Keith Strudler

Keith Strudler: The High Stakes Of An Arm Cross

Aug 24, 2016

Some people – I’d dare say most Americans – would believe that swimmer Ryan Lochte will be the most persecuted athlete in the wake of the Rio Olympic Games. For his foolish antics – and really, more for the bizarre cover-up than the crime itself – he’s lost potentially millions in sponsors, including Speedo, Ralph Lauren, and a bunch of other companies I’ve never heard of. He’ll also be the running joke of late-night TV and probably has keep his hair brown for the near future. But really, it’s not all that bad. I’d imagine he’s back in black within a few months and probably hosting another reality TV show not long thereafter. Don’t cry for Ryan Lochte, not that anyone really is.

Keith Strudler- The Cost Of Disappointment

Aug 17, 2016

By any estimation, this was a disappointing Olympics for American swimmer Missy Franklin. It could have been worse, I suppose. She wasn’t held up at gunpoint, like some of her male teammates. But for someone who four years ago was being called the female Michael Phelps, she’s not likely to confuse London with Rio. In London, Franklin won four golds at age 17, and a bunch more the next year at the World Championships. And, as we all know by now, Franklin passed on the big bucks in endorsement revenue that would have come with that so she could stay amateur and swim for a college team. Which she did – two years for the Cal Bears, where she won three NCAA Division I individual titles in 2015.

Swimming In The Spotlight

Aug 10, 2016

Outside of the Olympics, very few people in this country care much about competitive swimming. It’s a sport that largely exists in the shadows, musty natatoriums where the vast majority of spectators are related to the athletes. Hardly any Americans could name a swimmer besides Michael Phelps, and it only took him becoming perhaps the most decorated athlete in history to get there.

The Dissonance Of Olympic TV

Aug 3, 2016

There’s probably nothing new I can tell you about the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. You likely know that Olympic sailors and open water swimmers will be submerged in water that makes a port-a-potty seem like a day spa. And you may have heard that the country is essentially bankrupt, likely increasingly because of the king’s ransom paid to host these Games, which include expenditures for stadiums that may lay vacant for years to come. You might have heard about the undue security risks, which include a fairly unprecedented message from the local police that they simply cannot guarantee the safety of visitors – or as a sign held by a police official read, “welcome to hell.” You may have seen photos of unfinished or at the least extremely uncomfortable housing at the Athlete’s Village, where supposedly the world’s finest would prepare for record setting performances. There’s the fact that most of the Russians are banned from competing because of rampant drug use, and we’re not sure if those that are there are clean or not – which pretty much goes for lots of countries. And there’s Zika, the mosquito borne virus that somehow is now like the fifth most pressing issue for these Games. I’m leaving a bunch out here, like transportation and the how human body parts recently washed up on the Olympic volleyball beach. So there’s that.

Keith Strudler -The NFL’s Problem With Numbers

Jul 27, 2016

As is often said, numbers never lie. People, on the other hand, are quite adept in the art. Particularly when it comes to numbers. It’s like Mark Twain popularized, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Keith Strudler: Tom Brady And The Supreme Court

Jul 20, 2016

I hung out with a lawyer friend of mine yesterday, and I’ve come to the very obvious conclusion that we live in a litigious society. I mean, you can literally take anything or anyone to court. Some of these cases get pretty serious, and some of them less so. But just because you don’t have a case doesn’t mean you can’t try. And, if you’re crafty enough and get the right lawyer, you might just win. Or settle, since apparently hardly anything actually goes to court anymore.

Keith Strudler: Summer Basketball

Jul 13, 2016

This week my two boys, age 6 and 8, started summer league outdoor basketball in my town of Beacon. For the uninitiated, summer ball is a particular basketball pleasure, an offseason gathering for those who truly love the sport. Its lacks the structure and perhaps urgency of winter ball, the sport’s natural regular season. It’s outdoors, instructional, and really for people that see basketball as not simply a sport on the rotation, but a year round pursuit.

