Friday, June 25, 2010

Knockout remix

Ok, so stupid FIFA with their stupid copyright has blocked the first video I put up of the Donovan goal. Fascists! Don't they know that The Beautiful Game belongs to all of the world's people?

But here's an even more exciting version of the goal.

I actually had the Spanish language ESPN on for the goal due to browser problems at around the 80th minute, but even they weren't this excited. Radio takes special talent to both show and tell.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Knocking down the door to the Knockout round


What a long strange trip its been, following this team through the CONCACAF qualifying, Confed cup, and through 3 excruciating group round games. I've watched enough soccer in my life to know that we were all but dead in the water, at 0-0, about to suffer the indignity of being unbeaten and still going home early. We would have had justification to piss and moan about the refs for the next 4 years, but that's all history now. Ghana on Saturday, and only 4 wins from the hardware.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This was a man

Coach John Wooden went home tonight. There will be a ton of stories and retrospectives on his life and work, most of which will be better than mine, but I still wanted to add my short memorial.

I never got to see Wooden coach, as he had retired long before my time. I never met the man despite sharing a city with him my whole life. I never even really played the sport at which he was such an amazing talent and had unmatched success as a coach. And yet he did touch my life in some small way.

Like most who have played sports, I've read his seminal book, Wooden, and tried to glean whatever I could from it. I wish I could say that he's inspired me to be a great person and succeed both on and off the field of play, but that wouldn't be accurate. To be sure, I've tried many times to follow his advice, but I've always fallen short.

Despite this, his words stick with me. I can still quote a lot of it from memory. I read from his book when I was asked to lead prayer in school. One of my favorite passages has nothing to do with basketball, but about appreciating what you have. Wooden tells the story of a graduation at which he got a $2 bill as a present, along with the sage advice that as long as he kept that he would never be broke. Its a simple story but its always stuck with me, as has most of his advice.

At my high school graduation I gave a copy of Wooden to each of my closet friends. Who knows if they ever read them, took the messages to heart, or tossed them at the first convenience, but I'm still glad I gave them out, as I cannot imagine a better gift for a young person.

I already knew of Wooden's passing, but there was one voice I longed to hear tell it. Thankfully, we still have Vin, and as expected he was touching and poignant through the grief of the moment.

I would say Rest in Peace, but I can't imagine a more useless urging. Coach Wooden lived in peace, he'll surely rest just fine.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Badvertising: World Cup

Its almost World Cup time people!

I know that most Americans don't actually care that much about the actual biggest sporting event in the world (no apologies to the Super Bowl, as much as I love it). Despite the fact that soccer is (was?) the fastest growing sport in America and far more of our youth put on shin guards than shoulder pads, the game suffers at the spectator level. Which may seem odd considering we are undoubtedly the best spectators on the whole damn planet.

Many people blame this on things like the crowding out by other sports, the inferior product that is the MLS, or the simple fact that soccer games have no commercials (a huge oversight).

But I think the problem is pretty simple: poor marketing.

As always, Asia is way ahead of us. The South Koreans, possibly looking to psych out their evil goatee wearing twins to the North who also somehow made the World Cup (honestly, how can a nation sanctioned by every other country in the Solar System be allowed into FIFA?), have come up with probably the most amazing soccer promotion ever.

This isn't the same lame old crap like bringing over a washed up Beckham or painting a bunch of hot naked women in the flags of the participating countries. But I think all will agree that this genius move by the Koreans makes soccer a whole lot more interesting.

A distant second in the World Cup marketing department is a series of interesting and entertaining portraits featuring each participating team. The Swiss picture is my favorite.

Winning the consolation game is yet another overlong, overproduced and overawesome World Cup commercial by Nike.

Look, there's Kobe!