Recent Comments by dave2007

NFL eyeing bigger plans for London?

I think the real fan objection to playing NFL regular season games in London is that you are cheating home town fans and season ticket holders. There aren't that many home games as is, and sending your team to London means you have one less home game to go to.

posted by dave2007 at 09:37 PM on November 06

NFL eyeing bigger plans for London?

"How many times does the NFL have to fail in Europe before we realize they care as much about our football as we care about theirs."

False equivalence. There's very high TV ratings for the EPL in the USA; NBC just outbid Fox and ESPN for the rights. There's a bidding war for World Cup and other international TV rights, as well. I'm sure there's a healthy sub-culture of NFL fans in Europe, but there aren't multiple European TV networks getting into bidding wars with each other for NFL TV rights.

Meanwhile, domestically, MLS draws more per game on average than the NBA or NHL. Yes, MLS is still a long way from getting to NBA/NHL levels of gross revenue, but it is doing very well and growing nicely. Go watch some MLS matches on TV or the internet if you don't believe me. Pay attention to the big crowds in the newer MLS franchises like Seattle or Portland. Soccer definitely has earned a permanent place in the US sports scene (in fact it's been around since the 1880s but never managed to break into the big time permanently), whereas American gridiron football in Europe is still an oddity - difficult and expensive to play, too well adapted to TV to be much of a live experience for people who did not grow up in a gridiron culture, and with no organic gridiron culture of its own in Europe that is remotely comparable to the organic home-grown soccer culture here in the USA.

So please don't compare the plight of gridiron in Europe with the healthy state of soccer here in the USA. This claim is a little too much "false equivalence" supported by a rather outdated notion of the state of soccer in the USA.

posted by dave2007 at 09:34 PM on November 06

"In the white spaces. I think about the silence at Lord's, and I understand. Test cricket is different from the rest of the world because it was designed to be."

//Shoots self.

Well, that's it for owlhouse, then.

Consider a different perspective: as an American I find this is a huge improvement reading something about cricket from a fellow American. Many simply don't grasp the huge linguistic and conceptual barriers that cricket has for Americans. To an American most cricket writing is literally undecipherable - the words look like English but they don't parse. The meaning is lost, too much cultural knowledge is simply assumed by the writer which doesn't exist in the American reader.

I went to the "swinging away" cricket exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown earlier this year, a co-production with Lord's and a Philadelphia area cricket history collection. I was literally the only person I saw looking at the cricket exhibits most of the time. Most American baseball fans simply aren't interested in the history of sports beyond the narrow parochial myths, stories and stats of American baseball. "It takes five days to play and can still end in a draw" is literally the only thing most of them know about cricket. I heard an American child watching a video of a cricket match for the first time: "that's so WRONG!" ...a childish attitude most never grow out of. I mean literally most adult sports fans still feel this way; they know what they know and they don't want to learn anything new.

It's nice to see any American sports writers take these sorts of things seriously. The parochial nature of American sports writing is overwhelming. The internet and greater access to the sporting world outside of North America has changed that somewhat. In short he can talk about himself all he wants, so long as he conveys the new information in a language I can understand.

posted by dave2007 at 12:41 PM on December 28

Could Rugby Take Off in the US?

@33: Total number of players is meaningless because most American rugby players have never held a rugby ball until they join a rugby club at university (ie ages 18-21). That is far too late to be learning the game. That is why, in spite of some ex-pats from rugby countries on the USA Eagles squad, we will likely lose three of our pool matches by huge margins, and I'm frankly dubious we will do all that well against Russia, either.

posted by dave2007 at 01:27 PM on September 08

Could Rugby Take Off in the US?

Rugby is too similar to gridiron. Soccer has created its own niche in the USA precisely because it is different from the big three American sports.

"Takes over" is a complete red-herring. Soccer does not need to take over from the big three in order to thrive in the USA. It is doing quite well in fact.

It took soccer 45 years to get to this point, though. Starting with the televising of the 1966 WC final in the USA. Prior to that soccer was confined to ethnic enclaves. But even 45 years ago, soccer had a much bigger presence in the USA than rugby has NOW! Soccer had several attempts, in the late 19th century and in the 1920s and in the 1960s and 1970s to make the big time. Rugby has had zero attempts.

As early as the 1920s and 1930s top level visiting European soccer teams could draw crowds of over 40,000 in the USA. Today those visiting teams regularly fill NFL stadiums of 60,000 or 70,000 or more. Top level visiting rugby teams have only just reached crowds of 10,000 or so in the last decade in the USA. There has been a huge, under-served soccer fan presence in the USA for over a century. American rugby fans are few in number and very recent in origin, and the TV coverage unfortunately reflects that. USA rugby fans will have to pay extra to watch most of the WC matches. Soccer fans do not have that problem, and we do not even have commercial interruptions anymore, either - people said that would never happen, but it did.

Rugby does not have the huge populations of American fans interested in following the top level competitions overseas that soccer has. The money to be made in rugby in the USA is much smaller than for soccer.

It would take many decades of intense and expensive effort to raise rugby to the minor, but still respectable, position soccer is in now. And I do not yet see any billionaires out there willing to do for rugby what they have done for soccer.

Finally, the modest growth in club rugby is meaningless without any growth in youth rugby. College is far too late to be learning rugby fundamentals. High school is better but there are only a handful of HS rugby programs. Stealing players from gridiron is unlikely to work either and will antagonize the already hostile sports establishment. Rugby in the USA is still too much of a drunken frat boy sport. Great fun as a social club but nowhere near professional enough to be taken seriously. The leap to true professionalism is unlikely to happen because the money making potential is not there. Rugby of either code is too similar to gridiron to be able to draw enough new fans and players in the USA to make rugby commercially viable. Similarity to gridiron is a disadvantage, not an advantage, for rugby in the USA.

American rugby fans should be grateful for the modest growth their sport has had. But do not get delusional about the future.

posted by dave2007 at 01:13 PM on September 08

Conservapedia: Soccer is Socialism

Here's the actual link to the footnote which the Conservapedia editor was too inept to link properly:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8448287/How-to-coach-a-football-team-with-100-words.html

Note that the writer misunderstands the story: soccer coaches "don't only need a 100 word vocabulary" - a flippant remark was made, and then some wiseacres went out and made up a list of 100 words. This is a joke - which the writer doesn't get. No coach limits himself to 100 words; but if he had to maybe he could - does a basketball coach really need more than 100 words? A baseball coach? A football coach (note that the playbook contains pre-written plays with diagrams - you only need one word per play - does football have more than 100 plays? Does it matter?). The writer has taken a bit of light-hearted humor and interpreted it literally. It's a joke: look at that list of 100 words - could you really coach a soccer team with just those words? You'd lose all the nuance about what ideas you are tying to convey. It would be like talking in code without context; you'd be out of your depth. You need to actually have some experience with soccer to get the humor here. The Conservapedia writer does not get it.

Dominic Glennon, of the English Language Teaching Department at Cambridge University Press, said: "I suspect Fabio needs more than 100 words to manage the England team effectively but we believe his statement is not far from the truth."

In other words if he didn't mind coaching badly he might be able to limit himself to 100 words. The point is, no one seriously thinks he would limit himself to 100 words. This is tongue-in-cheek humor. Unfortunately our literal-minded Conservapedia types will never realize this because they are too busy guote-mining.

