Five months to go, Falcon fans…
In the world of international football, clubs are constantly in competition. The national pyramid and structure ensures competition is always high, from the top to the bottom, with qualification in international competition, promotion, and relegation driving the desire to succeed. It’s the perfect way to keep teams from proverbially tanking each season, as they do in some leagues in other sports, in hopes of obtaining the can’t-miss prospect or player.
Each area of a league’s table provides an area for a financial windfall or pitfall. Teams relegated lose out on massive monies from their respective place in the pyramid, and it represents a very-real threat that if they falter, they might end up bankrupt, in administration, or worse. Promoted teams, then, secure themselves better finances, which can lead towards a heightened ability to buy publicity, whether it be through marketing efforts, transfers, or investment through development.
In terms of the international competitions, qualification in something like the UEFA Champions League can also present itself with major money. Success at that level, to be considered among the elite, gives a team a chance to reap major benefits, keep itself replenished, with eyes on continued success. The ability to win gives a team the ability to be extremely wealthy, and, in association football, the rich often times are the most successful.
So it’s no shocker, then, when someone tries whatever method they can to they can gain an upper hand. It fits the old adage – “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.” Teams forever try to gain an upper hand somehow, try to keep themselves at the top, not let their position get threatened by others who desperately want that same position. The ones at the top will do anything to stay there, while others will do anything to replace them.
It really takes a certain type of human being to stain an impeccable on-the-field legacy with off-the-field transgressions. It takes something completely special, something that’s rare or never been done before, something that can overshadow years upon years of accomplishments.
Joe Paterno is the most glaring example of a stained legacy. In one week’s time, Paterno went from the greatest coach in college football history to fired and under fire for the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. Within months, he died, and his legacy, forever, was tainted. Rae Carruth and Adam Jones are more prime examples, having undone potentially great pro football careers with off-the-field indisgressions.
There are others who’ve done things after their playing careers are over to stain their on-field legacies. Players who went completely bankrupt, made bad investments, ended up out on their luck. All of this plays into their legacy in the public view because it’s the next chapter in their book. It’d be great to sit back and say how the book ends with the touchdown to win the Super Bowl, the last World Series, or the retirement announcement in front of smiling, adoring media. But the fact remains that after they step away, athletes remain in the public eye, and the book keeps on writing itself even if they don’t want it to.
That leads us to Curt Schilling. Schilling as a player had both a notorious and infamous reputation. He was a bulldog, a big game pitcher, someone who took the mound with the flair for the moment unlike any other potentially in history. Schilling was the alpha dog even when injured; he might not have had anything on his pitches, but he could reach back for a vintage performance and gut through six or seven innings to put his team in a position to win a game.
Throughout his career, he was known for his meticulous notes, his study of the game, his tireless attention to detail and preparation. He was also known, from time to time, as a blowhard, someone who enjoyed riling up media members with soundbites about current teammates and others. He had an opinion about everything, whether it was popular or not, and he let his feelings known every single day.
When Schilling retired, fans and media members alike put him in the top echelon of pitcher because of his on-field legend. They made footnotes of how he was a pain in the you-know-what to deal with, accepting it as part of the package that came with his ability to lead by example. He was the perfect alpha dog for a major media market, the perfect player to come in and lead Boston to its first World Series in 86 years.
If Curt Schilling did nothing else for the rest of his days, the book would write itself with how he lived on as Curt Schilling – the man who broke the Curse of the Bambino. He’d remain a local legend, make his appearances on talk radio, and he’d be a character of the ghosts of Red Sox past. Instead, Schilling, a known video game enthusiast, decided to bankroll a studio and run a business with the intention of conquering the video game industry.
I don’t get it.
Maybe I missed the boat somewhere on the argument about race, religion, homosexuality, and prejudice. Maybe I grew up in a different era. Maybe I just don’t care.
I don’t get how a person’s race, sexual orientation, religious belief, or pretty much anything else can have a negative effect on someone’s ability to play a game and be a teammate. I don’t get why it’s a big deal, and I don’t get why we have to make everything about the color of someone’s skin or who someone chooses or doesn’t choose to date.
I just don’t understand it.
It’s very strange how the media and blogosphere operate. The blogosphere is embracing the idea of a former American League MVP, making it big news. The major media has it shuffled somewhere behind if Josh Beckett‘s golf game is going to ever be fixed, the Boston Celtics’ run through the playoffs, and the potentially long-overdue high school tournament coverage as lacrosse and baseball get fired up to crown state champions.
On slow news days, there’s the occasional interview, but, by and large, the major media outlets view this whole publicity stunt for what it is. It’s the same as Bill Lee or Oil Can Boyd pitching for the Brockton Rox, and it’s no different than the different crazy promotions the different independent league teams run in order to sell tickets. It’s a sales ploy, and it’s a way for both parties to cash in on publicity.
