The Least Enlightening Thing Written About the World Cup

The World Cup is a large party and, sadly, has come to an end. I wasn’t able to write as much as I would have liked due to events in my personal life (disclosure: I am not a robot), but some trends popped up. First off, I felt like we read the same story with slightly different takes over and over. Favelas! Protestors! Folks with enviable but still modest reporting budgets flew to Brazil for a few weeks, interviewed a few people, and cobbled together some stuttering attempts at long-form journalism. These were smart people with occasionally bright insights, but you can only hear the same song so many times. Furthermore, Brazil has a burgeoning middle class, excellent universities, and plenty of great academic papers on race relations, poverty, and homelessness. Who wrote Pedagogy of the Oppressed? Yes. A Brazilian.

Still, of course, a good journalist can condense an academic paper into digestible form. There’s also the foreign perspective that can allow us to see big picture issues accepted as facts of life by locals. Like, for example, a slow as molasses legal system and the impossibility of filing for bankruptcy and being done within a decade. The lack of access to credit at reasonable rates (anything over 9% is f’ing usury dawg) has squeezed the middle class when coupled with inflation, and the squatter rights laws have created a perverse incentive to never enter the formal, above ground economy for many. However, most pieces were of the “what does this tournament mean to you, the local?” variety. They felt more superficial and contrived than illuminating. There was an arms race among “journos” to find the most dangerous neighborhood and oppressed group to faux interview some cats and chill while waxing on soccer before uprooting and ignoring any meta factors. “Thank for the caiprinha, nice to meet you for 90 minutes, try not to die a grisly death before turning 25!”

Yet, for all the tiredness and unoriginality of the “I was there” prose, the least enlightening thing written this World Cup was about soccer statistics. Continue reading “The Least Enlightening Thing Written About the World Cup” »

The Short Kiss Until a Few Months Later…..

Days after the World Cup draw, in response to the US’ group, a sharp editor at the New Yorker astutely observed that “we are all in the group of death.” In case you hadn’t noticed, things have gotten quiet in these parts, odd given that I write about soccer and the whole world is paying attention to soccer. Here’s why: unlike the US team, a beloved relative has not advanced to the knockout rounds from our collective humanity’s group of death. Like a Geoff Cameron clearance, the result was shocking, sudden and unexpected. (Unlike Cameron, this person cannot be replaced by Omar Gonzalez)

I’ll be MIA for a few months. But, luckily for you, my anal ass pitched himself to some great mags and sites early, so you’ll have lots of my copy to read. Enjoy as best you can (and go US!). Continue reading “The Short Kiss Until a Few Months Later…..” »

The State of Kentucky is more sensitive to Disability Rights than Barry Petchesky of Deadspin

Brazil is kinda a shining light for advocates of the section of the community who have different abilities, referred to as “consumers” in the United States of America. (“Disabled” in regular person speak). Why? Because Brazil requires 1% of all stadiums to have accessible seating at a discount. Contrary to common belief, folks with different abilities still enjoy watching concerts and going to stadiums. Just because you were born with different abilities, such as, say, a mobility impairment, that doesn’t mean you cease to be a fan.

It also doesn’t mean you are a quadriplegic veteran of a World War who heroically lost all use of every limb after throwing himself onto a grenade to protect comrades and a nearby orphanage. It just means you have trouble walking for certain distances. But don’t try telling that to Deadspin. Continue reading “The State of Kentucky is more sensitive to Disability Rights than Barry Petchesky of Deadspin” »

Tactics Talk: Hodgson’s Overreaction Edition

I always love it when one of the top UK soccer writers turns his or her attention to the US national team. Why? Because their often unbiased and well-trained eye will point out obvious, painful truths and occasionally reasons for optimism. One of the best things we forget as US fans about US players and the US team is we give a good effort for the full 90 minutes. Coaches often complain that certain players from South American countries that will zoom in and out of games mentally, or turn off completely on defense or at the 60 minute mark. Not Yanks. Be proud.

Thus, I’ve decided to return the favor by looking at the English team as objectively as possible. Continue reading “Tactics Talk: Hodgson’s Overreaction Edition” »

Top Ten World Cup Topics That Need To Be Written About

With so many smart and funny people writing about the World Cup, you’d think there’d be no stone left unturned. Sadly, though, my brief glimpse at the internet, using the latest in AskJeeves, Lycos, and AltaVista search engine technology, found some gaping holes. There are so many interesting topics that have yet to be written about that they are too countless to name (at least all of them). These are topics that cry out for David Brooks to write 500 words about. Yet, for now, we only hear silence and read nothing.

Thus, I’ve sorted, prioritized, and compiled a list of the ten topics which we need some savvy columnist to write about. Don’t be afraid,dear potential writer – I know this is totally uncharted waters, but we’ve got your back. Please, please write these articles! Continue reading “Top Ten World Cup Topics That Need To Be Written About” »

The Awesome World Cup Preview that Does Not Preview the World Cup & Instead Looks at Transgender Athletes

World Cup! Party! Protest! Oh, wait. While the world spins its wheels on injuries, tactics, previews, and groups of death – one particular group lingers in the shadows, both of society and sport. I refer to transgendered individuals. I know that everybody with a modicum of intelligence already dislikes FIFA, but, hey, why not kick a horse while it’s down?

Basically, I looked at FIFA’s regulations and practices in regards to gender, trying to see just how things work for the transgender community. It was not pretty. Continue reading “The Awesome World Cup Preview that Does Not Preview the World Cup & Instead Looks at Transgender Athletes” »

Wall Street Journal Seriously Lowers the Bar for Soccer “Coverage”

Just when you think the trite “Soccer sucks” narrative in the US media has turned into “MLS sucks”, the Wall Street Journal lowers the bar even further. Jonathan Clegg, an Englishman, has decided that new soccer fans “are welcome”, but he derives the “soccer obsessives.” Or, rather, American soccer obsessives.

I’ll just be taking a quick look at his thesis and what’s wrong with it. Namely, everything. Continue reading “Wall Street Journal Seriously Lowers the Bar for Soccer “Coverage”” »

Slightly Outdated and Esoteric South American Soccer FactCheck

Being a fan of soccer requires a healthy knowledge of geography. Unless you are Fox Soccer Argentina. In March, the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League, was in full swing. San Lorenzo of Argentina traveled to Ecuador to play Independiente del Valle. Afterwards, some San Lorenzo players got angry and trashed the dressing room. I know, a total shocker – violence in South American soccer.  Jamas!

Things, though, were much more interesting online, where Fox Soccer had seriously trouble locating the Estadio Atahualpa. Continue reading “Slightly Outdated and Esoteric South American Soccer FactCheck” »

An Open Letter to Potential World Cup Brand Partnerships

It’s this weird thing about writing regularly about soccer and/or operating a website: every four years, my email inbox gets flooded with countless offers to synergize brands by mutually adding value and enhancing identity. Did you just understand the second half of that sentence?

I didn’t. But, I’m happy to say, I am totally 100% game to do whatever this summer. Continue reading “An Open Letter to Potential World Cup Brand Partnerships” »