Keith Strudler

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
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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.

Keith Strudler: Big Wait For Big Game

Jan 27, 2016

This is the first of two weeks preceding the Super Bowl. Which means we now have two weeks to discuss things that could be dealt with in a matter of hours. For example yesterday it was reported that the Broncos selected to wear white uniforms instead of orange. Apparently that's a big deal, both because they could have chosen orange, but also because it seems they win more in road white uniforms then their home orange ones. This is what you write about when you have two weeks to discuss one game.

Keith Strudler: Sarah From Seattle

Jan 20, 2016

When you’re upset, sometimes you say things you don’t really mean. That’s what I’ve been told. So we’ll just have to hope that Sarah from Seattle was really upset when she wrote her message to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton after they beat the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL playoffs, a message that was posted on a Seattle TV Network’s Facebook wall. Sarah’s note took Newton to task, but not because he beat her beloved Seahawks. It seems the problem was that Cam grabbed a 12th man flag dangling from the stands over the tunnel and threw it on the ground as he celebrated. For those not in Seattle or College Station, Texas, the 12th man is the expression used for Seattle fans, and Texas A&M fans, inferring their vocal support is like having a 12th man on the field, instead of the 11 mandated by the rules. According to Sarah, when Cam threw that flag to the turf, a flag that was being waved in Cam’s face as he walked towards the lockers, he insulted more than just some guy in the stands. In fact, according to Sarah, he insulted more than even the entire Seattle fan base, which is probably unusually large because they’ve been to the past two Super Bowls. According to this fan Sarah, who felt the need to express her thoughts to a news network and their corresponding public, Cam Newton’s actions insulted, and these are now her words, “a community that feeds and clothes the homeless, that raises funds for families in hard times, that helps a 3-year-old battle cancer, and that has more grace and respect than you (Cam Newton, that is) can imagine.”

Keith Strudler: The Inglewood Rams

Jan 13, 2016

The wait for the good people of Los Angeles appears to now be over. That is, to the extent that many people were truly waiting. But if you’ve spent the past 21 years in the city of angels longing for the NFL to return, it looks like that day will soon be upon us. That’s because yesterday the league approved the currently St. Louis Rams to relocate to the LA suburb of Inglewood, where they’ll build a multi-billion dollar stadium and surrounding entertainment complex. This returns the Rams to their prior home, where they spent nearly 50 years before moving to St. Louis. They left then because, neither surprisingly nor at this point ironically, they couldn’t get a new stadium in LA, or Anaheim, which is where they played at the time. St. Louis rolled out the red carpet, and off they went, from the nation’s second largest TV market to a city that’s currently the 21st. Of course, in the revenue sharing, made-for-television world of professional football, where anyone, anywhere can root for any team, where you play only matters so much as the amount of money you can make of your own stadium. Pretty much everything else is shared by all teams in the league. So, if you got a better stadium deal that gets you more money in Montana than midtown Manhattan, you might just take it. Assuming it’s got a dome, of course.

Keith Strudler: Coaching Without Tenure

Jan 6, 2016

Being a head football coach in the National Football League is the complete opposite of having tenure as a professor. First, you get paid a lot, as a coach that is. And second, unlike tenured faculty, you have absolutely no job security. So with tenure, you pretty much have to work to get fired. As a head coach, it can happen because the owner didn’t like color of your pants that day. Such is the high stakes world of professional football management, where five years is an eternity and each day is an obstacle.

Keith Strudler: Straw Men, Sports And The Media

Dec 30, 2015

If Peyton Manning had known six months ago that he’d be on the bench backing up an unproven fourth year quarterback who had thrown all of thirty passes in his first three years in the league, while he fends off accusations of performance enhancing drug use, he might just have thought twice about coming back for an 18th NFL season. Granted, Manning assumed he had ample life left on his cannon of an arm, if last year was any guide. And his team the Denver Broncos stood to be a favorite to make the Super Bowl, giving him another chance to put a second ring on his finger, at least equaling his brother Eli and making a stronger case for his place in the pantheon of greatest QB’s of all time. And the $15 million he’s paid this year didn’t hurt either.

Keith Strudler: The Hits Keep On Coming

Dec 23, 2015

For now at least NY Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham will play the role of villain. His casting was complete after what can only be termed a nasty performance last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, where Beckham earned three – count ‘em, three personal fouls, including a nasty helmet to helmet shot on Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. That performance earned him a one game suspension and the ridicule of most everyone marginally related to America’s national sport. Particularly as the NFL struggles to emphasize its new safety-first orientation, Odell Beckham’s boorish behavior stood out like a Rhodes Scholar at a Trump rally.

Keith Strudler: Strike Three

Dec 16, 2015

Let’s be honest. After any breakup, there’s no real chance of “just being friends.” So the idea that excommunicated baseball legend Pete Rose just wants to be friends with his lifelong love is simply fool’s play.  But that’s his hope, since it’s now clear there will be no renewed romance, no reconciliation. That’s the mandate of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, who this week denied Rose’s third attempt at reinstatement since his lifelong ban in 1989. Rose was banned, of course, for gambling on baseball as a manager for the Cincinnati Reds.

Keith Strudler: Don’t Drink (Or Swim In) The Water

Dec 9, 2015

It is certainly not the end of the beginning. Perhaps it is the beginning of the end. Or maybe it’s neither, but simply a series of unfortunate events. Regardless, this has been yet another bad run for the tarnished Olympic movement and the governing IOC, whose final letter may as well stand for crisis.

Keith Strudler: The Spoils Of A Star's Life

Dec 2, 2015

There’s good news for Philadelphia 76ers rookie center Jahlil Okafor. First, his team finally got their first win of the season last night, beating the also hapless Los Angeles Lakers to bring their record to 1-18. That puts them one win ahead of the Lakers for the all-important top spot in the NBA draft lottery, which seems to be the 6ers title every year now.

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