Of course what our Conservapedian also doesn't get is that a soccer coach doesn't need to explain in great detail to the soccer players how to play, because in soccer, players play and don't take much direction from coaches during play. They have to improvise and come up with the own plays, unlike in American sports where everything is pre-planned. In other words, soccer players are free, whereas American sports players are robots, controlled by their coaches. Is this the "conservative, anti-socialist" line of argument that Conservapedia wants to pursue? Because it completely undermines their case. Soccer coaches don't need a lot of words because they understand freedom! Americans, sadly, have become too militarized to understand the irony about our constant trumpeting about "American freedom" when we are constantly being told what to do by our government. Freedom!

posted by dave2007 at 06:27 AM on July 07

Conservapedia: Soccer is Socialism

This is too fun not to critique:

"The "no hands" rule can be compared to socialist tax policies."

WTF? Is baseball's balk rule comparable to the GOP tax policies? Is basketball's traveling rule comparable to the Laffer Curver? Seriously, WTF?

"The "off-sides" rule prohibits using certain aggressive ("unfair") tactics in the game."

As do all kinds of rules in American sports. Does the writer actually know any sports rules at all? Prohibiting unfair or overly-aggressive tactics is done in all sports, popular American sports included.

"Soccer is very bureaucratic, and teams are very much tied to their countries."

Again, WTF? NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL/NCAA aren't very bureaucratic? American teams aren't very much tied to their countries?

"The US is often treated unfairly by other nations in the game, one reason being soccer's lack of popularity in the US - socialism always claimed to favor the absolute will of the majority rather than personal and economic freedom of the individual."

WTF x100! Everyone thinks their team was treated unfairly. That hasn't stopped sports from being popular. Will of the majority? Isn't that democracy, not socialism per se? Personal and economic freedom of the individual? Has the writer never heard of team sports? This doesn't even parse as bad demagoguery; it literally makes no sense at all. It is so incoherent, that "it isn't even wrong" as they say.

"The World Cup trophy resembles socialist Hollywood's Emmy Award."

WTF? Not true, but so what? The Super Bowl trophy looks like a hood ornament. The World Series trophy looks like one of those old fashioned desk-top spikes for holding down memos/notes. This idiot, of course, knows nothing about what the original Jules Rimet trophy looked like.

"In youth leagues, everyone gets a trophy for their efforts regardless of achievement, and there is no scoring in the game."

Getting trophies for participation is an American capitalist thing, not a socialist thing, and is done in all American youth sports, not just soccer. And there is plenty of scoring in the game: the writer is an idiot x100.

" Even the World Cup encourages "achievement" by holding a third-place game for the two losers in the semifinals."

Again, so f_cking what? So do plenty of other sports; the NFL used to do this, the Olympics do this - giving a bronze medal is suddenly "socialist" now? WTF?

"Union strikes, even during the playing season, are a major issue with soccer."

No they aren't - not in comparison to pro sports in the USA. Right now we are threatened with both an NFL and an NBA strike, and there have been strikes in the other American major leagues over the past 10-20 years. How many strikes have there been in soccer, especially in the big leagues? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? The writer could have done some research - 5 minutes Googling would have sufficed.

"Riots caused by "hooligans" - fans of a team which lost a game - often include violent crimes, such as infringement on private property rights."

Yeah, this sort of thing NEVER happens in the North American major league sports and college sports, does it? And let's not hear the "Vancouver is in Canada" excuse, because there is a long list of American cities with sports riots where violent crimes and destruction of private property occurred. Again, a few minutes doing some basic research would have sufficed to avoid howlers like this.

"Participants are known to behave dishonestly and illegally and act against the interests of their team in order to gain financially themselves.[5]

Again, this happens in spades in the American major leagues. Is the writer a complete idiot, or a Poe? Sadly, there's no hint of humor here; the writer really seems to not know what he is talking about. He or she isn't just mostly wrong, but totally wrong, on everything!

"Soccer coaches only need a vocabulary of about 100 words to coach their teams [6],"

Go to the Conservapedia page, and click on footnote number 6 - it takes you straight back to the same place on the Conservapedia page on soccer linked above! In other words, it is a fraud. The writer has no source for this claim. Given the fact that he or she has been 100% wrong on virtually every other point in this list, what are the odds that there is any reliable source for this claim? Can you imagine any soccer coach limiting himself to 100 words? It's insane!

"which is reminiscent of socialist pandering to the lowest common denominator."

Socialists only have a 100 word vocabulary? Conservatives don't pander to the lowest common denominator? Hello?

"At least twice as many conservative words alone originated in the 20th century. "

Twice as many as what? This idiot doesn't even bother insert a fake footnote to support that claim. Citation needed! What the heck are "conservative words" anyway? Seems to me a big conservative complaint against the left was that the left was constantly manufacturing neologisms. Now this idiot claims that it is the conservatives who do this?

What a train-wreck. Is it a Poe? Is it a leftist infiltrator of Conservapedia trying to make conservatives look bad? Are the editors blind? One can only point, and laugh. Seriously. Someone who claims to be a conservative let this abortion of an article be published? Have they no shame? Have they no pride?

posted by dave2007 at 06:04 AM on July 07

Conservapedia: Soccer is Socialism

"Wow, conservatives are idiots."

No, conservapedia are idiots.

"Conservatives are generally smart and realistic -- but whoever wrote this is an idiot."

Conservapedia is notorious for being run by not-very-bright doctrinaire types, often of the Bible-thumper or Creationist persuasion. Since it's a wiki style publication relying on volunteers, and there's no evidence for any kind of editorial control by people who actually know how to write a proper encyclopedia-style article, the result is a train-wreck. This article isn't the worst example I've seen of this kind of stupidity from Conservapedia, either. They don't seem to understand that what they are doing undermines their cause, either. It's pathetic.

"I've actually thought for a while that one of the barriers to entry for Americans regarding soccer is the unilateral refereeing, which is essentially monarchical or totalitarian. American sports veer towards, if not democracy, at least oligarchy, with multiple referees interacting and often a superseding review process. I think Americans tend to dislike the idea that effort or talent can be obscured or invalidated by the whim of a single person."

And yet they end up being obscured or invalidated by the whim of a single person anyway - or by the whim of a committee. How is that better? I don't really think the refereeing in soccer is an insurmountable hurdle; it is simply a matter of what one is used to. Americans have been getting used to soccer quite a lot lately. It takes time but we're getting there.

Speaking of committees: American gridiron football has been described as "brief bursts of intense violence, separated by long committee meetings".

posted by dave2007 at 05:01 AM on July 07

Argentine Soccer Giants Relegated

Yes, but the Graf Spee was an own goal. Also, they played in the Uruguayan league.

posted by dave2007 at 11:43 PM on July 01

Hard Lessons

"None of this is going to matter until American athletes decide to choose soccer. That's the problem. Our best athletes don't play the sport. Imagine if some of the freakish talents we see in the NFL and NBA had chosen soccer instead of thier respective sport. Can you see Chris Johnson (RB, Tenn.) as a forward or LeBron James and Calvin Johnson (WR, Det.) as midfielders? How about Randy Moss in goal?"

