Soccer Fans With Heart Conditions Offered Special Game Broadcasts

Nov 23, 2018
Originally published on November 23, 2018 6:29 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This weekend, two major South American soccer teams play a high-stakes game. One is called Boca, and the other is River Plate. The game has stirred such intense passion that doctors worry about fans with heart trouble. Some cardiologists are offering an alternative broadcast for fans who just can't handle the drama. NPR's Jasmine Garsd reports.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: A few years ago, this video went viral - a middle-aged man from Argentina sitting in his living room, chain-smoking and watching his favorite soccer team lose a championship. He's having a complete meltdown. One of his children filmed it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #1: (Yelling in Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Yelling) No, no, no.

GARSD: At some point, his daughter brings him anxiety medication and a glass of water. He shoos her off and keeps screaming and kicking furniture.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Yelling) No, no.

GARSD: This Saturday, there's likely going to be some more of this. A major South American soccer championship is heading to a grand finale. It will feature two historic Argentine foes - Boca, one of the most popular soccer teams in the world, will be squaring off against River Plate, another major team. When these two teams face off, it's called el Superclasico, the super classic. People around Latin America will be watching, and some in the medical community are worried.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #2: (Yelling in Spanish).

GARSD: This is what a typical soccer commentary sounds like - frantic narrators dribbling words against the oceanic backdrop of screaming fans and then the climactic release of a goal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #3: (Yelling in Spanish).

GARSD: If your face isn't turning purple, you aren't saying it right. But recently, the Argentine Cardiology Association has been teaming up with a major radio station, Radio Colonia, to offer a special broadcast for fans with heart conditions. It features zen background music, advice from a cardiologist and very calm narrators who kind of whisper at the goals.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #4: (Whispering in Spanish).

GARSD: Leo Uranga is one of the commentators.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LEO URANGA: (Whispering in Spanish).

GARSD: In this clip, he reassures fans. "It's a tie. See? And you thought it was going to be a bad day."

URANGA: (Speaking Spanish).

GARSD: Uranga says at first he wasn't even sure he could chill out this much. His commentary is generally histrionic. He had to practice lowering his voice, talking slower. One cardiologist advised that he'd go for a walk and drink a lot of water before going on the air.

URANGA: (Speaking Spanish).

GARSD: He says Saturday's game will be a little harder for him. It's the end of a championship. He has to tone himself down even though there will be hurt feelings. But whether you say...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #3: (Yelling in Spanish).

GARSD: ...Or simply whisper...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #4: (Whispering in Spanish).

GARSD: ...The love of the game is still strong. Jasmine Garsd, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.