.
    FUCK YOU 009 SOUNDSYSTEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. James T

    I’m certainly thankful I live in a time where I can read your comments.

  24. Lennon's Eyebrow

    Aren’t we all?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>