That doesn't necessarily follow; "soccer IQ" on the pitch isn't simply a matter of being a superior athlete; you have to spend a good portion of your childhood developing basic ball control skills and a good portion of your teen years developing an ability to read the game and make split second decisions. Being very tall or very big aren't necessarily an advantage in soccer (except for goalies); players tend towards the average in size - soccer body type is built more for endurance than for size or sudden bursts of speed, so players would have to train differently too.

A sudden influx of bigger, faster American athletes choosing soccer would exaggerate a problem we already have: too many American soccer players and coaches focus on size and speed and not enough on intelligent play - developing good first touch, knowing where to be at the right moment so that you look "fast" even if you aren't really that fast. One should anticipate, not merely run fast.

So yeah it would be nice to pick better athletes from the talent pool for American soccer, but they need to grow up in a soccer environment, grow up thinking and watching and playing and dreaming soccer. That's more possible now than in the past, what with the internet, global TV, a world-wide sporting scene available to all that wasn't available 10-20 years ago.

Kids need to grow up playing unorganized street soccer, for the love of it, not merely "soccer as a youth activity" as it is now. I grew up playing street soccer in the 1970s, but that was because I and my friends grew up with a popular local NASL team to watch and emulate. That plugged us in to the "soccer culture" which is very necessary to get kids to put in the kind of time it takes to create soccer players.

As soccer gets more popular in the USa it doesn't necessarily follow that soccer will be diverting players otherwise destined for football or baseball or basketball or ice hockey; there are plenty of athletes now who don't go into those sports because they aren't a good fit for them, but who might be a good fit for soccer. Someone can be a good athlete but still never make the grade in sport A while being perfect for sport B.

What makes for a good footballer (soccer player) isn't the same set of qualities that makes one good in other sports. Soccer requires a pretty unique set of skills which means that as the USA improves in soccer, it won't necessarily be "stealing" athletes from other sports; it will be discovering and developing athletes who otherwise wouldn't be involved in professional sports at all. There is of course some crossover and many players who are good at multiple sports, but this idea of "pure athleticism" is exaggerate and there are a lot of athletes who are overlooked simply because they don't fit in to the requirements of the existing "big league" pro sports.

posted by dave2007 at 11:16 PM on July 01

MLB Considering Realignment

"I don't care which teams are in which league as long as this happens. The current unbalanced schedule is garbage."

This will never happen but allow me to indulge my fantasies: balanced schedules with promotion and relegation within MLB (promotion and relegation to the minors will never happen for many reasons we don't want to go into here) and everyone plays by the same set of rules (ie, DH for both NL and AL). MLB is really one league; everyone should be playing by the same rules by now.

Make the NL "division one" (in the old Football League sense), but don't call it that, keep the NL name for historical reasons but make it "division one" or the upper tier, because it is the senior circuit. Make AL "division two", or the lower tier. Each league has 15 teams, balanced home and away schedule of 12 games played against the other teams in the same league, 6 home 6 away (14 times 12 = 168 games; a 10 game home and away would only be 140 games; you could do 11 games home and away for 154 total, but you would then have unbalanced 5 home and 6 away or vice versa).

At the end of the regular season, top 5 of NL and top 5 of AL would go into the World Series playoffs (assuming you want 10 teams in playoffs). NL teams would get better seeding in playoffs because the NL is "division one". The top team in the NL would win the NL pennant and the top of the AL would win the AL pennant; you would go back to old-fashioned pennant races with balanced schedules, followed by World Series playoffs. No divisions based on geography; NL and AL would become single table, balanced schedule leagues dividing MLB into an upper tier and a lower tier, with promotion/relegation between them at the end of the season to match teams based on proven performance rather than geographical proximity or on ancient historical NL/AL vestigial distinctions that really don't mean much any more in the modern MLB.

As indicated above, with promotion/relegation, at the start of the next season, the top (say) five AL teams would move up to the NL, and the bottom five of the NL would drop down to the AL. Or you could be more aggressive and have bottom/top six or seven teams change places; the point would be to make the bottom of NL worth avoiding due to relegation, and to aggressively exchange teams between NL and AL each season, in order to sort teams by ability, ie, the best play the best; the second best play the second best and work their way back into playing the best. You earn your schedule by your team's ability on the field, not by geography or NL/AL history or MLB committees fiddling with the alignments.

This would spice things up a bit, Euro-style, plus you give a real incentive for "free riders" not to be super cheap and hope to sneak into the playoffs on a late season winning streak; the idea would be to encourage the best play all season long. Owners who cheap out would be on the bottom of the AL within two seasons. But, AL teams would still have a chance to make the playoffs, and move up to the NL the next season. So the AL would not be "minor league"; it would still be major league and would not in that sense be like the European system (which doesn't have playoffs anyway so the comparisons aren't precise).

Anyway, it will never happen, but that's my fantasy.

posted by dave2007 at 01:26 AM on June 17

Blatter says FIFA won’t survive if he is deposed

Unfortunately the person likely to replace Blatter would not be an improvement.

posted by dave2007 at 11:08 PM on May 20

Play fair, run fast and smile for the camera

Speaking as an American, IMO this is just another 'why Americans don't like soccer' whine, albeit a bit better written than most. Still a waste of time to read, though. Soccer isn't as random as this writer thinks, and it started out as another 'Anglo-Saxon' sport, too (has the writer never heard of rugby or cricket for that matter?); the fact that it is now a world sport has changed its nature maybe but I like a sport that is like real life - I have enough phony fantasy to last me a life time coming out of Hollywood, thanks very much.

Besides, the writer is wrong: fair play results in the stronger/better defeating the weaker/worse team most of the time, which is in fact what happens in soccer as in any other sport. If American sports really believed in fair play, they would not have introduced so many fantasy elements to create a false sense of excitement (endless clock manipulation, needless overtime and tie breakers, playoffs that allow weaker teams to sneak in a lucky run to the championship, etc), not to mention parity, revenue sharing, college drafts favoring the worst teams, etc. If I want to see a scripted fantasy, professional wrestling is at least honest enough to do away with the sport and present an outright fantasy instead. Might as well be honest about it and go all the way.

There's nothing more fair, and more ruthlessly Darwinian, then the single table, balanced schedule, home and away, most points wins it, no playoff system of the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, etc. Yes there are bad ref decisions and flukes, but those even out in the long run over the course of a nine month season. The writer doesn't seem to 'get it'.

The writer is your typical American sports fan whose entire knowledge of soccer appears to come from watching a few World Cup matches every four years. If that is the source of your knowledge of soccer, then you are going to come to baseless conclusions based on a woefully inadequate understanding of the game. As this writer has done.

posted by dave2007 at 02:00 PM on April 27

Pro Sports Teams Find Religion

@beaverboard : "The D'Backs will fill the seats with their upcoming God N' Guns wingding "

Surely that should be Snake Handlers Night. All the rattlesnakes you can handle and all the strychnine you can drink.

posted by dave2007 at 12:12 AM on April 10

Golfer Murdered by Armed Robber During Round

"vigilance, maybe no help ... change the c to a t AND ... vigilante"

Self-defense is not vigilantism.

posted by dave2007 at 06:42 AM on March 19

MLS Season Opens in Pacific Northwest

"or really it's one or two people"

It's just the people being quoted: one or two people. Seriously, I was expecting something a lot racier than that video, having seen women painted in soccer jerseys for a long time, that was quite tasteful. If you are going to complain about that, you have an axe to grind.

posted by dave2007 at 06:24 AM on March 19

How to Avoid Penalty Shoot Outs

"or you add/remove limitations (such as offsides) in the subsequent extra periods to encourage scoring."

