Tag Archives: soccer
Stop And Go
People who evaluate the viability of a commute to work often error in only considering the distance. They’ll decide 10 miles is doable, 15 or 20 is not. But anybody who has commuted much at all knows it’s not that simple because an uninterrupted 15 or 20 mile drive is way better than a 10 mile one in stop-and-go traffic. Because the constant changing of speed and monitoring of space is mentally exhausting.
Which brings me to college basketball’s March Madness, one of our country’s greatest sporting events.
I watch a fair amount of television sports, but because I’m impatient, about two-thirds of that viewing is shortly after the event is over so that I can fast forward through the endless commercial breaks. Not just that, sometimes I watch basketball games and golf tournaments in “2x” speed, which is a fair bit faster than real time. I also fast forward through field goals and free throws, deducing the outcome of them from the score change. Given my advanced remote control skills, I can watch a 40 minute college basketball game in about. . . 40 minutes.
Which brings me to Saturday’s West Regional in Portland, Oregon where I watched UCLA turn up the defensive intensity against St. Mary’s in person and advance to the Sweet Sixteen Friday in Philadelphia.* It was WEIRD watching the game in very real time because of the incessant breaks in the action.
Like driving in stop-and-go traffic, the game is played in twelvish two to four minute segments. That’s because each team gets a certain number of timeouts and then there are pre-planned “television timeouts”. To add insult to injury, now soul crushing video replays of especially close officiating calls make the spectating an even greater test of patience.
How is any team supposed to sustain any momentum? And how are fans expected to stay tuned in through the millions of mind numbing commercials?
It’s enough to make someone want to watch soccer.
*I watched some other team beat some other team too.
National Greatness Reconsidered
Team USA is doing poorly in the World Cup of Basketball which is also serving as a 2020 Olympic qualifier. Even though several top NBA players chose not to play on Team USA, many US fans still assumed the team would prevail. Now they are disappointed.
The new international basketball reality, the world has closed the considerable gap the US historically had in basketball dominance, makes me wonder why the men’s US National Soccer Team is still a third or fourth tier program?
Much more importantly, why do we let our country’s athletic performances influence what we think about ourselves? At all.
It’s odd isn’t it, the way we count Olympic medals and feel a little better about ourselves, at least temporarily, when our countrymen/women excel in international competition.
Like most places, in the US we watch our teams closely and cheer them passionately, while we simultaneously incarcerate more people, childhood poverty and homelessness increases, gun violence persists, environmental regulations are undone, and loneliness and mental health challenges mount.
If we have to compete, why don’t we change the parameters? How about a World Cup of Prison Reform. The country that reduces their prison population and recidivism the most wins. The World Cup of Childhood Poverty and Homelessness. The country that moves the largest percentage of children out of poverty and reduces their homelessness population the most wins. The World Cup of Public Safety. The World Cup of Environmental Protection. The World Cup of Social Infrastructure.
Granted, those competitions won’t translate to television and will take a lot longer, but unlike the athletic ones, the outcomes will improve the long-term quality of our lives.
Wednesday Assorted Links
1. Why Financial Literacy is So Elusive.
“It is bad enough that most people are not financially literate, but the painful reality is that investor education does not work — at least not much beyond six months. After that, it is like any other abstract subject taught in a classroom, mostly forgotten. . . .
Not that this has stopped states from mandating financial literacy for high schoolers. The Washington Post reported last week that financial-literacy classes are mandated by 19 states in order to graduate from high school, up from 13 states eight years ago. This is well-meaning, but without a radical break from how financial literacy is taught, it is destined to be ineffective.
Why? There are a number of reasons: The subject is abstract and can be complex; specific skills deteriorate fairly soon after graduation from high school; the rote memorization and teach-to-the-test approach used so much in American schools is ineffective for this sort of knowledge.”
2. Japanese office chair racing. Hell yes.
3. Remembering the runner who never gave up.
4. Six places in Europe offering shelter from the crowds.
5. What ever happened to Freddy Adu?
The heart of the matter:
“When he wasn’t scoring, he wasn’t doing much of anything. ‘He saw himself as the luxury player, the skill player,’ Wynalda said. ‘Give me the ball and I’ll make something happen.’ ‘OK, I screwed up, give it to me again.’ ‘OK, again. Just keep giving it to me.’ And eventually it’s like, ‘You know what? I’m going to give it to some other guy.'”
