Take that, Ghana. After ending the run for the US men’s soccer team in the last two World Cups, we’ve finally struck back, defeating the Black Stars in our opening match of this event – and yes, national soccer teams do in fact have official names. That precious victory puts them in reasonable standing to survive their competitive preliminary group, known as the group of death, and advance to the round of 16. They’ll be up against Germany and Portugal, both of whom are more highly regarded than the Yanks. Regardless, the US took a critical first step in beating both the competition and their demons, reminding the soccer world that the last remaining superpower could in fact defeat a team from the world’s 85th largest economy.
For everyone who sits at home at watches, let’s say the Knicks, and thinks they could do a better job coaching the team than whatever clown they’ve got, here’s the good news. You may someday have a chance. Because it seems one of the historic barriers to getting the job, years of coaching experience, is no longer important. In fact, you don’t need to have coached a single basketball game in your life. Just ask Derek Fisher, the newly crowned coach of the Knicks. He’s never coached before, and now he’s got perhaps the biggest job in the sport. Same goes for Steve Kerr, who left the broadcast booth for his first coaching gig, head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Gone are the padded resumes and decades of apprenticeships. Gone are the so-called recycled candidates, coaches who’ve already led two or three other NBA teams. Here are the days of new faces and out-of-the-box thinking, which is one of the world’s most ambiguous catch phrases.
It’s cliché to say something is more than just a game. Or in this case, more than just a series. But for the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, it is truly more than simply the sum of its parts.
Consider this the Olympic winter clearance sale. For the time being, the International Olympic Committee will be seriously slashing the entry fee to have your very own nation host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Historically, the price tag to buy one of these luxury items has been uniquely high. In fact, Russia just spent some $51 billion hosting the winter games in Sochi. And for that price, they got a whole bunch of unfinished buildings, a massive dog round up, and a whole lot of negative press. Given that, there seems to be a remarkable drought in potential buyers of Sochi’s legacy. While the 2018 Winter Games were long ago awarded to South Korea, the bidding for the 2022 event is ongoing as we speak. And it seems, unlike recent history, it’s a buyer’s market.
You have a bar mitzvah at 13. A quinceanara at 15. A debutante ball at 16. All of these are formal proclamations of adulthood that come before the American legal tender of 18, which of course is before the drinking age of 21 and being able to rent a car at 25. But all of these feel senior compared to the new standard age of adulthood for women’s golf. And that age is 11, which is the age of Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, California. Li last week qualified for the US Women’s Open Championships, one of the sport’s major tournaments. She’ll technically compete as an amateur, but she’ll face pro golfers far older and more seasoned. She’s the youngest to ever qualify for the Open, taking that title from Lexi Thompson, who did so at age 12 in 2007.
Last week we released a Marist Poll that looked at the NFL draft. In particular, we looked at what football fans thought would happen to Michael Sam, whether the fact that he came out would affect where a team might select him. Overwhelmingly, 65% of football fans thought his sexual orientation would have no impact on where the defensive lineman from Missouri would be selected. Only 25% though it would make teams less likely to pick him.
The NFL draft isn’t just an exercise in bizarre hiring practices. And it’s not simply the world’s most public meat market, although that is what it seems, with all the measuring and prodding and touching the merchandise of typically scantily clad men. Perhaps that makes it society’s answer to the swimsuit calendar, where the male physique is as quantified and deconstructed as the female form, even for entirely different purposes.
Adam Silver looked about as comfortable as a kid during his Bar Mitzvah. But for Silver, there would be no party at the end or a stack of checks to build his college fund. Just a room full of questions from hungry journalists, any of whom could ask the question that submarined Silver’s legacy before he’s even bought his own office furniture. The stakes were as high as they could be for a league that thrives on dramatic finishes. And Silver was all alone with the ball in his hands.
Here’s the good news. If you’re Mormon, or Muslim, or Jewish, you can play football at Clemson University. In fact, you can play even if you don’t believe in God at all. That is according to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, who said that he recruits players of all faiths, even those with no faith. Now, he’s had to clarify that because it’s recently come to light that Clemson football, while open to all comers, does have a more active calendar for those who may be Christian.