I know it's counter-intuitive, but removing offside does not make scoring more likely in soccer. You see all those goals called back for offside, and you think doing away with offside would mean more goals. But that is not in fact what happens. Teams change their tactics, crowd the box, and make scoring just as difficult as before: it's boring to watch and it eliminates the tactical midfield battle which has been the essence of association football for the past 140+ years. Experiments have been tried:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offside_%28association_football%29#History

"Throughout the 198788 season, the GM Vauxhall Conference was used to test an experimental rule change, whereby no attacker could be offside directly from a free-kick. This change was not deemed a success, as the attacking team could pack the penalty area for any free-kick (or even have several players stand in front of the opposition goalkeeper) and the rule change was not introduced at a higher level."

Soccer also experimented with a "golden goal" in overtime (first goal in overtime wins the game) but abandoned the idea because it simply encouraged more negative, defensive play, because both sides were afraid to give up the first goal. Playing the shootout first in ice hockey might have a similar effect: the team "leading" due to winning the shootout would have a greater incentive to play negatively and defensively, frustrate the "trailing" team, and hope to perpetual the tie until the end of OT and/or score off of a break against a frustrated "trailing" team trying to overcome the shootout handicap. You can't be sure what will happen though unless you try it.

Or here's a wild thought: why not just do away with tie-breakers during the regular season, and reserve OT and shootouts for the playoffs when you actually need to determine a winner. There's nothing wrong with a hard fought tie game where the teams "split the points" after a tie, as they do in soccer. If you're going to be experimenting, why not try that? The "tie games are like kissing your sister" complaint has always seemed a very silly complaint to me.

posted by dave2007 at 06:02 AM on March 19

Ochocinco Trying to Get His Kicks in KC

"Interesting. It's been said for years that the only reason the US does not compete internationally in soccer is that our best athletes are driven to other sports for financial reasons. If Ochocinco can make it in MLS after not playing the game for years it might lend credibility to that theory. Also, "Ochocinco" would make a great mononym, like Pele and Kaka."

He "began playing soccer at age four, and played competitively until high school" so from age 4 to 14 or so he would have gotten more than just the basics down, assuming "playing competitively" means something like a youth club team or traveling team, and not just ten years of AYSO "everybody plays" youth soccer as a mere "activity".

Dropping out at age 14 or 15 to switch to gridiron would have hurt his soccer development a lot, so I don't think anyone expects him to turn out to be an MLS starter, much less an outstanding soccer player, but he might be good enough to play a season (or half season or however long the lock out lasts) as a sub and occasional starter.

This has greater potential as a publicity stunt than a real experiment in cross code football. But who knows it might be fun to watch.

The problem with developing soccer players in the USA has been lack of youth role models and potential to earn big bucks (MLS and "Yanks Abroad" are starting to change that), so that kids don't even think about pro soccer as a career and don't grow up as soccer fans (even if they play the game) and don't grow up in a soccer culture (even if they play the game).

Soccer as a mere youth activity is also a problem. Youth soccer clubs as a way to get money out of parents ("pay to play") instead of as a way to develop young pro talent (the academy system) is another problem. The sudden drop off of youth soccer participation levels at about age 14-15 due to high school sports is another part of the problem.

That last one is a real issue: at about age 14-15 is when young soccer players start thinking about turning pro in a few years time, if they are really good, but in American sports that is just when high school sports kicks in, followed by college. Neither high school soccer nor college/university soccer has been, or ever will be, very good at developing youth players into pro soccer talents, especially when it comes to the most talented players.

The academy system is the only way to go for soccer, and fortunately MLS knows that and MLS teams have been setting up academy systems for the past four years or so. And they've already been having some results, though it will take a long time to develop properly.

posted by dave2007 at 05:37 AM on March 19

Parity vs. Greatness

The writer talks about the national top divisions where two to four teams always dominate, but not about the Champions League which has much more parity. Also the single table league format tends to reward the best team overall whereas the American playoff system is a bit more random in determining a champion.

European soccer is a bit more like NCAA football and basketball: the European clubs are a bit like the American universities: independent entities, with the top dogs tending to rake in the most cash and championships without any concern for parity.

It's not a perfect comparison, though, since with constant conference realignment for the purposes of taking in more TV revenue, NCAA sports are a bit of an anarchic free-for-all compared to the European soccer pyramid structure where you rise or fall based solely on how well you perform on the field, rather than due to business negotiations.

Since university sports teams can't move to another city like they do in American pro sports, they have built up the kind of loyalty over a century or more of existence which European clubs have also built up. Imagine the NCAA run as a pro sports league where you don't lose your players to graduation or the draft, and you have some inkling of the local loyalty that keeps small European clubs alive even when they have no chance of winning anything.

posted by dave2007 at 04:18 AM on March 09

Save Me From Myself

....sorry, meant to add that I'm mixing up UEFA and FA levels of administration. This does not apply to revenue sharing at the national level as it only applies to teams participating in EUFA competitions. So, never mind what I said.

posted by dave2007 at 02:26 AM on March 09

Save Me From Myself

Would it really be any worse than the system that exists now, as far as the smaller clubs are concerned?

Maybe a bit of revenue sharing would be in order; didn't the clubs use to split the gate receipts between home and visiting teams? That's one way to ensure that the smaller clubs can compete financially. Why was this done away with? (okay that's more of an FA or PL level solution, not a UEFA solution, but whatever)

I see reading the article this only applies to clubs wanting to participate in EUFA competition; so no real incentive there to level things a bit at the national level. This

posted by dave2007 at 02:13 AM on March 09

Irish Cricket Team Defeats England in World Cup

A bit like USA beating England 1-0 at the World Cup in 1950.

posted by dave2007 at 09:01 PM on March 02

If EPL Clubs Were U.S. Sports Teams

"Again, this is just not fair to compare the NFL and the MLB teams with those unknown soccer teams. Everybody know the Yankees and the Jets, but I seriously doubt that many people know what the heck Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs are."

This has to be a parody, ie, someone pulling our leg or "taking the piss" as the Brits say.

posted by dave2007 at 08:27 PM on February 16

AFC Wimbledon May Face MK Dons in FA Cup

Is this a British thing? Shouldn't AFC Wimbledon be pumped to beat the splitters

Football clubs in Europe aren't franchises; they almost never move, except across their street or across their city when they build a new stadium. If your town doesn't have a professional team, you put money into your local club and move "up the ladder"; you don't move someone else's club from their city to yours.

It's the defining difference between a closed cartel-like system that is used for professional sports in the USA, and the open system used in Europe and elsewhere where any club can move up the ladder. In America if your team moves they tell you to stop being a "baby" and to "grow up", because sports "is just a business". In the European system, it's not just a business; it is a bit more intense than that. Hence the feelings here are not at all comparable to what you would get between, say, the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens.

posted by dave2007 at 05:29 AM on November 13

Soccer Player Removes Shorts After Goal

Well i didn't think there was a loophole, but if there was it might have made sense of this sort of 'celebration'. Now I don't know what to think - taking off your shorts is harder to do than taking off your shirt and just looks silly. What's the point, if you get a yellow either way?

posted by dave2007 at 02:09 AM on October 12

Ron Artest Knocks American Player Limits

If a whole bunch of Euros came over here to play in MLS, we would be thrilled. We wouldnt call them second tier because they are good enough and better than most MLS players. No one would make the claim that it is hurting soccer in America to not have a place for good Americans to play.

