Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 6: Bobby Warshaw

August 16, 2017

Can you be a good soccer player and a good person? 

Bobby Warshaw wrestles with that conflict in his bookWhen the Dream Became Reality: The journey of a professional soccer player, and the push for meaning, purpose, and contentment.

We talk about that (around the 4:30 mark). And he responds to Yael Averbuch responding to his comment about learning to hate losing at an early age (10:05). 

Two quotes from the next 20 minutes: 

19:30 In the midst of a discussion on whether U.S. academy kids are coddled: “There’s no human being that came out of that Bradenton academy that was a regular person after that.”

24:50 A few thoughts on pro/rel and what it means to know other people may lose jobs if you mess up on the field. “Anybody who thinks they want to sign their team up for a relegation battle is out of their darn mind.”

Then, of interest to parents and coaches, we ask if youth sports are good for building character (31:00).

From 33:30 to 38:30-ish, we ask whether Americans' competitive drive is ruining the country, and we compare this to the Scandinavian mindset on work, sports and society. Along the way, I mention the book How the Scots Invented the Modern World, though I'm not completely sure it makes the point about guilt that I'm citing. Haven't read it in a while. 

At 38:50, Bobby puts me on the spot about parenting, and I explain why I quit USA TODAY (the year is garbled -- it was 2010). 

Then we talk about anger. Do women yell at each other and coaches in practice? How can Dom Kinnear be so nice to most people and then preside over a meeting in which a whiteboard was apparently broken? And we have to mention the 2007 Women's World Cup.

Apologies for some sound issues. I need to ditch my headset mic. But on the whole, this is some meaningful stuff. Enjoy.

 

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Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 5: Promotion/relegation with Peter Wilt

August 9, 2017

Will promotion/relegation actually happen in U.S. pro soccer? The odds look better now than they ever have. 

This week's guest, Peter Wilt, is trying to make it happen. The former Chicago Fire/Chicago Red Stars/Indy Eleven/etc. executive is working on a third-division league -- National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) -- that would bridge the gap between the (currently unofficial) fourth division and the second tier. After that, who knows?

A few things you should check out: 

- The NISA site and Twitter feed

- Peter's pro/rel manifesto at Howler

- My survey on pro/rel -- if you coach or run a non-MLS club, please contact me

We discuss: How the Fire’s negotiations to build a stadium in the early 2000s would’ve been affected by pro/rel (5:30), whether anyone at MLS or U.S. Soccer ever talked pro/rel in his time working with them (9:30), the death of the U.S. Soccer anti-pro/rel conspiracy theory, the FIFA statutes (11:45), whether MLS has “outgrown” its original model (14:00), my dog barking at something and whether a more diverse MLS ownership group would be more receptive to pro/rel.

Then we actually argue pro/rel (18:15), with me taking the devil’s advocate role. Topics: Would it really help player development, would MLS clubs have made the investments in academies they’ve made in the last 10 years without the stability of a closed league, do relegation battles really lend themselves to good soccer, and what we do about losing talent soccer staffers when their clubs are relegated. (We both see the positive possibility that a bunch of people with soccer experience could help build pro Ultimate.)

We get into what has or hasn’t changed on the club landscape (31:30). Are lower-division clubs more interested in being promoted even if it forces them to change their business model? Why is Peter now thinking of an idea other than the old notion of having a combined USA-Mexico first division?

Then, at last, we talk about Peter’s NISA proposal (42:00). Are USASA clubs interested? Is U.S. Soccer trying to squash things? (No. But listen to him if you don’t believe me.) Finally, when will we really be ready to do pro/rel, really?

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Ranting Soccer Dad, Episode 4: Are women’s soccer players role models? With guest Jen Cooper

August 2, 2017

Charles Barkley said he isn't a role model. Women's soccer players, though, have typically embraced that role. But does being on a pedestal come with inevitable pitfalls? Jen Cooper, keeper of Keeper Notes and the Mixxed Zone podcast, joins the show to talk about it.