6A. The Surreal End of an American College.
6B. The Anti-College is on the Rise.
. . . a revolt against treating the student as a future wage-earner.
Youth Fitness Should Trump Athletic Competition
“Combined participation in the four most-popular U.S. team sports—basketball, soccer, baseball and football—fell among boys and girls aged 6 through 17 by roughly 4% from 2008 to 2012.” [Wall Street Journal]
Docs and others are worried because “It is much more likely that someone who is active in their childhood is going to remain active into their adulthood.”
Forgotten in this discussion is the fact that there are lots of ways to be active. When it comes to youth, we focus far too narrowly on athletic competition at the expense of fitness.
One common theory for the decline is that social networking, videogames and other technology are drawing children away from sports. And of course football faces a more specific challenge, “growing concern that concussions and other contact injuries can cause lasting physical damage.” The Journal speculates on other causes including increasing costs of participation to excessive pressure on kids in youth sports to cuts in school physical-education programs.
I was intrigued by one student’s story in the article:
Fifteen-year-old Jessica Cronin is the daughter of a former three-sport high-school athlete. But Jessica doesn’t participate in high-school sports, choosing to spend her time outside of class volunteering in her community and going to her temple youth group each Wednesday. “I considered doing track, but it takes up so much time,” said Ms. Cronin, a sophomore at Bethlehem Central High School in Delmar, N.Y.
Since most fifteen year-olds can run 6-7 miles in an hour, I suspect Jessica prefers her community service and youth group activities because they’re based on cooperation more than competition. Most young athletes don’t care about winning as much as their coaches. They’re not anti-competition per se, they just can’t relate to, and therefore resent, many of their coaches “win at all costs” approach.
That’s why a lot of young people gravitate to alternative sports like ultimate frisbee and alternative activities like skateboarding.
Survey youth basketball, soccer, baseball and football coaches about what’s most important to them and their athletes long-term health probably won’t make the list. Too many youth coaches are fixated on scoreboards and win-loss records. School principals, athletic directors, and parents aren’t doing enough to train, hire, and reward coaches who think about team sports as a context for healthier living.
Switching from a competitive team sport orientation to a fitness one should start with wider, better lit roads with generous sidewalks so that most young people can walk, bike, blade, skateboard, or run to and from school. Next physical education classes should emphasize life long activities including walking, running, yoga, swimming, and related activities. Students should be encouraged to compete against their younger selves to walk, run, cycle, and swim farther faster.
When fitness trumps athletic competition physical education classes and team sport practices will be more fun than video games. There should be little to no standing around. I have fond memories of some high school water polo practices where our conditioning consisted of a crazy obstacle course that culminated with a celebratory jump off the three meter board. We improved on the coach’s design by firing balls at one another mid-air. Granted a nose was broken and that was in the Pleistocene Era before the first lawyer emerged from the primordial ooze. Practices would be shorter because the emphasis would be on quality of activity more than quantity.
Who is with me?
World Cup Notes
• I’m a casual football fan who shamelessly jumps on the World Cup bandwagon every four years. I am not a connoisseur, but after watching it in slow motion a few times, that disallowed goal at the end of U.S. v Slovenia was a terrible, terrible call. But the one thing I dislike more than missed calls, is people who complain about poor officiating. I didn’t see the first 67 minutes. There may have been blown calls that benefited the U.S. Human error is part of the game, deal with it. So, terrible call and points off for me for dwelling on it.
• Why do women always feel sorry for whomever is behind? After the second tying U.S. goal. “Oh no, it looks like the Slovenian fans are crying.” Note to self: teach daughters that whenever you have your foot on your opponent’s throat apply PRESSURE.
• Notice the coaches down jackets? Nice that there’s somewhere colder than Olympia, WA. Of course it is late Autumn in South Africa. It hasn’t reached 75 in this area yet this year. The previous “latest 75 degree” date was June 9th. The high temp on the 10 day forecast. . . 68. High 50’s this weekend. Apparently, summer has been cancelled. Is Rush Limbaugh right, is global warming a crock?
• Why do people complain about things they can’t change? Like the weather.