Wow, thanks for demonstrating that you know absolutely nothing about MLS or the history of soccer in the USA. MLS was set up specifically so that American born players would have a place to play and develop - not putting a limit on foreign players would significantly stunt the growth of native born soccer talent.

Soccer is a minor sport in the USA and needs all the help it can get. Compare the 1990 USMNT to the 2010 USMNT and the change that has come about thanks to MLS is obvious. No way we would have developed that talent without a domestic league with a certain minimum number of spots for native players.

Also American soccer fans can watch all the top European soccer they want on TV - MLS is never going to be good enough to compete with that, so there is no sense going bankrupt signing better players when you can not compete with the top European leagues. MLS will grow its own native audience slowly. Quick fixes do not work.

I didnt know that. That seems wrong to me (not your info, the fact that this is common practice). Is this complained about much (besides me)? It seems like the kind of practice that would develop from a fear of an influx of brown and black players.

Wow. Just, wow. (rolleyes)

There is no way that having a less competitive league is better for U.S. soccer.

Ever heard of the NASL? That league attracted lots of top players but it was not a sustainable business model. You would not be saying the things you are saying if you had any familiarity with US soccer history.

Anyway, I was thinking the racial thing would have been started long before MLS to keep the brown people out of the Euro leagues.

It is not a racial thing. It was never a racial thing. Learn some soccer history before speculating wildly.

posted by dave2007 at 03:12 AM on October 10

Soccer Player Fails to Tap Female Referee

Leo Dicaprio is a heck of a lot prettier than that ref.

posted by dave2007 at 02:30 AM on October 10

Charlie Davies Says He Lied About Speeding

CD9, you need to think more about who you let drive you around.

posted by dave2007 at 02:28 AM on October 10

Soccer Player Removes Shorts After Goal

What, is there a loophole where you get an automatic yellow for taking your shirt off after scoring a goal, but they forgot to mention a yellow card for taking off your shorts?

posted by dave2007 at 02:28 AM on October 10

Usain Bolt Wants to Play Soccer

"If my math is correct he'll be around 28-29 in 4 years. Old for a midfielder."

No, that really isn't that old. That's typically the peak of a player's career; the downward slope is in sight but it isn't quite there yet.

However, good 28-29 year old players have spent the previous ten years playing top level competitive matches, and the ten years prior to that playing with reserve teams and academy teams and youth teams.

Trying to come in at age 28-29, without that previous 20+ years of experience, and join a competitive squad at anything above the amateur level, is tough.

posted by dave2007 at 06:46 AM on September 12

Are You Sure Your Country Wants the World Cup?

This story doesn't apply to the USA: all the infrastructure is already in place. The USA 1994 World Cup is still the best attended World Cup even though it was the last to have only 24 teams instead of the current 32, so there were fewer matches, but they were all sold out matches and were mostly stadiums holding 70,000 or more.

If the USA gets picked for 2022 (or later) it isn't going to get stuck with billions of dollars in unneeded stadium or other infrastructure improvements.

FIFA won't care because they'll make out like a bandit on TV rights and ticket sales.

It's really only the smaller/poorer countries who get suckered into building stadiums and improving infrastructure, who get stuck with these expenses because they think they need FIFA more than FIFA thinks it needs them.

posted by dave2007 at 11:41 PM on July 15

Henry Signs for New York Red Bulls

I really want to b!tch slap people who live within easy travel distance of the new Red Bull Arena and who refuse to see even one match there because they think they're too precious to bother with the "obviously inferior" MLS.

It's better than you think; give it a try. Try to be an actual supporter and support your local football club. It's what real football supporters culture is all about: being at the actual game.

posted by dave2007 at 11:19 PM on July 15

Designer Defends Jabulani World Cup Ball

@Howard_T: "Every sport that I am aware of has a specification written into the rules for the ball (or puck). Every sport, that is, except soccer."

This is just wrong. Insanely wrong. It isn't that hard to Google the official Laws of Football and FIFA (more specifically: IFAB) specifications for the ball, you know.

There are quite specific parameters for the size, shape, weight, and air pressure that all football manufacturers have to adhere to. The Jabulani ball fits within those official parameters.

But there's a lot of room to play with inside those official parameters, especially as new technologies, materials, and manufacturing techniques become available.

After the abandonment of external stitches, and later the replacement of leather with synthetic materials, the football hasn't really changed all that much - these complaints are mostly players complaining for the sake of complaining or trying to provide excuses beforehand in case they don't perform well at the World Cup.

It's not like baseball where the ball has been deliberately redesigned over the past century and a half to change the nature of the game (ie, the dead ball era, post-dead ball era, etc). Or American gridiron football which literally changed the shape of its "ball" to improve the passing game, at the expense of the kicking game.

posted by dave2007 at 04:02 AM on June 20

Let's Make NFL Extra Points Interesting

Do away with the goal posts and kicking? Sure why not; you've eliminated just about every other element of actual football from American "football" anyway. Please go ahead and change the name of the game to something else, too, while you're at it.

posted by dave2007 at 09:48 PM on December 24

Mark Cuban Accused of Insider Trading

Here's another point of view those of you with an open mind might want to consider:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/ grigg/grigg-w59.html

I'm not saying I necessarily agree with the writer, but it is true that these kinds of insider trading regulations are notoriously vulnerable to selective enforcement and politically motivated prosecutions.

Considering the mind-blowingly weird and over-the-top economic shenanigans that have been going on this past year or two, and considering we have a secret bailout of taxpayer money that we aren't allowed to know where our money is going to, controlled by a Treasury Secretary who "just happens" to have come to his job after working for Goldman Sachs (no conflict of interest there, right?), are we really supposed to believe that everything is on the up-and-up here and automatically believe that Mark Cuban is guilty simply because the SEC says so, and that this is the best thing that the SEC can find to do with its time and resources, right now?

A little skepticism is in order here, people.

posted by dave2007 at 05:02 AM on November 21

How Football Explains America.

"Ah, yes dave, I did read the article. Unfortunately, I have read several articles from Wells and they all seem to have the same piss and vinegar quality. Perhaps I just automatically read his work as whiny complaining rather than the exemplary journalism you seem to think it."

curlyelk: Do you read British journalists much? This is fairly typical style. Some people like "piss and vinegar". Just because he is saying something you don't want to hear, and doing so in a manner you don't like, doesn't make him a "whiny complainer".

And I never claimed it was "exemplary journalism", however he makes good points and backs them up with rational thought, which compared to Paolantonio does indeed make him an "exemplary" journalist, relatively speaking.

posted by dave2007 at 02:56 AM on October 08

How Football Explains America.

"I also felt the piss and vinegar quality of Wells' writing, seems to take Paolantonio's views rather personally. Soccer fans seem to always do that when anyone suggests that American football is better in any way."

Maybe he thinks American sports jingos are just obnoxious, ever thought of that?

