Keith Strudler

Keith Strudler: Less Is More

Apr 18, 2018

Here’s something said by pretty much every employee ever. “I work too much.” Now here’s the follow-up you don’t get. “I’d take less money.”

Keith Strudler: Nothing To Cheer About

Apr 11, 2018

So a few years ago, I was at a wedding in Dallas at one of those mega hotels. The kind of place where if you get on the wrong elevator, you might end up in Fort Worth. And besides the people there for the wedding, the entire rest of the hotel was booked for people competing in a high school cheerleading competition. At one point in an elevator, I was having some small talk with one of the parents, and she looked at me and said, “you’re not here for the cheerleading competition, are you?” There were about 200 ways she’d know that, starting with my somewhat unkempt appearance, which stood in stark contrast to the finely tuned and dressed competitors – and their families. Throughout the course of the weekend, I don’t think I saw a single hair out of place or one mismatched outfit.  As that parent reminded me, cheerleading has a distinct culture.

Keith Strudler: Going Pro

Apr 4, 2018

Now that we’ve crowned a national champion in men’s college basketball, the sport enters its version of what Major League Baseball calls Hot Stove. It’s when a handful of elite college basketball players, a lot of them still in their first year of school, decide whether they are going to enter the NBA draft. For some, it’s a fairly foregone conclusion – like Michael Porter of Missouri or Marvin Bagley of Duke, both fab freshmen who should be drafted in the top five this summer. In fact, the majority of most mock draft boards are made up of what we call one-and-dones, with a few sophomores and upperclassmen thrown in. Honestly, it looks like the roster for an intro college psych class.

Keith Strudler: Sister Jean Heads To San Antonio

Mar 28, 2018

The most recognizable figure in this weekend’s NCAA men’s Final Four may not be a player, especially since star laden Duke lost last week, or a coach, since all but Villanova’s Jay Wright are fairly anonymous. The most famous personality left in the field may be a nun. I’m speaking, of course, of Sister Jean, the 98-year-old team chaplain for Loyola University. 

Keith Strudler: March Sadness

Mar 21, 2018

It goes without saying that this NCAA basketball tournament has been, shall we say, complicated. I’ll refrain from using works like historic or unprecedented, because in sports analysis, we often suffer from recency effect. But if your brackets still look good, you’re either extremely lucky or living in denial.

Keith Strudler: College Basketball On The Brink

Mar 14, 2018

Without belaboring the point, this Thursday and Friday are, technically speaking, the two greatest days of the calendar year. That’s because they are the first two days of the men’s NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament. Which means that over the course of two days, 64 teams will be cut in half through 32 single elimination games. That’s approximately 64 hours of high intensity basketball played between the hours of noon and midnight Thursday and Friday. I’ll spare you any additional math, but needless to say, if you are a college basketball junkie, and I am, this is what heaven looks like. Only in heaven, I pick all 32 games correctly and win my office pool.

Keith Strudler: The Four Minute Mile

Mar 7, 2018

Virtually every college distance runner wishes two things. One, that coach doesn’t call an early morning Sunday practice. And two, that you had just a little more leg speed so you could run the mile. See, if you’re a 5000 or 10,000 meter runner, down deep you knew that meant you couldn’t turn it over quick enough to do something shorter. So you just kept going longer and longer until you kind of outlasted people. That’s my story at least, a former mediocre college 10K guy. The same goes for a friend who’s now an ultra-marathoner, who saw the marathon as just a bit too speedy.

Keith Strudler: Shopping For Sporting Goods

Feb 28, 2018

If you have two kids of a certain age like I do, you spend a whole lot of time in sporting good stores. We tend to do a weekly pilgrimage to buy anything from soccer cleats to compression shirts to running shoes that aren’t even necessarily used for running. It’s an expensive hobby, having kids. And of course, that means we spend a whole lot of time in Dick’s Sporting Goods, the largest retail sporting goods chain in the US. And every time I go to Dick’s, I have an uncomfortable moment when I have to walk my kids by the hunting section of the store. Because there, among other things, is a wall full of guns. There’s also bullets, and scopes and all the other things that make guns work – most of which I’m largely unfamiliar with, despite my three summers of Boy Scout camp in Texas. I tend not to spend much time staring, and I certainly don’t encourage my kids to peruse – which isn’t usually that hard, since they’re busy trying to convince me to buy them $100 basketball shoes they don’t need. It hasn’t stopped me from shopping there, obviously. But the feeling is there, and perhaps one reason I wish I was at Nike Store or a Foot Locker – something I never thought I’d say.