Jose Canseco, the MVP of the 1988 American League season, the first man to ever hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same game, will play out the season as a member of the Worcester Tornadoes in the independent minor league Can-Am League. It’s bizarre, and it’s intriguing. It’s stupid, but we all kind of want to watch. And it’s lighting up blogs, while major media outlets choose to, essentially, ignore it.
For all its drama during its regular season about readyness and preparation due to the lockout, the National Basketball Association is finding itself in the midst of what might be its most fundamentally-sound postseason. Teams willing to sacrifice for the good of the team, playing sound, safe basketball are winning, and teams based around an individual are floundering.
It harkens back to a lost era of basketball, one where familiarity with teammates is more of a tool to success than overall natural talent. And although one singular team built on individual overall talent without chemistry is very much alive, basketball fans everywhere are tuning into postseason games where flow matters and is often times the difference between winning and losing.
Fresh off his team’s 16-win season, Bentley Falcon head coach Ryan Soderquist has plenty of reason to be optimistic. His squad disembarked from their school year with huge amounts of success, no longer a struggling program swimming against the tide. They’re now one of Atlantic Hockey’s hidden jewels, a team on the rise. But with their newfound success comes new challenges.
We got the chance to talk with Coach Soderquist about some of the team’s offseason developments:
They call it “the beautiful game,” and they are wrong.
It’s not beautiful. It’s not a game of precision and flow. There’s nothing fluid about it. It might be the world’s most popular game, but it’s terrible. I’ll never forgive myself for spending hours upon hours of watching soccer, watching associations, spending hours in front of a television to watch the world’s best ply their trade.
To imply it’s beautiful is to imply that you’ll watch it and be reduced to smiles and tears. You’ll watch, and it’ll calm your fears, ease your soul, and give you something worth watching over and over. You’ll be in a serene place, a place where few people go, a place resembling a Buddhist nirvana. If it’s truly beautiful, you’ll go there.
No. Soccer, or association football, or whatever you want to call it – it’s not beautiful. It’s far better than that.
Anyone who knows me knows I started this website for a couple of major reasons:
1) I’m a terrible employee when it comes to journalism, and to an extent, I’m almost positive I was born to really be my own boss at stuff like this.
2) In what was my fourth season working Bentley Falcons hockey, there really was no press coverage, and I needed a vehicle from which I could drive coverage of a team really deserving it. I covered this in an article back during hockey season.
There was still a third reason I’ve tried to find a use for, and I’ve failed miserably at. Given my personal experiences with cancer and my personal connection to people who’ve suffered from the insidious disease, I’d taken it upon myself to try and highlight stories reflecting cancer patients and survivors. I kind of considered it my own crusade since I rarely got the chance to do a Relay For Life, Breast Cancer Three-Day, or anything else.
For years, I’d never been able to really be a “causehead.” A “causehead” is someone who takes up a cause and drives it home every minute of their life. They work and work for that cause, dedicated to the message, delivering something everyone can get behind. They’re political, activist, whatever. You can be a causehead realistically for anything you’re really passionate about. For me, it’s always been about finding a cure for cancer.
The irony of this post is that before I even started writing this posting, I had nearly 1,000 words completed about how no matter what happened this year, there was a positive to take away from it. If the Red Sox collapsed on themselves, lost games, finished so far out of the race that they lost complete relevance by August, it didn’t matter. The emergence of Will Middlebrooks did enough to energize hope. Maybe, just maybe, I thought, a light shone at the end of the dark tunnel of the 2012 Boston Red Sox.
I figured Middlebrooks would cool off, slow down his torrid pace, and eventually either end up on the bench or back in the minors for a short stint later this year. I didn’t think he would keep up his Herculean pace, and I didn’t consider him the savior of the franchise, even though his two-game offensive output was the brightest spot of the bleakest year in years. I figured he’d be a full-time player next year, really emerge by 2014, and be a perennial All-Star by 2015 in caliber. I didn’t think the breakout would last all year long, even though I did say it would spell the end ofKevin Youkilis by July.
Of course that was before Middlebrooks pulled his hamstring.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Boston Red Sox.
The Excalibur Sports Page is proud to announce a cobranding with Exclusively NEP for the upcoming summer of 2012 and 2012-2013 academic year for its Excalibur Sports Network.
In a statement released on Friday, the eXc CEO and editor-in-chief Dan Rubin said the following:
“It is a true honor and pleasure that I announce a partnership between the Excalibur Sports Page and Exclusively NEP. Exclusively NEP is one of Boston’s finest event planning and promotions companies, and it brings me pride and joy to cobrand the Excalibur Sports Page brand with this prestigious and professional company.