Speaking for American soccer fans, let me let you: if you were constantly insulted - not just online, BUT TO YOUR FACE IN REAL LIFE - because you liked soccer; if ignorant trolls intruded into your conversations about soccer on a daily basis to mock and insult you because you like soccer, and if you've been putting up with this kind of CRAP for the past FORTY YEARS you'd be be taking-it-f_cking-personally- too!

This is typical bully behavior: constantly attack someone and then when your target responds in anger, throw up your hands and say "oh lawdy! I have no ah-deah why you ah taking this all so personally!" This act gets old really fast.

"I've played both, both have their attributes, however, I got bored playing in 1-0 games, so I'd have to think it might be hard to write a narrative of it. That could be me."

It's you. Thousands of writers have had no trouble writing narratives about soccer matches and they've been doing it for over a hundred years.

Look, you didn't grow up in a soccer-loving culture. Just because you played some soccer does not mean that you actually understand the game on any fundamental level. I've never met anyone who didn't love soccer who really had an intuitive grasp of the game from a fan's perspective. If you don't love it, you'll never make the effort to understand it, and you'll never be able to write about it intelligently.

What the soccer-bashers do is mistake their own cultural blinders and their own prejudices for some kind of universal TRUTH.

And that combination of ignorance and arrogance should piss off any thinking person.

posted by dave2007 at 02:48 AM on October 08

How Football Explains America.

I guess ethnic cleansing is okay when it serves the short term political interests of the President:

http://www.juancole.com/2008/ 07/social-history-of- surge.html

The problem with this debate is that it has few Iraqis in it.

It is also open to charges of logical fallacy. The only evidence presented for the thesis that the "surge" "worked" is that Iraqi deaths from political violence have declined in recent months from all-time highs in the second half of 2006 and the first half of 2007. (That apocalyptic violence was set off by the bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra in February of 2006, which helped provoke a Sunni-Shiite civil war.) What few political achievements are attributed to the troop escalation are too laughable to command real respect.

Proponents are awfully hard to pin down on what the "surge" consisted of or when it began. It seems to me to refer to the troop escalation that began in February, 2007. But now the technique of bribing Sunni Arab former insurgents to fight radical Sunni vigilantes is being rolled into the "surge" by politicians such as John McCain. But attempts to pay off the Sunnis to quiet down began months before the troop escalation and had a dramatic effect in al-Anbar Province long before any extra US troops were sent to al-Anbar (nor were very many extra troops ever sent there). I will disallow it. The "surge" is the troop escalation beginning winter of 2007. The bribing of insurgents to come into the cold could have been pursued without a significant troop escalation, and was.

Aside from defining what proponents mean by the "surge," all kinds of things are claimed for it that are not in evidence. The assertion depends on a possible logical fallacy: post hoc ergo propter hoc. If event X comes after event Y, it is natural to suspect that Y caused X. But it would often be a false assumption. Thus, actress Sharon Stone alleged that the recent earthquake in China was caused by China's crackdown on Tibetan protesters. That is just superstition, and callous superstition at that. It is a good illustration, however, of the very logical fallacy to which I am referring.

For the first six months of the troop escalation, high rates of violence continued unabated. That is suspicious. What exactly were US troops doing differently last September than they were doing in May, such that there was such a big change? The answer to that question is simply not clear. Note that the troop escalation only brought US force strength up to what it had been in late 2005. In a country of 27 million, 30,000 extra US troops are highly unlikely to have had a really major impact, when they had not before.

As best I can piece it together, what actually seems to have happened was that the escalation troops began by disarming the Sunni Arabs in Baghdad. Once these Sunnis were left helpless, the Shiite militias came in at night and ethnically cleansed them. Shaab district near Adhamiya had been a mixed neighborhood. It ended up with almost no Sunnis. Baghdad in the course of 2007 went from 65% Shiite to at least 75% Shiite and maybe more. My thesis would be that the US inadvertently allowed the chasing of hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs out of Baghdad (and many of them had to go all the way to Syria for refuge). Rates of violence declined once the ethnic cleansing was far advanced, just because there were fewer mixed neighborhoods. Newsrack was among the first to make this argument, though I was tracking the ethnic cleansing at my blog throughout 2007. See also Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post on this issue.

posted by dave2007 at 02:23 AM on October 08

How Football Explains America.

....sorry to have gone offtopic, however...

dviking,

The "surge" isn't working because the political goals that Bush said were supposed to be achieved have NOT been achieved (ie a stable Iraqi government that actually has legitimacy in the eyes of all Iraqis and that has sovereign power and isn't propped up artificially by US troops), and these goals are no closer to being achieved now than they were before the "surge".

What Bush has done is change the definition of "winning"; ie he's moved the goalposts again. He's made people forget what the surge was suppose to have achieved, and substituted a temporary dip in deaths/fighting, instead, as "winning". And people like you are getting fooled AGAIN. All Bush has done is punted so that the poor fools who have to take over his mess after he's gone (ie starting with the next president) will have to take the blame instead of Bush.

The "surge" wasn't supposed to just reduce deaths, it was supposed to produce a political settlement that will allow us to pull troops out. Where's the political settlement? Where's the troops pullout? That's right: nowhere to be found. That's because the "surge" was actually intended to fool the dumb-f_ck American voters, it was never intended to result in a pullout of US troops from Iraq. McCain knows: we'll be there another 100 years "if necessary".

And the reduction in deaths is hugely misleading, too, and had nothing to do with the "surge". It started BEFORE the surge when Sunnis began to turn against "Al Qaeda in Iraq" (which despite its name has nothing to do with Al Qaeda), and when the USA began to PAY, ie, to bribe, the Sunnis not to fight us. Amazing! We pay them off, fighting goes down. What did that have to do with the "surge"? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

The situation in Baghdad was similarly deceptive. Fighting/deaths went down because there was no one left for the sectarians to kill. Mixed neighborhoods ceased to exist as Sunnis were chased out of Baghdad. Now that the Sunnis and Shia live in segregated communities, there are fewer opportunities for the two communities to kill each other, and so deaths went down. What did this have to do with "the surge"? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Was the goal of the "surge" to put official seal of approval on ethnic cleansing in Iraq? If so, Mission Accomplished. Was the goal of the "surge" to pay off and arm Sunni militias and thus set up a future civil war between Sunnis in the West of Iraq and the Shia government in Baghdad? If so, Mission Accomplished. Was the goal of he "surge" to make the media stop talking about Iraq? If so, Mission Accomplished.

Are levels of deaths, fighting, terrorism, etc, down? Sure, but they had to go down eventually. It could have not continued upwards forever. The point is, they aren't down all that much, and they are nowhere near close to being anywhere near as far down as they were before we invaded Iraq. Iraq is still "broken".

I'm sorry about your brother, but his job is to follow orders, not think. He doesn't know the big picture and unless he speaks Arabic and makes a real effort to know what is going on, he will be the absolute worst source of information about the real situation in Iraq.

I suggest you try informing yourself from sources who try to see the bigger picture; here's one:

www.juancole.com

posted by dave2007 at 02:17 AM on October 08

How Football Explains America.

***Owlhouse: "Patriots with high blood pressure please avoid."***

Haha. I initially misread that as "Patriots fans with high blood pressure please avoid."