Keith Strudler: The Best Or Worst Of Olympic Times

Feb 21, 2018

No one is going to confuse Liz Swaney with Lindsey Vonn. They do both compete in winter downhill Olympic sports. But the comparisons stop there. This is Swaney’s first Olympic Games, compared to Vonn’s fourth. And Swaney does the snowboard half pipe, while Lindsey Vonn is a downhill skier. So those are some differences. But that kind of buries the lead. It's like saying the difference between Brad Pitt and John Candy is that Pitt prefers to wear brown shoes.

Keith Strudler: Olympic Hockey And The NHL

Feb 14, 2018

Alex Ovechkin would rather be at the Olympics right now. Specifically, the NHL hockey veteran would rather be playing for his home nation of Russia in the Games – something he did in 2006, 2010, and 2014. Of course, he can’t do that for two reasons. One is somewhat technical. Namely, there is no Russian Olympic team in the Korean Games because of the IOC’s ruling on Russia’s longstanding drug program. So Ovechkin would actually be competing for the Olympic men’s hockey team from Russia. Which I suppose would probably suffice.

Keith Strudler: The Biggest Play In The Big Game

Feb 7, 2018

Perhaps the most important play of Sunday’s Super Bowl came in the second quarter, when Patriots wide receiver Brendan Cooks was knocked to the ground by Philly defensive back Malcolm Jenkins after 23-yard completion. The hit looked brutal from the comfort of my living room, if for no other reason than Cooks didn’t see it coming. He laid on the field for several moments, and, after being attended to, did leave on his own two feet. Slowly. And he never returned.

Keith Strudler: Time For A New Hat

Jan 31, 2018

Sports fans are a lot like fashonistas. They’re always looking for an excuse to buy new clothing. Fans of the Cleveland Indians now have one. Or at least they will, in 2019, when the franchise changes its uniforms and removes its controversial logo, the cartoonish Native American caricature Chief Wahoo. For decades, critics have asked – no, demanded the mascot be removed. And now it will be, with a few caveats.  First, it won’t make the change until a season from now, allowing Chief Wahoo fans another year to enjoy what many consider a racist symbol. There’s probably some logical reasons for the delayed alteration, namely they need to come up with an alternative. And they probably want fan feedback, or at least the perception thereof. So there are business explanations for slowly removing the Band-Aid instead of ripping it off.

Keith Strudler: No Silver Lining

Jan 24, 2018

If there’s a silver lining to this story, and really there isn’t, it’s that Dr. Larry Nassar will die in prison. Which means he won’t victimize any more of the young female athletes that came to him for medical counsel. It also means that the dozens of victims that have spoken out – and others that haven’t – can hopefully feel some modicum of justice and perhaps relief that Nassar got what he deserved, if you’re so inclined to view the American penal system that way. But outside of those victories, this story is a true tragedy.

Keith Strudler: The Last Play

Jan 17, 2018

Calling Sunday’s last second touchdown pass by the Minnesota Vikings over New Orleans the greatest game winning score in NFL playoff history would bother a) Pittsburgh Steelers fans who assume the 1972 Immaculate Reception holds that title in perpetuity, and b) New Orleans Saints fans who might suffer flashbacks every time someone shows that highlight. But whether it was the actual greatest of all time or simply part of Mt. Rushmore, make no mistake that Minnesota’s unlikely walk-off touchdown will leave a mark.

Keith Strudler: The Uneasy Olympic Truce

Jan 10, 2018

Here’s the good news. If you have tickets to February’s upcoming Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, there seems to be an ever so slightly better chance you’ll enjoy that experience without the inconvenience of a military exercise from North Korea. That’s not a guarantee, but an aspiration made more likely due to the relative and very recent detente between the Koreas, much predicated upon the upcoming Games themselves.

Keith Strudler: Bulletin Board Material

Jan 3, 2018

In many ways, the bulletin board is a true dinosaur of communication. There are literally dozens of more effective and efficient ways of letting people know something than by pinning a piece of paper to a flat sheet of cork. 

Keith Strudler: A Beginning And An End For Eli Manning

Dec 27, 2017

The beginning of 2018 may also be the end of an era. Such could be the reality for Eli Manning and the legions of New York Giants fans who have adopted him as their own, especially after winning two Super Bowls against the New England Patriots. It’s a fair assessment that older brother Peyton was a better NFL QB, but it would be hard to imagine anyone – Manning or not – more beloved by his home fans.

