Saturday, July 10, 2010

Harvard engineering students invent a soccer ball that generates electricity.

How cool is this?   Thanks to that globe-trotting soccer enthusiast,  Peter B,  for sharing the story.  Makes you think the Jabulani design questions didn't go far enough!

A soccer ball to light up people's lives.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Are we entering a new era? Unreality TV

LeBron James' TV show The Decision played to 7.3% of U.S. television homes, according to early ratings from ESPN, making the sit-down program in which he revealed his next NBA stop the network's top-rated non-NFL show of 2010." says USA Today online this morning.   The article continues " ESPN says the decision attracted more than 300,000 unique viewers on, one of the largest audiences ever for a non-World Cup match." 

I'm not a basketball fan although I pay passing attention to my hometown team,  the Portland Trailblazers, now that they've cleaned up their act.  So I didn't rush to my local to watch LeBron James initiate a new era of unreality television.  If I understand it correctly,  James' organization purchased the time,   but even if I'm wrong about that,  I read that ESPN fell all over itself to get this show.  No surprise there.   

What I immediately began to wonder about , though, was how long it might be before the light bulb goes on (if it hasn't already) above some ESPN cranium.   If we can garner one out of every fifteen US homes to watch a famous athlete announce his "mulling over" where his career will take him next,  why wouldn't we start doing these shows as a new segment of "celebrinews" .   Particularly when considering the potential in the international marketplace.  LeBron might not draw on the bigger stage,  but what if we were featuring the next moves of Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney or?  Well,  the picture is easy to draw.   Even with the obstacle of player contracts as they are currently negotiated and owned,   the one off show featuring an adored sports personality has great potential to be a new way to make money.   And isn't that increasingly what it's all about?   

Doesn't affect me particularly since I don't watch television much.   But it could increasingly trivialize sport and exacerbate its already limited connectedness to local communities.    People in Cleveland were apparently heartbroken and felt betrayed by James' decision to leave.   They might want to get a reality check.   A look across the Water to the supporters' protest against  Man U's American owners and nation-sized indebtedness might do it.   Wearing Newton Heath colors is an insignificant protest against the financial machinery.   And in Cleveland,  the dismay of fans just becomes another 'human interest' story for the "news" to cover.   

My guess?  We'll see a famous footballer smiling into the camera,  looking somewhat chagrined,  while announcing that he's going off to play somewhere new.   For more money.  On a 'show' with a great advance push.  Within a year or so.  And fans,  some fans,  will gnash their teeth and act as if it all meant something.  

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Futbol after 50 FC77 Old Nicks vs Highland Stillhouse 96Degrees

Why soccer is the world's game

This link was forwarded to me.   Photographer Jessica Hilltout's photos of children playing the game,  making their own balls to do so,  illustrates perfectly how the game suffuses the lives of ordinary people,  children, everywhere.  Beautiful.  Jessica Hilltout's photos of African children playing soccer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Sunday afternoon,  people may be saying that today's semifinal match between Spain and Germany  was the best match of the series.  That remains to be seen but I have a hard time imagining that Spain could bring prettier play,  cooler style or more thought to the final.   I imagine that the Netherlands are likely to try their own wily style in the game in contrast to Germany's attempt to take their time and look for counterattacks against the Spaniards.   Regardless,  Spain did what they are known for and made futbol look fluid and magical.   The goal on a set play from Puyol's head was an exclamation point that ended a sentence some thought would have a question mark.  Can Spain play to its potential?  The answer is yes.   

There were few mistakes.  One rush down Spain's flank by the Germans left the backside of goal wide open and could have resulted in a strike.  But the shot was stopped.  Pedro's run down the right late in the game could well have ended up sealing the game for his team had he passed; instead he held the ball and lost it. Other than that,  not much.
I'm looking forward to the final on Sunday.   I like both teams and would be happy to see either take the Cup.  I really like the fact that Spain's style was rewarded with an appearance.   Smash and grab soccer didn't get any rewards in the procession to the final.   Maybe word will spread and 2014 will bring us more futbol which provides ninety minutes of breathtaking play.  I'd like that.

On related note,  I just discovered Run of Play today.  A blog about futbol written by a guy who knows how to shake out a handful of words and make them dance.  I was impressed with how he said what he said as much as what he said.   Let's face it,  there are more than enough people out there who know the history of every professional and national player in the bigtime from the day they got their first boots at academy.   That doesn't mean their thoughts on the game are interesting.  Being able to write well and getting to do it is like getting free play with crayons and all the paper you can use in second grade.  This guy goes to the head of the class.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Halftime at the Dutch v Uruguay match!

