Keith Strudler

Keith Strudler: The Future’s (Not) So Bright

Oct 18, 2017

There is nothing better than the future. It's bright, exciting, and assumes limitless potential.  No matter the challenge of the moment, the future always allows for unbridled optimism. In many cases, we live our life with that expectation, delaying instant gratification for the promise of tomorrow. For example, we don't buy sports cars we want today so we can have a lovely retirement. It's part of the DNA of raising kids. Almost every assignment we give our youth leads towards some attainable future goal. Take that away, and no child may ever take a calculus class ever again, much less clean their room.

Keith Strudler: Apologize For What?

Oct 11, 2017

Here’s the thing about apologies. They’re not always genuine. A lot of times we apologize for reasons other than complete remorse. Like say you have kids, and you tell one kid he can’t play with his tablet until he apologizes for putting his dirty soccer cleats on his brother’s lap the whole car ride home from the game. That’s an apology of convenience, and bad parenting.  But regardless, apologies aren’t always truly authentic, but perhaps also self-serving.

Keith Strudler: Running With The Boys

Oct 4, 2017

Perhaps the most painful athletic experience of my life came throughout college track in something called interval work, where we’d run a set of repeats of a certain distance – say, 400 or 800 meters – and do it over and over again at an uncomfortable pace. That usually ended with most of us lying down on the track in some kind of listless agony before we went out to jog a few miles to “cool down.” Such is the virtue of youth.

Keith Strudler: Sports And The Feds

Sep 27, 2017

This is a story about the federal government getting involved in sports. It’s about using massive power and influence against some of the biggest names and institutions in the game. It will outrage fans and perhaps even cost people their jobs.

9/25/17 Panel

Sep 25, 2017

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Political Consultant Libby Post, Communications Consultant Theresa Bourgeois, Albany County District Attorney David Soares, and Director of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University, Keith Strudler. 

Keith Strudler: Football And The Power Of Parenthood

Sep 20, 2017

A couple of days ago, someone asked me if I had heard about a new study coming out of Boston University about kids and football. Now I’ve seen the past studies out of BU that tie football and concussions and CTE – including the most recent that showed some 110 of 111 brains from former NFL athletes having signs of the disease. But this study isn’t about former NFL athletes. It’s not about college football players, or even high school football, when admittedly the game gets a quite a bit more physical.

Keith Strudler: The Cheap Seats

Sep 13, 2017

If you live in Los Angeles and didn’t get a chance to see a live NFL football game last weekend, that is on you. That’s because there were at least 30,000 vacant seats at the Los Angeles Rams home opener on Sunday, where they dismantled the Indianapolis Colts 49-6 in the debut of 31-year-old wunderkind head coach Sean McVay, who’s seems like he should still be doing an internship with the front office. The crowd was estimated at 61,000, which feels just a little like the White House’s estimated attendance at the Presidential inauguration, minus the self-righteous indignation. The Rams currently play in the cavernous Los Angeles Coliseum, the building best known for housing the 1984 Olympics, a space that comfortably holds over 90,000, although the term comfort should be used with great discretion in reference to that facility.

Keith Strudler: Stealing Signs

Sep 6, 2017

Here’s the least surprising thing you’ll hear today. A sports team from Boston was caught cheating. Here’s the second least surprising thing. The victim of their crime was a team from New York. Now perhaps one surprise is that the accused isn’t the Patriots. But otherwise, this is about as surprising a sunrise.

Keith Strudler: Houston Sports

Aug 30, 2017

It will be but a distant footnote in the epic novel that is Hurricane Harvey, but high school football fans will not be able to watch the opening week slug fest between Katy and Austin Westlake originally scheduled for this Friday night. 

Keith Strudler: Making Roger Goodell Money

Aug 23, 2017

The average NFL playing career is about three years. So after all the sacrifice of making a team, from pee-wee to college ball, after giving all your waking ambitions to this singular goal and basically winning the athletic lottery, you still get on average about three years. Which means half get less. It’s more like temp work than permanent employment. And most of these short-term hires earn at or near the league minimum, which is around a half a million a year for entry-level athletes that aren’t early round draft picks. That may sound like a lot of money to the rest of us – and it is – but it’s not what we normally assume about professional football players, most of whom are not Tom Brady or Dez Bryant. Which, among other reasons, is why so many former NFL athletes end up struggling with finances years after retirement, something that happens at around age 25.

Dr. Keith Strudler
Montclair State University

We’re going to talk now with a familiar voice on WAMC for more than a decade: sports commentator Keith Strudler. Each Wednesday afternoon, Strudler has weighed in on the intersection of sports and society, tackling everything from the NFL’s concussion crisis to the corruption of youth sports. With a PhD in Mass Communication from the University of Florida, Strudler founded the Center for Sports Communication at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. This fall, he’s starting a new job as the Director of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Don’t worry: he’s staying on as WAMC’s sports commentator. But we wanted to catch up about the job and the world of sports in the meantime.

