VANCOUVER, BC – Jay DeMerit is used to being in the spotlight.
Four years ago, he was a starter for the U.S. men’s national team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup – the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world.
Prior to that, he helped lead Watford FC to the English Premier League – arguably the most popular top-flight soccer league.
At that level, the spotlight comes with the territory. It’s also part and parcel of DeMerit’s role as captain of Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
This week, the 'Caps centre back will be in the spotlight once again – just in a different capacity. While many of his teammates are using the week off to return home or soak in the sun at a tropical location, DeMerit is in Bristol, Connecticut, where he's working in-studio as a guest panelist with ESPN FC.
DeMerit's work with ESPN FC started on Monday (see video above) and will continue throughout the week. Once the World Cup begins on Thursday, he'll appear regularly on ESPN FC World Cup Encore.
The show, which will generally air for two hours on match days on ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNEWS, will feature condensed versions of the best action in the day’s World Cup matches with analysis from DeMerit and other ESPN FC pundits.
“Because I’m one of the few athletes available to do this type of thing who has World Cup experience, they thought it was a perfect fit to get my feet wet,” said DeMerit, adding that he’s expressed interest in working in TV after his playing days are over.
“Hopefully they don’t throw me in too deep right away,” he laughed, “but I’m looking forward to getting my feet wet and giving it a shot.”
Sitting on a TV panel is a “new challenge” for DeMerit, but not necessarily a foreign one altogether. He has analyzed games before on the radio or via satellite on TV, and of course, he stands in front of the cameras almost every day answering questions from the media.
“It does take getting used to but it’s something that I’ve grown accustomed to,” he said. “For me, it’s not hard to sit in front of any camera and talk about what I do or share my experiences. And I know that that’s what this show is about. Hopefully it will be a natural fit. I’m sure it will present its challenges like anything else but I’m looking forward to it.”
Although DeMerit has never held an analyst position, he learned a thing or two from his Vancouver-born wife Ashleigh McIvor. The 2010 Olympic gold medalist worked for CBC as a skicross analyst during the recent 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.
“She was great in her preparation,” said DeMerit, who picked host Brazil to win the World Cup. “I have to start doing a little bit more research, just to keep myself up with the teams and the players so I can actually bring something to the table as far as my analysis goes. I think that’s the last part of the learning curve for me.”
DeMerit was a quick learner at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, when he started all four matches and helped the U.S. win their group for the first time since 1930. And although he’d rather be out on the field in the thick of the battle again this year, he knows that “talking shop” with ESPN isn't a bad alternative.
“The World Cup is such as special occasion, especially in North America where it’s the one time every four years where people really zone in on our sport,” he said. “To be on the other end of it at one point and now to be on the analysis side of it, it’s something special. I understand that it’s a great opportunity for me to promote this game that we all love. If having me talk about my experiences can help somebody gain a little bit more interest, then I’m doing my job.”
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets ($220), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.