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As coaches, we are expected to be knowledgeable and are even compensated for our expertise. Being right is important, and it certainly feels good when players or parents ask
my advice and it works out. But, as we tell our players, mastery comes through trial and error. Therefore there’s nothing better for a coach’s development than being wrong about something, and so it may be about Sunderland.
Here’s the deal: Sunderland sat perched just above the relegation zone of the English BPL. Going down this year would mean not only the usual ignominy and gnashing of teeth but due to a one-time financial adjustment, also the irreparable loss of millions of pounds in television revenue. But they had their dream coach, one they had wooed for years — Martin O’Neill, an established pro and someone with over twenty years coaching Football League. O’Neill was awarded an OBE for services to sport in 2004. In 2002, Norwich supporters voted him into the club’s Hall of Fame.
But they had gone eight games without a win.
Millions of pounds on the line.
Their dream coach.
Millions of pounds.
O’Neill got the sack. Hired in his place was Paolo DiCanio, a former pro with a very short
coaching resume. A temperamental, emotional whack job who could give a fascist salute to the stands one day and win a FIFA Fair Play award another.
He had come from a tumultuous tenure at Swindon Town, Continue reading
A collection of video clips originally gathered for the U16 Lady Vikings
Here’s one Women’s futsal clip to provide you with some positive mental images for the season opener tomorrow.
And some inspirational thoughts. I liked it and thought you might too. See you tomorrow.
3 short clips for your enjoyment. the first two are women’s and girl’s futsal matches from Portugal. Things to look for include changing places, infrequent dribbling, keeping the ball close and scoring with combination play. Notice how the pivot (forward) sometimes holds and passes and sometimes turns and shoots.
This last one is Freestyle, not serious play but there are things to learn and copy, especially playing with the sole of the foot, behind the support leg and lifting the ball creatively. Continue reading
This article in the Chron was amusing and interesting: Baseball people have noticed the popularity of the World Cup and now there is a “me too” sort of international baseball tournament happening in the US. But, since there is no international regulatory body the like of FIFA, it kind of squeezed in around the end of MLB and the start of spring training.
The article points out something new for baseball but an everyday issue in soccer: club players participating in games for their country and risking their fitness for duty in the process. In this case the primary worry is SF Giants closer, Sergio Romo: “Romo got hit hard before giving up a two-run double to Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs first baseman, and was tagged with a 6-5 loss to Italy.
And in the process, Romo became Exhibit A for why the World Baseball Classic is not considered a great idea among the people who are responsible for winning Major League Baseball games.”
Clubs (or “teams”) want the most talented players they can find. National teams do, too. Players play for their clubs because it is their profession but most are proud to play for their nation as well; it can be the highlight of their career.
But the clubs worry about the extra games and the wear and tear on “their” players. In
soccer it is not unusual for a big club to try to stop players from going on international duty, even putting them on an injured list, from which they miraculously seem to recover just in time for Continue reading
The world of soccer paused last week when US National Men’s Team player Robbie Rogers simultaneously came out and retired, leaving many to ask when we would see the first openly gay player at that level.
I think it would take three things, and only maybe one is in play at this time.
Apart from bread dough, things do not happen overnight. Most sudden changes take place slowly. Psy released “Gangnam Style” on his sixth album. For that matter, Los del Río, of “La Macarena” fame had been working for 32 years when they “suddenly” went big.
When I think about Robbie Rogers and the gay soccer professional barrier I am reminded of other famous firsts. Jackie Robinson officially broke the Major League baseball color line, but there were many who almost did it before him. Larry Doby quickly followed in the American League, while Josh Gibson, a player in the Negro Leagues who was better than either, never made it.
Rosa Parks is a name we all know for her courageous stand against an unfair law. I don’t think any of us believes she was the first African-American to stand up to authority, or to be arrested for her refusal. Why did her decision on that day on December 1, 1955 become historic while previous conflicts did not?
This is a problem with how we teach (or learn history). On a certain date, something happened for the first time. We memorize the date, if we’re lucky and believe ourselves to be good students. But history doesn’t happen in click-shifts and tipping points. Things change imperceptibly day by day until one day something that had not happened previously occurs, and the forces that would stifle that change are not successful. I think it has to be a combination of times being right and circumstance. The three things.
The first is money.
Jackie Robinson’s first manager, Leo Durocher said: “I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin’ zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays. Continue reading
Whenever I hear of a new idea from a variety of media and people, all at the same time, it makes me think it may be an idea whose time has come.
Today’s example is the deconstruction of the college as the only institution of higher learning. In the past three days or so, I heard from Ricardo Elizalde (over beers and bloodies at the Dubliner) on the power of media in education and he gave me a way to learn about Scratch, a tool that teaches rudimentary programming — for free.
The NYT had two articles, one about how the high cost of college is preventing some older parents from retiring. The other one is about how a viable college education can be gotten for under $10,000. It won’t have a Homecoming football game but it will have the classwork.
Earlier this year I saw something about a free college online course, Critical Thinking in Global Challenges, and I enrolled. It’s just starting and only goes 5 weeks, but still.
And today Dr Margo Seltzer emailed on how “flipping the classroom” is working for the Computer Science class she teaches at Harvard. Going to a link that explains the “Flipped Classroom” explains how it is applicable to distance learning.
Something’s going on. And here’s something from tonight:
How Innovative Teachers Are Using Skype In Their Classrooms: to learn history from those who made it, to connect with politicians and authors, and other classrooms.