Keith Strudler: Both Sides

Aug 16, 2017

The other side. That phrase, or a variant thereof, has gotten an unusual amount of play in the past several days. We’ve been told, by the President, no less, to look at both sides when assessing blame. Most every mediator or manager wants to hear both sides before making a decision. No matter your posture or position, it seems there’s always the other side to consider, even if it sometimes seems intuitively one-sided. Like the world is round. Or ice cream is delicious.

Keith Strudler: The Wrong Finger

Aug 9, 2017

As it’s said, a picture can be worth 1000 words. I’m not entirely sure we’d need that verbosity to understand the intent of a photograph posted on the social media site Snapchat last week by the Atlee Little League Softball team. This group of 12-15 year olds had just advanced to the Junior League World Series by beating a team from Kirkland, Washington, who was hosting the tournament. The game was allegedly feisty and ended 1-0, which was something of a contrast to Atlee’s blowout wins up to this point. In fact, their run total to date had been 29-1, which, among other things, made for some pretty unwatchable softball.

Keith Strudler: Olympic Planning

Aug 2, 2017
Olympic rings

Every now and then, I get into an argument with my mom about vacation planning. It’s usually because she wants to plan a trip a year in advance, and I have a hard time seeing past lunchtime. For a whole lot of reasons – two of them being my children – I’m not really good at long range personal planning. In other words, I barely know what I’m doing next week, much less next year.

Keith Strudler: 110 Of 111

Jul 26, 2017

You know how they say that knowledge is power. In some cases that’s true. Like if you know the winning numbers to the lottery, that’s powerful information. Which makes knowledge a valuable commodity. But sometimes, it’s not. Which means sometimes, you don’t want to know everything. That might be for plausible deniability, which, let’s say, could keep you out of jail. Our out of divorce court. That’s why some things are on a need-to-know basis. But the real issue with knowledge isn’t just that it can get you in trouble. It’s that once you know something, especially something bad, now you have to do something about it. It’s part of the cognitive dissonance thing, meaning it’s hard to manage inconsistent ideas.

Keith Strudler: The Politics Of Hair

Jul 19, 2017

If you’re like me, you spent a good amount of your late youth arguing with your parents about your hair. For me, it was one of a select few moments of protest, since I wasn’t really cool or sophisticated enough to break any real rules. But, I did like to challenge the barber shop to make my hair look more like something from the Muppet Show than GQ. Eventually, in college, I invested in my own pair of hair clippers and lived by the mantra that it will always grow back. I also seemed to think that having cool hair would make my band more popular, or at least more popular than if people simply focused exclusively on what they were hearing. Such led me down the exhaustive road of an extensive hair gel collection, fabric hair bands, and once even an experiment with orange hair dye – which I immediately regretted.

Keith Strudler: Finding The Longhorn Beach

Jul 12, 2017

When it comes to big time college sports, there is no shortage of irony and hypocrisy. So this story is neither isolated nor surprising. But at the least, it is explicatory. This is another story about major college football – its excess, its priority, its oblivion. It’s a story about an American pastime that can’t escape its own ambition. And one of poor judgement mixed with tunnel vision.

Keith Strudler: Elliot’s Bike Wreck

Jul 5, 2017

Last week I ended up at one of those after-hours pediatric offices. My 7-year-old Elliot took a nasty spill off his bike and ended up with cuts from his knee to his face, all of which were immediately bandaged. But around bedtime that evening, when we were changing the gauze, the scrape on Elliot’s knee looked a little too deep. I know that because I nearly passed out when I took a close look. So being the good father that I am, and looking for an excuse to take someone out for ice cream, off we went to pediatricians after dark.

Keith Strudler: Battle Of The Sexes, Part II

Jun 28, 2017

It was well over 40 years ago that Billy Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in a tennis match played in the cathedral of har tru, the Houston Astrodome. This event was billed as the Battle of the Sexes and placed a staunch advocate for fair if not equal recognition for women’s sports against an articulated male chauvinist. To some spectators, and there were many, this match would let us know if women can compete against men in sports, where they were largely relegated to the sidelines. Of course, this was far more complex than that, given the age disparity and showmanship of the affair. Regardless, King’s victory was important in furthering the progress of female athletes. Maybe better put, a loss would have been catastrophic, with a top female tennis pro losing to an againg male has-been, someone that couldn’t even stay on the court with current male pros.

Keith Strudler: NBA Draft Champions

Jun 21, 2017

Thursday is the NBA draft. You may or may not have known this, based on both your geography and relative interest in the sport. The draft isn’t for casual fans, those who enjoy the sport on occasion or perhaps when the games matter most – like the playoffs. The draft, for the NBA or any other sport, is for people who care how the sausage is made. It’s like people who watch CSPAN to see the party whip in action before a vote.

