WWC’s man behind the numbers

Paul Carr was one of four researchers in South Africa last summer for ESPN’s award-winning production of the FIFA World Cup.

This Sunday, the senior researcher in ESPN’s Stats & Information Group will depart for Frankfurt, Germany, where he and co-researcher Jon Costa will relive the World Cup experience for the next month.

They will compile notes for every match, select and verify information for on-air graphics, research in-game notes, answer questions from commentators and producers, and provide match recaps that will be used by ESPN’s entire content group.

Work days will be long and the volume will be immense, but for Carr, “Nothing can match the energy generated by a World Cup. The passion and excitement of the tournament, combined with ESPN’s commitment to exceptional coverage, make each FIFA World Cup an exhilarating experience.”

Carr’s love for the World Cup began when he was growing up in Topeka, Kansas, and his passion for soccer became even stronger while attending Wheaton College in Illinois.

“The Wheaton men’s team had won the NCAA Division III national title the year before I arrived, so there was a passionate student fan base. It didn’t hurt that I lived with a couple guys on the team,” Carr said.

He attended every match and soon began working in the sports information office.

Eventually, he got a college broadcasting gig, calling the team’s matches on radio and writing match stories for the school paper.

After graduating in 2002, Carr returned to Topeka where he worked in sports radio (580 WIBW), local television (Fox 43 TV) and at the Topeka Capital-Journal for five years before joining ESPN in 2008.

His first two years in Bristol were with ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike In The Morning.

As lead researcher for the Women’s World Cup, Carr directs a team of 12 Stats & Information employees who produce an internal website that serves as a comprehensive hub for the soccer content team and the company’s studio content unit.

The site features player notes, fact files on each country, historical information, record books and more.

Perhaps the site’s most valuable tool is a database with every Women’s World Cup goal ever scored, sortable by variables such as score, time, opponent and round.

During a recent ESPN Women’s World Cup talent seminar in Bristol on June 6, executive producer Jed Drake introduced key production team members to the 13 commentators who were meeting as a group for the first time.

Upon Carr’s introduction, ESPN’s lead voice for soccer Ian Darke intoned: “On behalf of the on-air talent, big thank you to Paul Carr for his notes and updates.”

It was a fitting acknowledgement for one of the more than 200 staffers who will play a critical role in ESPN’s presentation of the Women’s World Cup this summer, though viewers probably will never see or hear him.

To keep up on the Women’s World Cup, follow Paul on Twitter @PCarrESPN, and read ESPN Stats & Information’s Five Aside soccer blog here: http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/blog/_/name/five_aside