Landon Donovan: Life and how to live it

When it comes to Landon Donovan, I have to admit a bit of bias — one that goes beyond the typical reporter’s bias of having good interview experiences. Sure, he’s been helpful whenever I’ve talked with him, from a USA TODAY chat in 2000 (he had to delay to drive his sister to school) to a 2009 cover story in which he talked frankly about his relationships with everyone: David Beckham, Bianca Kajlich, even Eric Wynalda. He’s consistently one of the most interesting people in U.S. soccer. (Men’s soccer, especially.) My bias stems more from being able to relate to … Continue reading Landon Donovan: Life and how to live it

Building the Beckham brand, cont.

Maybe we can’t quite trust this denial of David Beckham’s interest in QPR or any other English Premier League team. “No” often isn’t the final word in transfer sagas. But given Beckham’s rumored destinations — Australia, China, the Middle East — we might need to consider that Beckham’s latest and possibly last move of his playing career is less about an on-field challenge like keeping QPR in the Premier League and more about expanding his brand one more place before he retires. Wherever he goes won’t be a permanent home. Beckham still has that MLS ownership option, and it’s tough … Continue reading Building the Beckham brand, cont.

Is a major in sports really any worse than my music major?

Should athletes have the opportunity to major in sports? Yes, argues a piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education, which recently offered yours truly a special deal for “university professionals” in a reassuring demonstration that advertisers do not know everything about you. And it’s a terrific argument. Add a psychology requirement, and players who don’t make the professional grade (which is still the vast majority of players, even at the top football and basketball schools) will be uber-qualified coaches. That’s not a bad thing. A related argument: Are “one-and-dones” making a mockery of college basketball? Should they stay at least three years … Continue reading Is a major in sports really any worse than my music major?

Women’s soccer marketing: The kids are not alright

Joanna Lohman, the women’s soccer player most likely to win The Apprentice if she could stomach being in the same room with Donald Trump, has posted a strong, well-supported argument to pitch the new women’s soccer league to people other than soccer moms. Some of the ideas aren’t new. Plenty of teams, including the Washington Freedom, have had beer gardens. WPS made a big push on social media, not the typical soccer mom hangout. And a lot of the talk around the WPS launch was that the WUSA had erred by aiming for soccer moms instead of soccer dads, who were more than happy to … Continue reading Women’s soccer marketing: The kids are not alright

MLS: Making Little Soccer players? Not yet

The Major League Soccer “State of the League” conference call was predictably professional yesterday. The reporters asked legit questions, something we still don’t quite get in MMA calls. Commissioner Don Garber spoke at length about everything, only occasionally needing correction or clarification from the sharp PR crew next to him. And the answers were mostly logical: – Expansion to the South is a great idea, but the prospective groups need stadiums. – Competition rules aren’t changing much. (Alas for my Page playoff system. We’ll break through one day.) – David Beckham was great for MLS, but the league is ready … Continue reading MLS: Making Little Soccer players? Not yet

Monday Myriad: Keep watching the skis

It was Thanksgiving weekend in the USA, which explains why most MMA circuits were quiet. But internationally, it’s prime skiing, skating and sliding time. The top stories of the weekend: 1. Lindsey Vonn had a decent weekend considering her recent hospitalization. But the U.S. Ski Team had a surprise elsewhere: At age 31, Marco Sullivan hadn’t finished in the top 10 in a World Cup race in nearly three years. Saturday in Alberta, he picked up his fourth World Cup podium. Alan Abrahamson has the story on how Sullivan kept his career alive in the offseason. 2. The U.S. women’s … Continue reading Monday Myriad: Keep watching the skis

Japan figures out paths to Grand Prix Final

Yuzuru Hanyu packs a lot of jumps into a short program. The Japanese teen’s leaping prowess gave him a world record 95.07 points in the short program at Skate America. Then he beat that this weekend in his home country with 95.32. He won the NHK Trophy and qualified for the Grand Prix Final in Sochi, the 2014 Olympic site. But he won’t have an easy time getting back there in 15 months. FOUR of the six qualifiers for the men’s Final are from Japan. Canada’s back-to-back world champion Patrick Chan is officially first, tying at 28 points (one first … Continue reading Japan figures out paths to Grand Prix Final