Keith Strudler: Best Bar Mitzvah Ever

Dec 20, 2017

When it comes to Bar Mitzvahs, particularly in the greater New York metropolitan area, it’s always the case of trying to keep up with the Schwartzs. That means having more dancers, or a bigger band, or more elaborate deserts. Or, as is the custom, don’t serve dinner until around midnight, which seems to be the arbiter of status of the upper class. Or, if that doesn’t work, have Kyle O’Quinn of the New York Knicks come as your newly minted adult’s special guest. That’s right, if you play your cards right, you can have your very own New York Knick singing Hava Nagila and doing the chicken dance and being the envy of every 13 year old that’s ever played a single JCC pick-up game.

Keith Strudler: Roll Tide

Dec 13, 2017

Let’s face it, there’s one topic too big to ignore today. It’s on everybody’s mind, and it harkens thoughts of fairness and respect. It’s about winning and scoreboards and state and regional pride. It’s about the state of Alabama. I’m talking, of course, about the University of Alabama being selected as the last of four teams to make the College Football Playoff, joining Clemson, Oklahoma, and Georgia in the quest to become the number one football team in the country, a decision that nearly split the college football world and was truly up for grabs until the final decision. And yes, I am making a direct parallel with the election of Doug Jones in the same state, although I’d hate to suggest a senatorial campaign is nearly as exciting as a college football season.

Keith Strudler: Russia’s Olympic Problem

Dec 6, 2017

I never thought I’d say this, but wouldn’t it be great if the American federal government acted more like the International Olympic Committee. Generally speaking, that’s almost comedic. It’s like wishing your accountant could be a little more like Bernie Madoff or that your cab driver could be more like Lizzie Grubman. The IOC is often regarded as the most corrupt major sporting body outside of FIFA and has been accused of everything from systemic bribery to privileging human rights tragedies. But yet, IOC leadership seems capable of things our US leadership can’t, or won’t do. More to the point, the Olympics, unlike America, just stood up to Russia.

Keith Strudler: Almost Hired

Nov 29, 2017

So long Greg Schiano. Tennessee barely knew you.

To be clear, Tennessee, more specifically the University of Tennessee, really didn’t get to know you at all. They almost did, as the still current defensive coordinator for the Ohio State football team nearly became the head football coach for the University of Tennessee. But that seeming fait accompli fell apart with remarkable speed and venom somewhere between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning in a twitter fueled campaign of angst and moral outrage.

Keith Strudler: Two Minutes

Nov 22, 2017

In the official record books, Michael Porter Jr. will likely complete his college athletic career having played two official minutes of Division I basketball for the University of Missouri. That’s neither definitive nor official at this point, because Porter is only in his first season with the Tigers. But it’s a very strong hunch.

Keith Strudler: The Cost Of Sunglasses

Nov 15, 2017

Contrary to popular belief, Donald Trump is not the only American who can travel to Asia and cause an international incident. It seems members of the UCLA men’s basketball team have that same talent, which was on full display this past week, the opening for college basketball programs across the country.

Keith Strudler: The Winning Proposal

Nov 8, 2017

The World Series is now a something of a memory, ending almost a week ago with a Houston win in game seven on the road against the LA Dodgers. Since then, all the parades, accolades, second guessing – it’s all come and gone as baseball looks towards its hot stove season and American sports fans focus intently on football, if they hadn’t already. For most of us, players included, game seven was the end.

Keith Strudler: Soccer Art Imitating Soccer Life

Nov 1, 2017

In the spirit of art imitating life, the popular video game Football Manager 2018 takes its cues from reality. For the uninitiated, which in this case is probably the majority, football means soccer. And Football Manager is a popular video game that allows users to create and manage a soccer club based on real and sometimes mythical players. Based on real data and analytics, the game simulates league play while putting game users in the position of managing an actual soccer, or football club. Such is the wonder of the current technological age.

Keith Strudler: 26.2, Exactly

Oct 25, 2017

There is nothing inconsequential about running a marathon. It’s long and grueling and makes you chafe in horrible places and often ends in people vowing to never do it again.  It’s a well-known symbol of athletic accomplishment, which is why people love wearing finisher’s shirts to work. It’s 26.2 miles of heart, sweat, and tears. Except when it’s not.

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.