***curlyelk: "Scathing article by Wells, although it comes off as if his feelings were hurt because Paolantonio doesn't care for soccer. Axe grinding and all that."***

Ah, no. You are way, way wide of the mark there. Nowhere did I get the impression that "his feelings were hurt" because Paolantonio doesn't care for soccer. Did you actually read the article? He wrote a scathing article because Paolantonio is a jingoistic moron who disgraces the name of sports journalist by writing crap like this:

***"Go ahead, you try going to a rugby game and writing about it. Soccer? Ninety minutes of whatever and then maybe one goal scored by accident. Tough to create a coherent narrative out of that."***

This is the kind of ignorant comment I expect to see on anonymous internet message boards, not written by someone who writes about sports for a living. Seriously. The above comment is an open confession of ignorance and inability to do one's job, ie, to actually learn about the subject that one is writing about, which is what all journalists are supposed to do. For some reason, many American sports journalists think that they are exempted from this rule for reasons of "American sports patriotism", ie, stupid xenophobic jingoism. They consider it an unwritten rule of their job that they are not required to learn about something new, ever, especially if it is "foreign".

Read this carefully, and google "fourth generation warfare" if you are not familiar with the concept (I recommend William Lind's writings on the subject, which are easily available online; "The War Nerd" is also a fun read albeit the War Nerd doesn't use "fourth generation warfare" terminology). Read this and you will understand how the political and military equivalents of Paolantonio got us into the mess we are in now in Iraq, ie, Paolantonio is the sports journalist equivalent of neo-con idiots like Victor Hansen or Max Boot, who think they are "experts" but in fact are only good at twisting a bad analogy to support their ingrained prejudices:

***It gets worse. Paolantonio is the sports journalism equivalent of the saloon bar patriot who doesn't actually own a passport.

His errors are legion. He compares American football to the hoplite tactics of the ancient Greeks, and soccer to the Persian cavalry armies the Greeks defeated. In fact American football is more like the territory-hogging "linear second-generation" warfare of WWI; while fluid, flowing soccer is akin to the "non-linear fourth-generation" guerilla warfare US forces faced in Vietnam and Iraq (which is why anybody with a brain in the Pentagon is urging that US soldiers think more like soccer players and less like American footballers, meaning that American football explains nothing about modern warfare except how to lose at it).***

Absolutely f_cking spot-on. No doubt Paolantonio is one of those idiots who think that "the surge worked" and that we are "winning in Iraq". And if you believe that, my friend, I have some real estate I'd like to sell you.

posted by dave2007 at 09:05 AM on October 06

Nigerian businessmen bid for Newcastle

Lagos, Nigeria. Attention: The President/CEO

Dear Sir,

Confidential Business Proposal

Having consulted with my colleagues and based on the information gathered from the Nigerian Chambers Of Commerce And Industry, I have the privilege to request your assistance to transfer the sum of $47,500,000.00 (forty seven million, five hundred thousand United States dollars) into your accounts. The above sum resulted from an over-invoiced contract, executed, commissioned and paid for about five years (5) ago by a foreign contractor. This action was however intentional and since then the fund has been in a suspense account at The Central Bank Of Nigeria Apex Bank.

We are now ready to transfer the fund overseas and that is where you come in. It is important to inform you that as civil servants, we are forbidden to operate a foreign account; that is why we require your assistance. The total sum will be shared as follows: 70% for us, 25% for you and 5% for local and international expenses incidental to the transfer.

The transfer is risk free on both sides. I am an accountant with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). If you find this proposal acceptable, we shall require the following documents:

(a) your banker's name, telephone, account and fax numbers.

(b) your private telephone and fax numbers for confidentiality and easy communication.

(c) your letter-headed paper stamped and signed.

Alternatively we will furnish you with the text of what to type into your letter-headed paper, along with a breakdown explaining, comprehensively what we require of you. The business will take us thirty (30) working days to accomplish.

Please reply urgently.

Best regards

Howgul Abul Arhu

posted by dave2007 at 06:38 PM on September 23

Report: Brady's Injury Torn ACL

"For what it's worth, scrum is a abbreviation of the word scrummage, which is a modification of the word scrimmage, which is a derivitive of skirmish. One definition of skirmish is "a tough fight". Thus, for the announcer to say that there was a tough fight for the ball, really isn't a misuse of the word scrum. It just doesn't exactly fit the vocabulary of a rugby player."

You've got the history of the word "scrum" completely screwed up (for one thing, in football history "scrum" or "scrummage" came first, before Americans modified it to the gridiron "scrimmage" concept), which perfectly illustrates the point that tighthead was making: most Americans use the word "scrum" without having a clue what they are talking about.

Look again: tighthead explained VERY CLEARLY how American sportscasters are misusing the word - a word they clearly think they are using in the rugby sense, not in the absract "skirmish" sense you are using. If you don't understand what tighthead is talking about, again, that proves his point. The fact that you don't understand his point doesn't invalidate it.

posted by dave2007 at 02:10 AM on September 08

Gullit and Lalas gone from the Galaxy.

"I surely don't see how Cobi Jones, who has all of a half season as an assistant and zero days as head man, will produce any better results, unless he's a placeholder and AEG have written off 2008."

Cobi Jones could hardly do any worse. And AEG have probably written off 2008, although if LAG can get some kind of improvement in defense and/or defensive midfield they have the offense to make a respectable late season run and do something in the playoffs.

Really this was all very predictable to anyone following MLS for the past few years. Apparently AEG couldn't figure it out until now, though. No one was making sure the fundamentals were being taken care of; everything was focused on the quick fix and the glamor/publicity (which has also been the problem with US soccer in general).

posted by dave2007 at 11:33 AM on August 13

FootballFilter 2.0

"Hmm... Doesn't bode well when the top story on the Times section is about cricket...." Dude, it's the first day of August! We'll be up to our eyeballs in footy news soon enough.

posted by dave2007 at 06:42 PM on August 01

The Friendly Frozen Confines

They should make use of all that wasted space and play bandy instead of ice hockey. That would make for an even more interesting change of pace, plus get the fans closer to the action: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandy

posted by dave2007 at 05:18 AM on July 18

Video: Diamondbacks Catcher Chris Snyder Fractures Left Testicle

Yeah, I was going to say the exact same thing, then ended up watching the video anyway. I had no idea that testicles could "fracture". So I guess baseball catchers don't wear protective cups?

posted by dave2007 at 03:36 PM on July 03

Title IX, Curse or Blessing?