UPDATE: I published this on February 4; on the 26th I saw this in the HBR. Harvard is publishing a piece advising employers to disregard whether a job candidate possesses a college degree:
“In fact, I think one of the most productive things an employer could do, both for themselves and for society at large, is to stop placing so much emphasis on standard undergraduate and graduate degrees.”
“Crack cocaine is a substance that affects the brain chemistry of the user: causing euphoria, supreme confidence, loss of appetite, insomnia, alertness, increased energy, a craving for more cocaine”
We need a few studies and data. How many soccer fans, let’s say in Europe and the Americas south of the Río Grande, have played the game? And at what level? I’d have to guess almost 100% of the men who go to games have played street soccer. Fewer have played in formal leagues, whether 11 v 11, 5 v 5, futsal, or what have you. But Dutch research indicates that a 4 v 4 game has all the necessary elements to learn the big game, and it gives more touches on the ball. So it is possible when soccer fans watch a match, they take it in from the perspective of a player. Contrast that to say the NFL: how many fans have put on shoulder pads or pushed a blocking sled? Of course as kids everyone’s played catch or touch football. But I suggest that the gap between touch football and the real deal is greater than the similar soccer experience. I’d further extend that to ask how many baseball fans have tried to hit a curve ball or had to get out of the way of a fast ball under the chin. And how many NBA fans have played a full court game with six offensive plays and three defensive sets?
If it’s true that playing street soccer provides a very similar frame of reference as the full match, then the fans in the stadium and the bars understand and are experiencing many of these sensations vicariously, to a greater extent than fans of other sports. Continue reading
Football isn’t a contact sport, it’s a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport. – Duffy Daugherty.
I like to think I live in a nation where people can look at data and make intelligent decisions, especially where the health and safety of its citizens are concerned.
Of course I also like to think I look like a younger Dustin Hoffman.
I’m seeing the increasing amount of information coming in about the maiming of athletes in American Football and interested in how those who regulate and support it choose to respond. As Jacques Barzun once famously noted, “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules, and reality of the game.” But baseball has lost its place in the center of our sporting pantheon and it is now (American) Football that occupies the place of honor. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert comments by first quoting the “late Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory: “Baseball is what we were. Football is what we have become.” In other words, baseball was king when we were a smarter and purer nation. Football, on the other hand, now represents our louder, dumber and less subtle society.”
But if, as Seifert posits, we are becoming “louder, dumber and less subtle” (that may be a redundant phrase which proves his point) are we also guilty of ignorance and unwillingness to change when we see that our #1 sport may be fatally flawed? Continue reading
I am a former D-1 college varsity soccer player. I am also a former member of Mensa, a high school National Merit Semi-Finalist and holder of a Master’s degree. If you count an MBA as such. The idea that professional sport exists as a tool of government to entertain and quell the masses is not new to me. But it is one I can’t reconcile with my own experience.
Ever since Marx proclaimed that “Religion is the opiate of the masses” it has been simple to look at organized sport in the same manner. You have a team you support. Of course, as with religion, you are granted freedom to choose which one. (And, as with organized religion, if you choose not to affiliate with any option, you will draw attention to yourself.) Once a week you attend the match, usually on Sunday. You sit in the same place, surrounded by the same people, chant the usual chants, sing songs, take pleasure in the same phases of the ceremony, and then leave, somewhat fulfilled. You do not change your allegiance lightly.
“You can change your wife, your house, your car, but you can never change your team. Chairmen come and go, boards come and go, but the fans remain. They are the one true constant. I’ve just been a custodian of the Club.” — Eddie Thompson
Isn’t it interesting how soccer teams use the term “club” in their name? Continue reading
James McMurtry’s song is an anthem of American decline and blue collar job loss. He sings the suffering of honest working people at the hands of Bain-like financial analysts who can wring profit from balance sheet transactions that do not take the effect on human lives into the accounting. From this sad ballad I springboard into several areas I don’t know much about. Call it an opinion piece.
Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing, both hands free
No one’s paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget’s stretched so thin
And there’s more comin’ home from the Mideast war
We can’t make it here anymore
My dad was in the Army. In the early 70s he was discharged on a 95% mental disability after his tour in Vietnam. He had a monthly benefit check that would go pretty quickly to local businesses: the liquor store, the craft shop and finally the pet shop of all places. At the craft shop he would buy model airplane kits, the kind where all the parts are cast from plastic molds and you assemble all the pieces, paint them, and apply decals. After filling every nook in the house with fighters, bombers and such his interest turned to pet birds. The point is I suppose he had a roof, he had a check, and he was pretty crazy. When he left (something abut a restraining order) he ended up in the Veterans Domiciliary in White Plains, Oregon and spent his final days in a cheap one bedroom in nearby Medford. I don’t know if programs like his have gone away.
But besides the tragic topic how we fail our veterans, there is the question of losing jobs offshore. Whether we lost those jobs because Romney-like assholes found ways to ship them overseas and line their pockets, or was it because we forgot what our jobs really are.
I’ve never worked in a factory, but I have experience with having my job sent away. I used to work at a tech company called @Home. We had the neatest, coolest, freshest idea of the new millennium: incredibly faster Internet connectivity over a cable TV line. Founded by a wicked smart scientist, Milo Medin, all we had to do is figure out how to take a coaxial cable, make a modem for it and get it into people’s homes.
See all those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They’re just gonna set there till they rot
‘Cause there’s nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts around the square
There’s a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don’t come down here ‘less you’re looking to score
We can’t make it here anymore
Did we sell a fast Internet connection, or innovative technology “solutions”? Continue reading