Keith Strudler: Durant’s Heel Turn

Jul 6, 2016

In professional wrestling, the term “heel” refers to the bad guy. The guy who plays dirty and usually hits someone with a chair. The “face,” or “baby face,” is the good guy, the hero. He’s the one we all cheer for and always does the right thing, at least by professional wrestling standards. Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the sport – and yes, I know it’s fake – is when a good guy, a “face,” turns into a bad guy. It’s called a “heel turn,” and it’s as predictable as an episode of Bar Rescue. Hulk Hogan did it, Stone Cold Steve Austin did it. If you’ve been in the square circle long enough, chances are you went from good to bad. And perhaps back again.

Keith Strudler: Turning off the Train Wreck

Jun 29, 2016

Last week I told someone I was done writing about Johnny Manziel. His story went from journalistic to voyeuristic, which is where I vowed to get off. I didn’t want to chronicle one young man’s unstoppable fall from grace, even if that’s not exactly the right term. My conviction lasted for all of a few days, as I now find myself writing again on this very bizarre topic.

Keith Strudler: The Olympic Silver Lining

Jun 22, 2016

Some people believe there’s a silver lining to everything. If you’re one of those people, which for the record I’m not, you might think this about the Russian Olympic Track and Field Team. At least they won’t get mugged at gun point in Rio, the site of the upcoming Summer Olympics. The same can’t be said for members of the Australian Paralympic Squad, two of whom did endure just that welcome from local residents that held the Aussie sailors up with a pistol. All in broad daylight, at 7:30 a.m., as onlookers passed by, like it was a common occurrence. Which right now in Rio, I’m led to believe it is.

There’s nothing more dangerous in sports, from a TV network perspective, than a live mic on the field of play. Perhaps better put, it’s a high risk/reward kind of deal. On the one hand, it can be really cool to hear what a defensive back says about an offensive scheme or a player matchup. On the other hand, it becomes pretty clear athletes use the entire dictionary on the field of play, including words you don’t learn in school – not in the classroom, anyway.

Keith Strudler: Searching For Answers In Sports

Jun 8, 2016

Perhaps the most instinctive human process is the need to know “why.” As thoughtful beings, we don’t simply accept our reality. We question it, often in vain. Whenever someone does something wrong, the first question we ask is why. Why did they do it, what made them act that way. It’s often a fool’s quest, since we frequently do things that lack reason. That’s the reality of life, which might best be summed as a series of mistakes, where each day we vow to make just a few less.

Keith Strudler: End The Sadness

Jun 1, 2016

If you’re a basketball fan, this is what you’ve been waiting for. After months of regular season, followed by another lifetime of playoffs, we’ve finally arrived at the grand finale. The end of this wonderful tale. Thursday, the NBA Finals begins, a best of seven series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the defending champion Golden State Warriors, a rematch from last year. This is the matchup we’ve all waited for, the best team in the history of the NBA, at least according to their regular season record, against perhaps the best all-around player in NBA history, if you believe that about LeBron James, as many do. It’s small ball that the Warriors play, whipping the ball around the perimeter to 3-point shooters, against star ball, which the Cavaliers practice in LeBron, and to a lesser degree Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the most current incarnation of a Big Three. It’s east vs west, San Fran vs Cleveland, and pretty much every other clichéd opposite you’d care to present. Just to put it in terms everyone can understand, both potential leads for Space Jam 2 will play in this game. That in itself should let you know how big this series really is.

Keith Strudler: Pass The Cup

May 25, 2016

Any boy who’s ever moved to a certain level in certain sports has had the unique and often uncomfortable option of wearing what’s commonly known as a cup. For the uninitiated, a cup is a hard plastic, well, cup, that fits over the male private region, strategically protecting male athletes from things like ill thrown baseballs or someone’s knee or perhaps a foot that misses its target or, and this is the worst, a low blow in boxing. It could happen in most any contact sport, from soccer to basketball to football – pretty much any place that something might end up where it shouldn’t. Being largely averse to contact and quickly gravitating towards track, I never actually wore one of these devices, which always seemed to me remnants of the dark ages. I suppose my JCC youth basketball league never got competitive enough to be concerned with shots to the groin, and make any circumcision joke you’d like. But competitive athletes in rough sports probably take more precautions.