Here's the rundown: 

2:33 The Washington Spirit’s old pregame announcement on how these players are role models

4:40 Ballgirl: “They use a lot of dirty words”

6:15 A young fan reacts to a player’s arrest. Jen’s advice: People are multidimensional.

8:40 But fans still put players on pedestal -- how dare you say anything critical about Ali Krieger?!

10:42 Christie Pearce opens up about divorce and therapy.

12:52 The misstatements of collective bargaining -- veteran players gained at others’ expenses

13:55 Abby Wambach’s riveting memoir

15:15 Why at least one player blocked me on Twitter (trust me -- it's relevant to this conversation)

18:15 Suppose we’re more worried about NWSL players quitting the game than we are about the top players making more? “I am not going to promote a GoFundMe for people already making six figures.”

20:25 The advantages of seeing players as fallible. “Lay off Hope Solo because players ARE flesh and blood.”

23:00 Jen grills Julie Foudy about the past and present of collective bargaining

25:00 What did “Equal Pay for Equal Play” mean, anyway? Just the top 20? What about Casey Short or Mallory Pugh? And did the players err by framing it so simply without addressing those details?

26:15 The lack of critical coverage from the women’s soccer media -- unfair in the long run?

28:42 The silver lining of the 2007 World Cup goalkeeper controversy: It made us start thinking about women’s soccer as a sport with decisions and consequences.

30:00 Appreciating the U.S. team more when we see the nuances are realize winning isn’t easy, but the general media don’t see that yet.

32:05 Back to the 99ers and how they were marketed -- girls next door, “heteronormative,” Norman Rockwell painting of America

34:07 With players in a larger spotlight, how much scrutiny do we pay to their relationships? In other words, can a player announce a serious relationship (Rapinoe, Solo) without us all asking, “Hey, what happened to your previous significant other?”

39:10 Compare current atmosphere to the old guard -- Mia Hamm was divorced and remarried with very little publicity.

41:25 Are we sick of the “soccer mom” stories?

42:30 Wrapping it all up -- it’s a different media landscape (especially with social media fooling us into thinking we *know* players)

46:10 We finally mention the Charles Barkley ad.

47:40 The Hope Solo Eurosport ad.

And once again, this is sponsored by my youth soccer book, Single Digit Soccer, with thanks to Audacity, Garage Band, my 30-year-old Ibanez guitar and Peavey amp and listeners like you.

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Ranting Soccer Dad, Episode 3: Gwendolyn Oxenham

July 27, 2017

Gwendolyn Oxenham and I both went to Duke, but we went a few years apart. And while I'm kind of a slacker, she's a more typical Dukie overachiever -- left high school a year early to go to Duke, started grad school when she was 20, then traveled the world for the film Pelada (listen to Ray Hudson heap praise upon it) and the book Finding the Game: Three Years, Twenty-five Countries and the Search for Pickup Soccer.

Her new book, Under the Lights and In the Dark: Untold Stories of Women's Soccer, collects interesting stories from all over, showing us what women's soccer players do to compete and get better in a sport that is providing more opportunities than in the past but not quite as much as we'd all like.

She also chats here about her youth soccer experience and what she'd like to see for her kids.

We cover a lot, and I spend the first 6:20 on an introduction, so I've broken down the topics by time here:

2:00 On her new book -- terrifying stories from Russia and elsewhere

2:21 Book of Mormon reference and a rant on cynicism, soccer and journalism

3:12 Blaming the business side of journalism for journalism’s woes (ahem, autoplay ads)

4:35 So if you’d like to sponsor this podcast, reach out

4:45 How this book inspired me

5:07 About name pronunciation and Josephine Chukwunonye

6:24 Guitar and drums

6:40 The range of stories in the book, especially players beyond the USA. (Did you know Nigeria has one of the world’s oldest women’s soccer leagues?)

