Mac Engel

Mavs fans should recognize one voice calling World Cup matches this summer

Dallas Mavericks TV voice Mark Followill (right), here pictured with 105.3 The Fan radio show Jeff "Skin" Wade (left), will call World Cup games for Fox. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis)
Dallas Mavericks TV voice Mark Followill (right), here pictured with 105.3 The Fan radio show Jeff "Skin" Wade (left), will call World Cup games for Fox. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis) Star-Telegram

The World Cup began this morning in Russia and, you may have heard, the U.S. didn't quite qualify for the biggest soccer tournament in the world.

That's money well spent.

Nonetheless, one local guy did make it to the World Cup and you should recognize his voice calling WC matches on Fox Sports.

The TV voice of the Dallas Mavericks, who still looks like he's 21, landed a precious spot as one of the play-by-play voices to call World Cup matches. Mr. Mark Followill is scheduled to call nine matches, beginning with Egypt versus Uruguay on June 15, for Fox.

A guy who broke in with Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket more than two decades ago has slowly, steadily, worked his way up into the higher tiers of sports broadcasting. For those of us who remember Followill on The Ticket, long before he became a regular on Mavs' broadcasts, this existence was always the dream.

"Doing a talk (show) was never truly something I was passionate about," Followill told me. "They both take unique abilities and my abilities are far better suited to play-by-play than the latter. I'm not afraid to say that if I had tried to make a living as a talk show host, I would be doing something else entirely different by now. Not to mention, a great piece of advice I got once from (former Ticket boss) Bruce Gilbert was, 'To reach your potential in this business, focus on the one thing your passion or interest is and pour your energies into that.'"

Done, and well done.

Sports fans who consume the games on TV likely don't know/care the lengths broadcasters go to land these types of jobs. Landing a job calling big-time sporting events is nearly as competitive as landing a job playing in the events.

Followill is not some soccer novice entering this WC. He's a fan of the game. He knows the teams, the countries, etc. American TV voices who call soccer tend to love soccer.

He approached Fox producers and executives about calling soccer more than five years ago and has been a regular calling FC Dallas games in the Mavs' off-season.

Followill was the play-by-play man sitting next to former U.S. men's national team defender Alexei Lalas last year as he went into his now viral rant ripping the USMNT, when it was in the process of failing to qualify for this World Cup.

"I was certainly aware he was going to talk about it," said Followill, who will be calling games from a production studio in L.A., which is something more broadcast teams do now as media outlets try to manage, i.e. reduce, expenses.

"To be honest, I was just trying to stay out of the way as much as possible. It was about me setting him up; he ended up being right to some to degree because they didn't qualify."

Most of us in the lame stream media are predicting the lack of the USMNT in the WC will drive interest, and ratings, straight into the bottom of a Nielsen's ratings toilet. Followill isn't one of those, nor is he predicting doom for the ratings of the tournament.

"I really don't think there will be that big of an impact in how people consume it," he said. "Those who do recognize the best players in the world and the beauty and rarity of the event."

Followill, obviously, wanted the U.S. to make it, and admitted he stared blankly at his TV when the team was eliminated with a loss to Trinidad and Tobago last October.

The USMNT failed to make the World Cup, but Followill did, which is a feat worth celebrating.

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