Keith Strudler: Finding Jobs For Lawyers

May 18, 2016

I keep hearing about how there’s a glut of lawyers, and how people entering the profession can’t find jobs. I’m sure that’s true. But you’d never know it if you paid attention to international sporting events, where legal action seems as endemic as drug scandals. The two have converged in recent days as the US Justice Department is considering filing conspiracy and fraud charges against Russians involved with an exploding performance enhancing drug revelation involving Russian athletes largely around the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, where the home nation had strong interest and opportunity for artificially boosting their team’s accomplishment and resulting medal count. All this is coming to light as various Russian coaches and officials reveal what seems a wide spread and highly systematic program of doping athletes and cheating drug tests by replacing tainted samples with clean ones. It’s the big reveal of something most everyone suspected but couldn’t prove – that Russian athletes set the bar for chemically enhanced performance. That perhaps explains how Russian sports programs continued to thrive as the rest of the nation seemed to collapse around them. For those longing for the good old days of the Soviet Union, this might be just what the doctor ordered.

Keith Strudler: The NFL Show Comes To Town

May 11, 2016

Today’s Las Vegas is far more than dirty casinos and adult night clubs. There’s high end restaurants, Broadway shows, five star hotels, and even a monorail that makes Sin City look more like Disney than Sodom and Gomorrah. For those seeking good clean fun, few towns offer more than Las Vegas.

Keith Strudler: Cinderella Soccer

May 4, 2016

If you’ve listen to my commentaries for any length of time, you’re fairly aware I’m no soccer savant. I watch the World Cup, and I’m old enough to remember Pele’s American conquest. But the vast majority of my soccer is tied to six and eight year olds playing for teams named after local hair salons and restaurants and, in one of the better strategic sponsorships of all time, a lice removal business.

Keith Strudler: Deflategate Redux

Apr 27, 2016

I work in academia. So I am painfully familiar with what one might consider a longstanding disagreement. In a work environment where people might stay in a job for 40 years, it’s not unusual for arguments to linger for a decade or two.

Keith Strudler: Facing Fears

Apr 20, 2016

I have no problem admitting that I am afraid of several things. Like roller coasters, I really hate roller coasters. I’ve been on two in my life, one out of stupidity and one for a girl, and neither was a good idea. I’ve got a little fear of heights, I’m scared to death of sharks, and so on.  If you are looking for a rugged, tough, fearless man, than you need to keep looking. I wear my fears like I do everything else – with confidence.

Keith Strudler: Payton Takes On Gun Culture

Apr 13, 2016

Sean Payton is no Saint. Which is odd to say, because technically he is exactly that, the head football coach of the New Orleans Saints. Perhaps more specifically, he’s not typically accused of unusual virtue, largely because of his tie to and subsequent suspension for Bountygate, where New Orleans players earned cash for hard shots on the other team. So his voice on ethical affairs will always be held, fairly or unfairly, with a degree of skepticism.

Keith Strudler: Golden State's Quest For 73

Apr 6, 2016

There was one huge upset last night in the landscape of elite basketball. It wasn’t the women’s college national championship game, where UConn did as expected in beating Syracuse by 31 for their 11th national title and 75th straight game, all by double digits. The surprise came further west, where the also history chasing Golden State Warriors lost a regular season home game to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that’s lost exactly twice as many games as they’ve won and are simply playing until their schedule runs out next week.

Keith Strudler: The New York Times Vs The NFL

Mar 30, 2016

For all the listeners who work in academia, this NFL story is familiar. It’s not that you all research football and concussions and CTE, or at least I don’t think you do, but you’ve all heard about misleading or unethical research. It happens across the academic landscape, and, in the rare case it’s unearthed, usually results in public rebuke or punishment or, in the most egregious of cases, dismissal. But, to be fair, there’s plenty of bad research out there, and I’d guess almost all of it unintentionally so. Professors, despite our often lofty ambitions, are just like everyone else. We do good work and bad work and have good days and bad ones. So not everything that comes to manuscript is earth shattering or ground breaking, and some of it’s not even honest. Just like what happens at most every other work environment in America, big companies on down.