8:15 An example of how she tracked down players from all over

8:50 The player that got away

9:40 Josephine Chukwunonye (“Alinco”), one of the most riveting stories in the book -- soccer was her road out of extreme poverty. Read an excerpt.

11:10 Alinco’s mom starts sobbing because she’s sitting on a couch -- yes, a couch -- that’s beyond her wildest dreams

12:27 In the USA, soccer is a route to college. Elsewhere, players may have to choose between soccer and school

13:15 Mami Yamaguchi learning to love college and returning for her degree

15:20 Why it was difficult to get good stories on German and French players

17:33 Why Oxenham was banned from talking with my student newspaper

18:17 The chapter starting with a Gary Smith quote about how athletes have to shut down opportunities for personal growth. As it stands now, women’s soccer players generally have those opportunities. Will that change as more players skip college and go pro at an early age?

22:43 Allie Long playing in semi-pro mostly men’s futsal leagues in New York -- it’s basically a second career

26:45 Oxenham’s experiences changing perceptions of female players in pickup games.

28:22 What opportunities do kids have to get into pickup games?

31:33 Oxenham’s youth soccer experience. Better than ballet.

33:00 Developing 1v1 skills, supposedly a rarity in the USA

33:48 Memories of Mia Hamm and soccer in North Carolina

36:14 Stepping into coaching at the U-Little level

38:18 What Oxenham would wish for her kids in youth soccer

And once again, this is sponsored by my youth soccer book, Single Digit Soccer, with thanks to Audacity, Garage Band, my 30-year-old Ibanez guitar and Peavey amp and listeners like you.

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Ranting Soccer Dad, Episode 2: Yael Averbuch

July 20, 2017

Is the USA falling behind the rest of the world in soccer development?

Can YouTube videos and apps get kids interested in practicing soccer when they're not at soccer practice? 

How did FC Kansas City wind up with two players association leaders in central defense?

Why do so many skillful players emerge from a North Carolina program known for stressing the athletic side of the game?

What's Bobby Warshaw talking about?

 

Few people can answer these questions better than this week's guest, FCKC's Yael Averbuch. (Well, Warshaw can answer the last one, and he'll be on the podcast sometime in August.) She's the guest this week on the Ranting Soccer Dad podcast.

Sponsored by: Single Digit Soccer, my youth soccer book.

Thanks to:

- Audacity, the best in open-source audio software.

- Freesound.org, particularly the user justkiddink for the sound of growling dogs, and the Creative Commons attribution license.

- Garage Band

- My 30-year-old Ibanez guitar and Peavey amp

- Listeners like you

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Ranting Soccer Dad, Episode 1: Mike Woitalla

July 13, 2017

Soccer America's Mike Woitalla joins the show to talk about the true cost of travel, the absurdity of multiple national championships, and whether parents who used to play Mozart to their unborn children in the womb will soon start playing Ray Hudson to get them on the scholarship train early.

Check out Mike's work, or at least the last few days of a career spanning a couple of decades.

Sponsored by: Single Digit Soccer, my youth soccer book full of anecdotes about Pulp Fiction and the Muppets, plus insight from the leaders in U.S. youth soccer.

Thanks to:

- Audacity, the best in open-source audio software.

- Freesound.org, particularly the user justkiddink for the sound of growling dogs, and the Creative Commons attribution license.

- Garage Band

- My 30-year-old Ibanez guitar and Peavey amp

- Listeners like you

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Ranting Soccer Dad, Episode 0

July 6, 2017

The debut episode! Basically, a quick preview to show what I'll be doing here.

Sponsored by: Single Digit Soccer, my youth soccer book full of anecdotes about Pulp Fiction and the Muppets, plus insight from the leaders in U.S. youth soccer.

Thanks to:

- Audacity, the best in open-source audio software.

- Freesound.org, particularly the user justkiddink for the sound of growling dogs, and the Creative Commons attribution license.

- Garage Band

- My 30-year-old Ibanez guitar and Peavey amp

- Listeners like you

 

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