Olympic sports writing: 2004-2015

Selected features and interviews, plus coverage from several Olympics: Features Dec. 1, 2015: US college sports are a factory for Olympic medalists – but for how much longer? (The Guardian) Nov. 7, 2015: Speed skating: can the US team shine after the failure of Sochi? (The Guardian) Aug. 30, 2015: Why Serena Williams, not Ronda Rousey, is the world’s most dominant female athlete (The Guardian) Aug. 12, 2015: Golf doesn’t need the Olympics, and the Olympics don’t need golf (The Guardian) Dec. 15, 2014: Break up the Olympics! (SportsMyriad) Oct. 12, 2010: Women’s Ski Jumping Tests the Grudges of Olympic Leaders (Huffington … Continue reading Olympic sports writing: 2004-2015

Are UK taxpayers subsidizing poor spending habits in the Football League?

Yes. Well, I think so. That’s the conclusion I reached after reading Chapter 7 of Ted Philipakos’ excellent forthcoming book, On Level Terms. That might not be Philipakos’ conclusion. He’s an agent and an academic who clearly has a solid grasp of the 10 cases he discusses in the book, but he plays the role of dispassionate reporter here, passing no judgment but simply summarizing these complex cases in plain English — a difficult task he does well. He starts with U.S. cases, leading off with the big one, Fraser v MLS — the players’ 1997 lawsuit against the then-new Major League … Continue reading Are UK taxpayers subsidizing poor spending habits in the Football League?

20 alternatives to YSA

Dear MLS Supporters Group, You may be a little upset that your club is getting more aggressive in its efforts to keep you from chanting “YOU SUCK, ASSHOLE!” every time the opposing keeper takes a goal kick. The argument has been going on for years, but commissioner Don Garber ratcheted up the rhetoric over the last few months, and now the Red Bulls are offering to pay fans not to say it. What started as a rather stupid drunken chant has evolved into an act of civil disobedience. “Garber can’t tell us what to do,” you might say. “We’re fans. He’s … Continue reading 20 alternatives to YSA

Cricket player aims to make soccer club farewell pay off

Ellyse Perry has represented Australia in cricket and soccer. But to play for Australia in the World Twenty20, she had to say goodbye to her soccer club, Canberra United. A few months later, she found a new club, Sydney FC. But before then, she has some business in Sri Lanka. Perry gave up six runs per over in Australia’s World Twenty20 opener as her team won handily over India.   Continue reading Cricket player aims to make soccer club farewell pay off

Pro softball playoffs: A soccer lesson?

Graham Hays passes on a quote showing the extra urgency in softball, a sport with an underdog pro league and an uphill fight to get back in the Olympics. None of us who play in this league know when our last at-bat is going to be. We don’t know when the last time we’ve ever going to play softball again is. So there wasn’t really any time to waste in the sixth inning. Did anyone sense that urgency about women’s pro soccer from the sport’s stars? Perhaps there’s no reason to feel that way — overseas leagues, the WPSL and … Continue reading Pro softball playoffs: A soccer lesson?

2012 medal projection update: Ball sports

See the original post for projections from 16 months ago; read on for the latest (which may not have changed much):

BASKETBALL

The only major international event played since the last World Championships were the men’s and women’s European tournaments. The top four men: Spain, France, Russia, Macedonia. Women: Russia, Turkey, France, Czech Republic.

FIBA also compiles rankings that reflect all the various zonal tournaments. Top men: USA, Spain, Argentina, Greece, Lithuania, big gap. Top women: USA (by a mile), Australia/Russia (tie), giant gap, Czech Republic, Spain.

Men: The USA and Spain are clearly the front-runners. After that, the picks are more difficult. France has Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and two other NBA-affiliated players, though Joakim Noah is out injured. Great Britain has two players who passed briefly through Duke — Luol Deng and Eric Boateng. But you can’t always judge by the number of NBA or former college players. Lithuania has a lot of Euroleague experience (as well as some players U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski will know from ACC play), and Russia is built around several players from perennial power CSKA Moscow.

France (ranked 12th) may be underrated, especially when you consider that France qualified for the Olympics ahead of fourth-ranked Greece. Then Nigeria knocked out Greece in the last-chance Olympic tournament, qualifying along with Russia and Lithuania.

Brazil (#13) is certainly underrated. They finished second at the Americas qualifying tournament behind host Argentina (the USA did not participate), and they usually give the USA a tough game. Argentina beat Brazil in the neutral setting of the 2010 Worlds. But on paper, Brazil’s roster is stronger, and the history is solid.

So we’re not changing. USA, Spain, Brazil

Women: A U.S. loss would be a shocker. Australia has three straight silver medals, and the Opals return roughly half of their 2008 squad, including world-class star Lauren Jackson, though several WNBA players have moved on.

Russia was far from unbeatable in the European qualifying tournament last year, barely getting past Slovakia in the opener and losing a group-stage game to Lithuania. Belarus beat them in the next round, and Britain got within three points. They woke up and stomped everyone in the knockout stages, and no one else has given any reason to doubt the rankings, the original projection or the 2008 finish. USA, Australia, Russia

Read on …

Continue reading “2012 medal projection update: Ball sports”

2012 ball sports: Yay, team! Except you folks with bats

Let’s see … I’ve done projections for archery, athletics, badminton … let’s call up the spreadsheet and see what’s next:

Baseball!

Oh … right.

Baseball and softball are gone from the Olympic program because, as we all know, it’s easier to turn an 18-hole golf course into an Olympic venue than it is to put a fence around a small part of an Olympic green and have baseball and softball games. Or something like that.

That still leaves us with a few team sports: Basketball, field hockey, soccer, handball, volleyball (beach and indoor) and water polo. (We’ll save synchronized swimming for later.)

Continue reading “2012 ball sports: Yay, team! Except you folks with bats”