Keith Strudler: Fighting The Good Fight

Mar 23, 2016

If you’re a New York State resident and a fan of mixed martial arts, then yesterday was a good day. Yesterday the state assembly removed a nine year ban on the sport, allowing leagues like UFC to bring their events and their fighters to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Albany, and beyond. Yes, if you’ve always fancied boxing too civilized, or football far too restrictive, then MMA – where athletes basically attack each other until one quits or get incapacitated, will satisfy your cravings. The sport has a robust global fan base, as evidenced by sold-out stadiums and arenas for marquis events, not unlike boxing. That includes a small number of highly publicized female athletes, most notably Rhonda Rousey, who last year lost her UFC title to overwhelming underdog to Holly Holm – who by the way also lost the belt to Miesha Tate, an event that cost Holm a possible huge payday for a rematch with Rousey. But, like most sports, the revenue stream is much deeper on the men’s side, even if the salaries are far, far below the mega-dollars given to the world’s top boxers. So there’s no $400 million fight like Mayweather/Pacquiao – at least not yet.

Keith Strudler: More Davids Please

Mar 16, 2016

There is no story more universal in sports than David vs. Goliath. It is the foundation of entire bookshelves of sports movies, starting with, say, Hoosiers, and compels us to cheer for people we know nothing about, other than the fact that they’re not as good as the other people. At some events, like the US Open Tennis Tournament, the crowd nearly compels high seeded athletes to stay on the court with their top seeded opponents. It is simply an organic part of sports spectatorship. If your team isn’t in the game, root for the little guy.

Keith Strudler: Failing An Exam

Mar 9, 2016

We’ve all failed tests. It's never pleasant, but for the most part, it's a learning process. That's certainly what I told myself when my college astronomy midterm had answers akin to "the sun is hot." But that was a relatively low stakes affair, minus the impact it had on my GPA and ability to appear on the television show Cosmos. There are some failed exams that sting a little more, like say failing your driver’s exam. But you can always take that again. Then there are the tests that really matter, making failure a bit more damaging. Like say failing your qualifying exams in graduate school or failing the bar. So while failure is a learning experience, there are times when we’d all rather learn a little less.

Keith Strudler: The Promise Of A Better Tomorrow

Mar 2, 2016

I believe in evolution. And I mean that not in the political context it’s often discussed, but rather simply I believe we progress over time. You get to see this at the Museum of Natural History, when you realize the shark of a million years ago is different than the one swimming in the Pacific – although for the record I’m afraid of both. Crocodiles, house cats, monkeys – they’ll all changed with the times. And if they didn’t, they’d become extinct. Just ask the Dodo bird or the Sabre-tooth cat.

Keith Strudler: The Olympic Virus

Feb 24, 2016

If you grew up in certain humid southern parts of this country like I did, mosquitos are simply a part of daily life and culture, especially in the summer. In camp, we would measure our overnight trips by the number of bites we got. And most everyone sports a steady odor of mosquito repellant, kind of the cologne of the American south. It was annoying, and sometimes made your arms and legs look like a topographical map, but more discomfort than outright injury.

Keith Strudler: Political Football In Louisiana

Feb 17, 2016

For the citizens of Louisiana, this is not just a budget crisis. It’s truly an existential one. It’s the end of days, the apocalypse, cats and dogs living together. Because according to Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards, if the state can’t find a way to close a $940 million budget deficit, then higher education – and its solvency – is on the table. And that could mean for next season, no LSU football. That’s right, forget the prospect of cutting classes, no diplomas, and no grades assigned. Next fall, according to the highest ranking state employee, Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, the Mecca, Taj Mahal, and Wailing Wall combined, could remain empty. So instead of a mini-Mardi Gras event other Saturday, as the Tigers take on Alabama, or Ole Miss, or really anyone, Louisianans will have to find other pastimes for the Saturday morning into late night.

Keith Strudler: Let Me Help

Feb 10, 2016

Here’s the good news for NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel. No one cares anymore about how many NCAA rules he may have broken or even how bad his Cleveland Browns were this year. But to be honest, that is literally all the good news he can expect to hear.  Because pretty much the rest of the 23 year old’s life is a car crash in slow motion. For sports fans – at least those with any compassion – it’s painful to watch, but nearly impossible to look away.

Not to play too much pop psychology, but we all like to feel wanted. It’s why we date, why we fight, it’s what gets us up in the morning and sometimes keeps us up at night. Down deep inside, most all of us crave the self-worth that comes, for better or worse, from someone else.