What a great first half!  An even up game with two beautifully delivered goals.  Who would have guessed.  Admittedly the patient Dutch have had more of the play and the Celeste (really?) have had trouble with putting balls astray but it's been fun to watch.   I'm getting multiple benefits from the experience too.  We don't have the full meal deal of cable channels so I'm watching on Telemundo which has been my 'scuola d'el Espaniol'  or something like that.  It's not as much help to my Spanish spelling as it is to vocabulary development.   I like it.   Soccer is not a game that requires a lot of commentary.  At least if you know what you're looking at.   The Spanish commentary was not very helpful in explaining the boot to the head of De Zeeuw when a Uruguayan player executed a bicycle kick.  An ugly looking smack though not a foul as best I could tell.   Interesting to me,  the Big O still does not list Telemundo's broadcasts in its TV sports listings.   I guess the presumption must be that only a miniscule Spanish-speaking audience reads their sports page.  Actually,  I'm guessing that  the audience speaking any language and reading the sports page is going down.   

I was also happy to find out that the matches were midday.   After facing 6:30 am games early in the tournament,  it's throwing me off my schedule to be watching at noon.   Foolishly I had sent an email off to a friend suggesting we get together 'someplace open real early with coffee and rolls where they might have the game on.'    Oh well.    

Time to get back to the game.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

So what is the German coach's name?

Those pesky foreigners!  Always trying to trip up the press by changing things around.  Joachim "what's his name" is the latest example.  FIFA's take is   Joachim umlaut?   For the LA Times though it's Joachim Loew with an 'e'    Nobody seems to be making a move toward Lowe the other way around.   Too bad 'cause there's a potential sponsor opportunity there.  "Lowe's team hammers Home Depot."  I can see it now.  Spellcheck?

Luis Suarez world's best keeper?

Okay there's funny and then there's cold....really cold, icy even.   Poor Luis Suarez not only has to sit out the key game against the Dutch tomorrow but he's also forced to take a ribbing --see the link--from Maarten Stekelenburg,  the Dutch keeper (who also plays with him at Ajax).  That's friggin' Arctic I'd say.   I'm actually rooting for the Orangemen myself because I'd like to see them in the final but still...have a little mercy!   My heart is with the total underdogs,  Uruguay simply because they're there in the final four.  And missing Suarez.   Though scoring goals hasn't been their ticket to getting through in this tournament.   I think Stekelenburg will find itching powder in his jock at some future date in League play. 

Number one rule of Blogging...

OK...probably the number one rule of blogging is to have compelling content that will actually drive readers to your virtual doorstep and make them want to come back.   But even if you've got that nailed,  you can't be dyslexic on a blog.  Particularly with the titles of your posts.  Just looked at a blog this morning that not only renamed the South American nation known for cocaine "Columbia" but then wrote in the header about the "Columibans".   Nice...

True confession though.  I keep spelling Alex Nimo's name like Little Nemo in the Disney movie.  Even though I know better.   And I do not trust spellcheck at all.  For anything.   

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rarely recorded in previous accounts of the Portland Timbers' experience we have here a shot of one of the popular yet less visible pursuits. Particularly on Thirsty Thursdays  there are almost as many people lining up to drink cheap beer as are watching the match from the stands.

Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps

The Fourth of July already and the weather gods still haven't committed to summer.  Last night I joined 9,000 of my closest personal Timbers soccer supporters and my friend, Mark,  to watch the Portland Timbers play the Whitecaps.   The rivalry here goes back almost as far as the one with Seattle,  but the mood last night didn't quite seem as intense as all that.   Both on the field and in the stands subdued felt like a more apt emotion.   Not that the play lacked intensity.   I thought the green-clads put on a passionate display and played a prettier game of football than I've seen in the Park for a good while.  They worked hard to keep the ball on the ground and move it around,  even in tight spaces.  There was good movement off the ball and the defense was solid.   Keel was back as was Cameron (glad that earlier removal on a stretcher apparently didn't involve serious injury) and Purdy.
Dansu finished up the back line.  They were solid, giving Vancouver few decent chances.  At the other end,  Keita was back ( I suspect that Dike needed a break after working so hard in the Seattle game) paired with DeMartin.  Keita demonstrates his intelligence on the field and his hunger for the strike.  And he launched his share of shots.  DeMartin,  while demonstrating some good skills comes across more like a midfielder than a forward.  At one point in last night's match,  Keita struggled to position himself with three Vancouver defenders as a long ball came down.  The big man succeeded and took the ball with his chest,  turning so it bounced to DeMartin just to his right.   Easy for me to say from the stands,  but DeMartin looked surprised and instead of crashing through with his body to collect it,  a move that could have put him unmarked in the box with the keeper and the ball,  he did not react and the ball was cleared.   As I say,  easy for me to evaluate from the thirtieth row.    Regardless,  Portland knocked out a rainstorm of shots,  none of which went in.    At the end of the night,  the crew took home a tie and a point but it felt disappointing because their effort was excellent.   Luck does have its role in the game,  and there were several examples last night when pointblank shots were just barely deflected.  It could have been 3-0 easily.   
The return to more intentional and organized play was the highlight in my book.   Next Saturday we'll see if they can begin to take that next step....stretching the netting!