"Nothing in that article makes me think that male athletics are being unfairly neglected. So, in schools where women vastly outnumber men, men's athletics are being cut back on. Good. Put that money where it can aid a larger portion of the student body." Just because women make up more than half of the student body does not mean that more than half of the student athletes have to be women. Nor does it mean that female students WANT to participate in athletics in equal numbers as male students. This is quota-based thinking and it's precisely this kind of idiotic political correctness that needs to be stopped. How about we fund student athletics based on how many students actually want to participate instead of assuming that female students MUST participate on equal per capita numbers with male athletes? It's not the end of the world if female students choose not to participate in athletics in equal numbers with male students. Female students don't exist merely to validate the social engineering dreams of frustrated academic Marxists. If we are going to use the brute force of the federal government to meddle in college athletics, I'd much rather it do so to increase support for neglected sports which could use the help to raise the level of USA play in international competition. There are a lot of neglected sports that could use the support and doing so would also increase female participation at the same time - for instance soccer, rugby, cricket, team handball, field hockey, badminton, wrestling, etc, sports that are a big deal internationally but which (with partial exception now of soccer) get little to no help from NCAA or other academic sporting institutions. It would also be nice to get the NCAA to abide by the rules of the governing international bodies of said sports. Look what the Australians have done with their success in international sports (per capita, much more impressive than the USA in international competition). Forget this politically correct crap about getting equal numbers of female to male athletes, and get the government to encourage more amateur and international athletic competition and you'll have more opportunities for female athletes than ever. I don't think the Aussies have an equivalent of Title IX and their female athletes do fine. American amateur sports are a mess and the NCAA is a big part of the problem, but quota based, PC victims rights mentality a la Title IX is not the way to go about fixing things.

posted by dave2007 at 05:53 PM on June 30

The Decline of Commentary

Interesting. Of course I was being a bit unfair comparing baseball to cricket since the switch hitting isn't the same in both sports; in baseball the batter has to chose to stand in either the right or left handed batters box before the pitch is made, so there is a little time for the fielding team to adjust fielding positions and a little time for the pitcher to adjust his pitch. The baseball batter can't switch sides in mid-pitch.

posted by dave2007 at 09:05 AM on June 19

The Decline of Commentary

I like the Premier League commentators we can hear over in the USA on Fox Soccer Channel; they let the game "breathe" and don't seem to feel the need to talk continuously. Unfortunately American soccer commentators tend to babble too much so some American soccer fans watch the Spanish language broadcasts; somehow I doubt the Spanish commentators are really that much better, it's just that not knowing the language we aren't distracted by them. In American gridiron, the networks seem to like hiring ex-players and ex-coaches from the NFL to commentate NFL games; I won't name names but we have our share of buffoons commentating NFL games. Speaking of cricket, owlhouse, what's all this about cricket suddenly discovering the switch hitter concept? Baseball has had this since the 19th century at least, why has it taken cricket so long to think of this?

posted by dave2007 at 09:18 PM on June 18

The greatest golfer ever

NPR's Only a Game had a piece on John Montague a few weeks ago. If you check out the Only a Game website they should have a podcast of that episode.

posted by dave2007 at 07:49 PM on May 31

Canadian NHL teams mean money

We've been hearing about southern California becoming an ice hockey hotbed for the past twenty years....it still hasn't happened. It's not gonna happen.

posted by dave2007 at 08:53 PM on May 30

Fines will be imposed for clear cases of flopping:

if any professional soccer leagues have ever done anything like this The thing to remember about soccer, unlike most American sports, is that leagues do not set their own rules (as far as officiating the game is concerned): it is called the "world's game" for a reason. Everyone, everywhere, whether it be the Premier League in England or some amateur village league in central Africa, is playing by the exact same rules (ie, the Laws of the Game). Leagues don't set their own rules: FIFA does (or to be technically correct, the International Football Association Board does). The best that the various national football associations and leagues can do is to give their referees guidelines about how to interpret the Laws of the Game. Flopping/diving/simulation has always been against the rules in soccer if it is an attempt to cheat so as to gain an undeserved free kick or penalty kick. The problem is that the game is fast flowing and non-stop and there is no time to watch replays; it is therefore very rare for a ref to penalize a player for flopping; more commonly these attempts to draw a call are simply ignored by the ref unless they are extremely blatant. There have been proposals in soccer to do after-match video analysis to punish floppers, too, but there are similiar objections to this in soccer as there is in basketball. The problem has gotten worse as the game has internationalized; different countries have different cultural tolerances for flopping/diving/simulation. In Britain, North American and parts of northern Europe for instance it is very much frowned on but in Latin America or parts of southern Europe it is more likely to be accepted as "part of the game". That wasn't a big deal when the game was isolated within each country but now that you have players from all over the world playing in top leagues all over the world, you have conflicts over just how much of this sort of thing is tolerable. Soccer and basketball are quite similar in this respect in being international games. Interesting how flopping is allegedly an issue that will ensure that soccer will allegedly "never" be acceptable to Americans, yet flopping isn't an issue with basketball being acceptable to Americans.

posted by dave2007 at 06:59 PM on May 29

Seattle Sounders announce new fan association with power to vote GM off the team, thanks to Drew Carey.

This could be interesting, I'm interested to see how this works out in practice. What exactly is the job description of the general manager? I believe it isn't the same at all clubs? Drew Carey is a great guy, a real fan's fan. I'm glad he's involved with the Sounders. I hope he sets some positive precedents for MLS.

posted by dave2007 at 12:50 AM on May 22

How soccer prepares athletes for the NBA

Yeah it would help American soccer a lot if more kids would play street soccer and random pick up games when young, and leave the more rigorous coaching in team tactics until they were older. You can teach advanced tactics when they get older, but if they don't learn basic ball skills and positional sense when young, they can't be easily taught later. As for basketball pivoting, true you can't turn the same way in cleats, but besides street soccer, don't forget futsal. This is soccer played with five a side on what is basically a basketball court, with a smaller, heavier ball that doesn't bounce as much so you don't need walls like you have in indoor soccer. Go to YouTube and search for futsal to see what I mean.

posted by dave2007 at 12:31 AM on May 22

New York City Makes Cricket a Varsity Sport.

@bender: it was in Australia, where the seasons are reversed, so they must have played through the New Years holiday, 1960-61.

posted by dave2007 at 09:24 AM on May 14

New York City Makes Cricket a Varsity Sport.

Also I answered my own question about USA World Cup qualifying: http://content-www.cricinfo.com/usa/content/story/347233.html "More than a year since they were suspended from international cricket, the USA have named their side for their comeback in the ICC World Cricket League Division Five which takes place in Jersey next month. The side will be captained by Steve Messiah, who led them during their last outing in August 2006. The USA were, at that time, in the World Cricket League Division One, and were it not for the suspension imposed by the ICC they would almost certainly have been in the mix at the ICC World Cup Qualifiers next year. As it stands, they will need to win promotion from Division Five and Four and then win the Division Three event next January to be invited to the qualifying tournament for the 2011 World Cup. The event in Jersey will also feature Afghanistan, Bahamas, Botswana, Germany, Japan, Jersey, Mozambique, Nepal, Norway, Singapore and Vanuatu. The top two sides will be promoted to Division Four which will be held in September."

posted by dave2007 at 09:22 AM on May 14

New York City Makes Cricket a Varsity Sport.

Canada vs. USA: http://content-www.cricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/141170.html

posted by dave2007 at 09:16 AM on May 14

New York City Makes Cricket a Varsity Sport.

@owlhouse: The USA has to have played some kind of qualification matches besides those, though, for the ICC World Cup? Also, is it not also possible to have drawn matches in four day county matches? I was wondering why the level below international test matches was four days instead of five... And then there's the little matter of "declaring" if I am remembering the right term, to avoid a draw?

posted by dave2007 at 08:56 AM on May 14

New York City Makes Cricket a Varsity Sport.

I was thinking about mentioning the distinction in cricket between a tie and a draw, but decided that would be too much information. My fellow Americans probably think I'm weird enough for knowing this stuff as is.

posted by dave2007 at 08:52 AM on May 14

New York City Makes Cricket a Varsity Sport.

By forcing tie breakers where they are NOT needed, that is. Youtube video of Lauderhill cricket stadium: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ohPFFzdnaU

posted by dave2007 at 04:36 AM on May 14