Men in Blazers hosts Roger Bennett and Michael Davies believe soccer is the American sport of the future and tonight they’ll be on Broadway — at Town Hall in New York City — to talk about why.
(Tickets available here.) Regular contributors to Grantland.com (see their World Cup previews here), the duo will be featured throughout ESPN’s month-long FIFA World Cup coverage in Brazil, June 12 – July 13.
Front Row caught up with Bennett to chat about tonight’s live show, MiB’s World Cup plans and the “Inside: US Soccer’s March to Brazil” series that Bennett is co-producing with Jon Hock.
How did you come up with the idea of a live show in Times Square?
Our listeners, “Great Friends of the Pod,” have many things in common: their passion for soccer and their taste in sub-optimal football broadcasting. Men in Blazers exists exactly where those two obsessions intertwine and over the past couple of years, we have savored the opportunity to bring our listeners together so we can unashamedly relish in all things football. We have honored National Treasure [ESPN studio host] Bob Ley with the award of the first Golden Blazer. We have feted [ESPN soccer analyst] Alexi Lalas and had him play hits from his 1990’s lost LP, “Ginger.” And we have learned at the knee from Leyton Orient owner Barry Hearn. A Londoner who Americans feel is like a Guy Ritchie character come to life.
ESPN will be keeping you and Michael busy in Brazil for the World Cup. Talk about what you will be doing.
Technically, we will be immersing ourselves in the narrative of the tournament, and savoring it with our listeners, broadcasting daily previews and nightly recaps (like this) on ESPN, immersing ourselves in the more arcane corners of Brazil’s football culture, and podcasting it up. But, simply put, our real plan is to watch the United States win their first World Cup.
You are also producing the new ESPN Films series Inside: US Soccer’s March to Brazil along with Jon Hock. Episode 4 premieres Tuesday (June 3, 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN). Do you think the series is helping soccer fans get to know the team and coaches better?
I am typing this in the cutting room at 2 a.m. so I very much hope that is the case. Making this series is the fulfillment of a long-held dream I have had to work on a project that connects American sports fans with the remarkable gents who come together to represent our nation against all-comers at the World Cup. The feedback we have had has been a wonder to receive for all of us who are honored to be working on this series.
I hope the stories we are telling play a small part in bonding Americans to the U.S. team at the World Cup and beyond. I admire the team’s work and values immensely — in both football and in life. As Michael Bradley declared in Episode 2: “Teams that are ready to suffer are going to do well. And we want to be the team that can suffer the most.”