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Spanish Language Football? No Problem

Randy Snow
Wednesday May 18, 2016

When I saw that the Cleveland Gladiators were playing a home game on Monday night (May 16) against the Portland Steel, I assumed I would be able to watch it on TV somewhere. After all, every Arena Football League game can be found on ESPN3 and CBS SportsNet also broadcasts many games throughout the season. I have watched many games on ESPN3, sometimes on my laptop and sometimes I stream the game to my HD TV via a Google Chrome device, so I was prepared to do that again with this game.

However, thing turned out a little bit different this time. I discovered the game on a channel that I have never watched before. I have Dish Network and found the game on Univision Deportes, Channel 869, a Spanish language station. Normally, I don’t go past the low 400s when looking to shows to watch on my satellite system. The guide said Futbol Americano Arena and it was being broadcast in HD. I had heard that Arena games were being broadcast in Spanish, but I never really considered checking out a game on a non-English speaking channel, until the Gladiators were the one’s playing.

Even though I do not speak Spanish, I enjoyed the broadcast very much. I did not have to understand what the announcers were saying in order to follow what was going on. (I have occasionally been known to watch a little Sabado Gigante over the years on a Saturday night.)

Player names and phrases like “One-Minute Warning” and “Quicken Loans Arena” were spoken in English by the announcers, so following the action on the field was not as difficult as I thought it would be. You could also hear the referee in the background explaining the penalties in English.

The announcers were extremely animated in their descriptions of the action on the field and even though I did not understand what they were saying most of the time, it was still an enjoyable experience watching the game.

In the end, Portland scored a touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter to tie the game 48-48. The Steel were flagged for excessive celebration when a player took off his helmet on the field, causing the extra point try to be moved back to near mid-field. As a result, the kick was wide left and the game went into overtime.

In overtime, Portland kicked off and several plays later, Cleveland found the end zone to take a 55-48 lead. On Portland’s possession, the Steel worked their way steadily down the field but Steel quarterback Shane Austin was intercepted in the end zone, ending the game with about 4:25 remaining in the overtime period. Austin was the Gladiators quarterback the past few seasons and led the team to an appearance in ArenaBowl XXVII in 2014.

All in all, I enjoyed the broadcast on Univision Desportes and I would not hesitate to watch another game on the Spanish language channel.

Randy Snow covered the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League for ArenaFan from 2003-2008. He also covered the Fort Wayne Fusion of arenafootball2 in 2007. From 2004-2008 and in 2010, he was a member of the Arena Football League Writer’s Association and, since 2011, has been a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association. Randy lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan but will travel just about anywhere for a football game or a great football story. He runs the web site and hosts a podcast with his son, Adam, called “This Week in The World of Football.”
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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