Like any true postmodern patriot, I not only want my country to do good, I want it to look good. I may be Taoist in much of my own self-conception, but not when it comes to soccer. Winning isn’t enough; I want the USA to be acclaimed. And yet, as we witnessed yesterday, one man can make a massive, damaging difference when it comes to our gaining acceptance into the highest ranks. That man is John Harkes. Now, to be fair, John Harkes is not the only sports announcer to resort to clichés, repeat those clichés, clumsily try to invent new clichés, etc.
Brian Clough is a legend among English soccer managers. He was the youngest coach in the league when, at 30, he took over Hartlepools United in 1965. In the early 1970s, he lifted a mediocre Derby County team from the Second Division to champion of the First, playing in a European Cup semifinal along the way. And in the late 1970s, he took an obscure Nottingham Forest squad all the way to back-to-back European Cup trophies, a feat considered one of the greatest in the history of the sport.
Ever wonder what happened to NYT plagiarist/fabulist Jayson Blair? Turns out he moved back home to the Northern Virginia suburbs where he now works as a life coach. At first this seemed an oddly ironic choice for a guy who so thoroughly screwed up his own life. (You know, like Brownie becoming a disaster preparedness consultant.) But, upon further reflection, it makes perfect sense. Blair had to confront all his demons and get his life back on track starting from a hole much deeper than most people ever face.
At the risk of turning this into a basketball blog, I wanted to follow up on that web story I wrote last week about how having an active, involved father might actually be an obstacle to becoming a big-time basketball star. On a related note, the basketball writer Adam Zagoria has a really interesting article about the ever increasing role sports agents are playing in the college recruiting process: The coach we spoke to added: “I don’t think this is happening with most Division 1 recruits.
Reprinted without comment: For Immediate Release April 8, 2009 Readout on President Obama’s Phone Call to Congratulate UNC Basketball Coach Roy Williams: Last night, aboard Air Force One, President Obama called University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams to congratulate him on his team’s victory over Michigan State in the NCAA National Championship basketball game in Detroit. Listed below is a read-out on the phone call from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: “The President offered Coach Williams his congratulations and thanked him and his team for vindica
First Read says: By the way, one of the most underrated spinners in American society: the college basketball coach. Last night, during the NCAA tourney selection, one of us listened to the spin coming from the 13-loss Michigan coach, who talked about the toughness of the Big Ten (really?) Yes, really. The Big Ten won more than 80% of its nonconference games, beating the likes of Louisville, Duke, Kansas, Texas, UCLA, Butler, Boston College, Florida State, and Missouri. The conference's collective RPI rating is second nationally.
Riddle of the day: When three auto industry executives came to Washington on Tuesday, in order to make the case for a multi-billion-dollar taxpayer-backed rescue, did they fly coach or first class? Ha! It's a trick question. They did neither. Instead, they took private jets. Three separate private jets. ABC News has the goods (h/t Yglesias): While [GM executive Rick] Wagoner testified, his G4 private jet was parked at Dulles airport.
Cathy Young is contributing editor of Reason magazine and author of Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood. The death of Soviet political cartoonist Boris Yefimov on October 1, largely unnoticed in the West, was not quite the end of an era--Yefimov's era ended long ago--but the end of a life that, Zelig-like, was involved in every transition of the last century of Russian history. More than a century, in fact: Yefimov (born Boris Yefimovich Friedland, in Kiev in 1899) was 109 years old when he died. As a boy, he watched Russia's last Czar Nicholas II go by in a coach.
Say it ain't so, Coach Gibbs! The Redskins legend, a fundamentalist in matters of running game and Biblical interpretation, is to speak tonite in Saint Paul. Fans who watched him on the sidelines last season, though, won't be surprised to learn that his timing is off: Anyone sufficently Redskins-obsessed to be swayed by the old coach will likely be watching the team's opener tonite instead of the convention.