Soccer is the beautiful game and the most popular sport in the world. We know you like it because you’re reading about it right now. But there’s one thing missing from soccer that is ever present in most team sports: a clock counting down to the end of a match.
With a few exceptions, in most versions of soccer on TV (or streaming device because c’mon), the game clock starts at 0 and goes to 90:00 with a stop at 45:00 for halftime and a few minutes of stoppage time. It’s an upward trajectory that is completely fine for those familiar with the game and how long a match lasts, but does little to really ratchet up the intensity in the way of a countdown clock.
When Bruce Willis is trying to diffuse a bomb, the clock isn’t ticking up to an arbitrary number, it’s counting down to zero. Basketball and American football both play until the clock strikes zero — soccer does not.
Perhaps it is with this in mind that Fox Sports, which may or may not give a sh*t about soccer, has decided to add a sort of virtual timer to its Bundesliga coverage.
Maybe you haven’t noticed it, but under the game clock (which counts up) is a gray bar that fills to red as the half goes on. It’s subtle, adds nothing to the match, but I absolutely love it.
Here it is at the start of a match with the bar entirely gray.
As the match goes on, the gray bar fills with red to display how much time is left. Near the midway point of the half, the bar is half gray and half red.
By the end of the half it’s all red. Most dramatically, when the match moves into stoppage time, the entire clock turns red. That’s how you know the action is heating up because red is hot. Or something.
When the second half begins, it’s back to a full gray bar and we start the process all over again.
When the match nears its conclusion — made more dramatic by this linear hourglass — the red slowly overtakes the gray and you know something is about to pop off. Then BAM! the timer turns the clock turns all red and you’re in stoppage time and who knows what will happen because this little timer just exploded, spraying its red guts all over the game clock.
It’s a brilliant piece of design and I promise from now on you will never be able to not notice it.
What’s particularly interesting is that this is only done by Fox Sports for Bundesliga matches. For Champions League and international matches, Fox Sports uses no such timer.
Even Bundesliga matches not broadcast by Fox Sports do not feature the gray-to-red bar that is the highlight of Fox Sports’ soccer broadcasting abilities.
Fox will broadcast the World Cup in the U.S. for the first time next summer and we better see this timer during matches. Otherwise, how will we know how much time is left?