By Lee Alan Hill
Special to TelevisionWeek
Soccer is hugely popular around the globe, but only in recent years has it begun to attract significant attention as a spectator sport in the United States. Today, thanks to the influx of immigrants from countries where the sport is king and its increased popularity among suburban youth, soccer is one of the fastest-growing activities in America.
This week the television voice of soccer for millions of viewers, Andrés Cantor, will be honored by NATAS.
“He’s the pinnacle of sports in Spanish-language television,” said NATAS President Peter Price. “It’s tough to be that successful for that long in any sport. He’s helped build soccer in its popularity.”
Mr. Cantor, who is known for his enthusiastic and animated cry of “Goooal!” when a team scores, is the soccer anchor for Telemundo. He is also heard on “Fútbol de Primera” radio broadcasts syndicated on more than 40 stations. He was the soccer commentator for NBC during the last two Olympic Games and has hosted reality shows for Telemundo. In addition, he has been a spokesman for various commercial sponsors, including Pepsi and Snickers candy bars. His face has become known to non-Spanish speakers through appearances on “The Late Show With David Letterman.”
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the television academy, of course,” Mr. Cantor said. “It’s been a great 18 years on the air. But I must also admit I got a little scared when they told me about the award,” he said. “Scared because I thought they gave this sort of thing when a person was nearing the end of a career. I don’t feel I am even halfway done.”
Born in Argentina, Mr. Cantor moved with his family to San Marino, Calif., a tony suburb of Los Angeles, when he was 13. He brought with him a love of playing soccer and the fond memory of the broadcasters who described the game in his native tongue. He freely admitted that the “Goooal!” that has become his trademark call is inspired by those he heard call the game when he was a boy.
Mr. Cantor played soccer for the University of Southern California, but he realized that his skills lent themselves more to covering the sport for publications rather than to being on the field. He began his TV career broadcasting games in 1987.
He received a Sports Emmy in 1994 for his coverage of the World Cup soccer games. It’s one of myriad awards for Mr. Cantor, who was named sports personality of the year in 1994 by the American Sportscasters Association.
Mr. Cantor has also helped to popularize the sport with his writing, beginning with a 1996 best-selling book, “Goooal! A Celebration of Soccer.”
“There’s a greater interest in soccer now than then. It’s the fastest-growing sport in the country,” said Mr. Cantor, who lives in the Miami area with his family. “Soccer does not have to be in competition with any other sport. It only needs to thrive on its own, and it’s doing that.”
Title: Sports announcer, Telemundo
How long in current position: With Telemundo since April 2000
Year of birth: 1962
Place of birth: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Who knew? Through a deal with Proteus, subscribers can download Mr. Cantor’s trademark “Goooal!” call as a cellphone ring tone.