Our partnership will begin with the upcoming summer and academic school year for sponsorship on podcasts and selected interviews. This is to maintain the independence of our broadcasts and brand from the institutions of which we have worked with. It also ensures that Exclusively NEP is utilizing the Excalibur brand towards its portfolio of event planning and promotional considerations.
I have a relationship with Exclusively NEP’s CEO, David Branca, dating back over the past several years. I can say, first hand, that he is, without a doubt, one of the best promoters anybody can deal with in the city of Boston and its surrounding areas. From start to finish, he leaves no stone unturned, and his passion for his work is evident through every event, both during the day and in New England’s night life. There was never a doubt that I would link up with his new venture, given his high quality of output and his ability to relate with consumers and clients.
I look forward to many years of partnership with Exclusively NEP as both our networks and footprints grow into the future. In keeping in line with our theme of glory and honor awaiting all who seek it, we now have an ally to promote perseverance and hard work.”
For more information about Exclusively NEP, visit their website at exclusivelynep.com.
It takes a special kind of event to rock the sports world. The term “special” can refer to anything that is memorable, momentous, and transcendent. They’re the moments rising above the sports world, when we realize just how precious that moment is, a sense in time remembered forever. They’re the good moments, with the thrill of victory and exultation of success, and they’re the bad moments, with the agony of defeat and the emotional emptiness of failure.
There are feelings someone can never stop feeling whenever they hear about the event; that’s what makes it special. You’ll never forget where you were when it happened, and it imprints on your memory forever. On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, one of those moments happened. Junior Seau, the future Hall of Fame linebacker who spent years defining the San Diego Chargers organization, who revitalized his career with the Miami Dolphins, who became the backbone of a “team” mentality in his later years with the New England Patriots, died in an apparent suicide in California.
This moment is memorable and special because Seau transcended the game of football. His character and attitude in locker rooms made him one of those athletes who was never really hated by any fan base. He’s a guy nobody wanted to see on the defensive side of the ball, but he’s a guy everyone wanted on their team. His affable nature with the media, his smile, and his overall positive attitude combined with a ferocious on-field mentality to make him one of the all-time greats of football. His legacy on the field can never be touched because of what he gave, for so many years, to so many people.
But this moment is special in a sense of being both alarming and distressing. For the past few years, we’ve heard of the toll football takes on veterans’ bodies. We’ve seen the stories of guys broken down after years, suffering from depression, suffering from headaches, suffering from the after-effects of too many misdiagnosed and undiagnosed concussions. We’ve seen documentaries, and we’ve heard the debate. We’ve debated it ourselves. But now we’ve watched one of the all-time greats leave this world and exit this physical life, and we don’t really know why. And that, in and of itself, is the issue.
There are but a few franchises considered the “flagship” of Major League Soccer. In the decade and a half since its inception, with expansion and foldings, the little league that once struggled to stay afloat is expanding and, to an extent, booming. With 19 teams, an expanding fan base, and an audience stretching from British Columbia to Quebec and south to Texas, those that got in at ground level are, for lack of a better term, the forefathers of the once-nonexistant North American soccer pyramid.
There’s no doubting who those teams are, either. DC United, with its league-leading four championships; the New York Red Bulls (formerly the NY/NJ Metrostars), in the largest media market; the Los Angeles Galaxy, with its international star power of Landon Donovan and David Beckham, solid soccer market of southern California, and recent run of success; and the Columbus Crew, the team that opened the first soccer-specific stadium built in the United States during this second era of professional association football.
There are others, of course, like the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas. But those organizations have rebranded themselves, with Dallas originating as the Dallas Burn and the Quakes originating as the San Jose Clash. And there’s Sporting Kansas City, formerly the Kansas City Wizards (or the “Wiz”), who’ve rebranded themselves in the same fashion as FC Dallas, trying to identify with the European method of team naming.
Of all the original franchises in MLS, all have either distinguished themselves by winning or by branding. They’ve changed names to make them unique; they’ve changed color schemes and logos to make themselves mainstream at the same time. Most have soccer-specific stadiums.
All of these have done something with one exception – the New England Revolution. As the MLS’s representative to the New England area, the Revs are typified by the third-most championship game appearances in the league. They’ve gone to Superliga championships, and they’ve been able to produce and encapsulate some players from national teams around the world, including the United States.
Yet the Revolution still suffer from low attendance and low interest. Fueled by a poor marketing scheme, they are now mired in the lower-echelon of the MLS standings, in danger of falling behind some of the other franchises who’ve positioned themselves with smarter, better strategies. And now they face the danger of becoming a mediocre team and an afterthought in a league that could leave them behind.