Keith Strudler: Grade School To College Football

Jun 14, 2017

Want to know what three numbers make most parents sick to the stomach? 5. 2. 9. That 529, the college account where families aspire to store away their extra change in the fading hope they might be able to pay for some small part of their kids’ college education. Granted, it’s a little like trying to climb Mount Everest. You can’t really make it a little a time, and you might just die trying. So, lots of families look for other ways to fund a college education.

Keith Strudler: Our Global Sports Neighbors

Jun 7, 2017

The US may have a new focus on nationalism. But it seems Canada may not. At least not Canadian hockey, which, if you know the country, is essentially one and the same. While Americans look for new and innovative ways to close our borders, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League is extending theirs – all the way to China. Beginning next season, Beijing’s Kunlun Red Star hockey club will join this Canadian sports organization, bringing the total number of teams to five. Three of those teams are in Canada, not surprisingly, and the other is in Boston. So I suppose this isn’t the league’s first foray into global markets, if the US is deemed that.

Keith Strudler: Pulling Punches

May 31, 2017

Weather permitting, today my 7 year old son Elliot will have his debut performance on the pitching mound in Little League Baseball. I’m not exactly sure what to expect, other than what I expect when I watch any baseball game of 7 and 8 year olds – a lot walks and dropped fly balls. He practiced pitching quite a bit yesterday – and by quite a bit, I mean like 15 minutes – and is pretty excited to have the spotlight. So excited he’s decided to skip today’s soccer game to play baseball instead, which, if you’re current on youth sports, is not a typical decision.

Keith Strudler: The Downside Of Being Happy

May 24, 2017

NFL athletes, you can now celebrate. I mean literally, you’re allowed to celebrate now. The NFL has just changed the rules that have shackled players for too long, rules that have made scoring a touchdown feel too much like touring a cemetery. Prior to this momentous rules change, players who scored a touchdown could not have choreographed, excessive, or prolonged celebrations. They also couldn’t spike or spin the ball, fall to the ground, or use any props – the ball or otherwise.

Keith Strudler: The French Open Rules

May 17, 2017

If you believe the common vernacular that star athletes get everything they want, and no ever says “no” to them, you should talk to tennis star Maria Sharapova. She wouldn’t agree with this at all.

Keith Strudler: Travel Soccer

May 10, 2017

So I’m going to say two of the dirtiest words in the history of the American version of the English language. Travel soccer. If you’ve ever so much as sat in a minivan before, those words make you curl up in a fetal position. It’s like saying tax audit or prostate exam. They’re scary because they’re real.

Keith Strudler: Rooting For Isaiah

May 3, 2017

It is hard not to root for Isaiah Thomas right now. I’m speaking of the younger Isaiah, the one that plays guard for the Boston Celtics, not the one that led the Knicks into a theme park like free fall. Let’s start with the fact that he’s managed to become an all-star despite his 5’9” frame. Having actually met him once and also standing 5’9”, I can attest to his stature. We were literally eye-to-eye. He looked like a college intramural player. So for that alone, he’s a fan favorite.

Keith Strudler: Humanizing Tiger Woods

Apr 26, 2017

Perhaps Tiger Woods isn’t that different from all of us. According to his agent Leigh Steinberg, Woods simply wants to be pain free, play with his kids, and go out in the backyard to have fun with his friends. He also said something about wanting to enjoy his boat, which probably creates some distance between us common folk. To achieve a pain free life, Woods just had back surgery, fusion surgery to be specific, to end back spasms and ongoing pain, which can be problematic for someone who makes his living twisting his body to propel a golf ball hundreds of yards at a time.

Keith Strudler: Joe Mixon’s Descent

Apr 20, 2017

Joe Mixon is a likely third round pick hiding in a first round body. Or perhaps he’s a no round pick. What I mean is, Joe Mixon, the superstar running back from Oklahoma, would most likely be picked in the first round of next week’s NFL Draft. That is, if not for a video that was released in December of 2016 of Joe Mixon punching a female Oklahoma student in the face at an off-campus sandwich shop. Mixon had been suspended from the team for the 2014 season following the incident, in which he broke four bones in the woman’s face and was charged with a misdemeanor, but for the most part, it wasn’t until the video broke that he felt the wrath of the public and, now it seems, the NFL establishment. Teams are likely concerned either that this behavior will continue or, perhaps more cynically, might believe drafting someone with such incendiary video baggage might upset their fan base.

Keith Strudler: The Importance Of Rest

Apr 12, 2017

So last week I had the flu. I’m saying this mainly in the dim hopes of garnering sympathy from the listening audience. It also made me keenly aware of the importance of rest. When you have the flu, you pretty much live your life one long nap to the next, in-between which you change sweat soaked shirts and complain to anyone that’s close enough to hear. But no matter what you do, or what medication you take, or what faith healer you call, the only thing that’s going to make you better is rest.