Racial Bias in U.S. Soccer Culture?

Is there an implicit racial bias in Major League Soccer and other U.S. leagues? A piercing SB Nation story this week grappled with the implications of a recent study‘s disturbing findings “that black players are 14 percent more likely to be called for cautions than their non-black counterparts.” The study by Paste magazine also found that …

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2016 (on two wheels)

2016 (on two wheels) was a good year with some challenging points too. Here were some rides silly, challenging, and otherwise memorable: This was one of the most strange rides ever. Katie and I decided to head to St. John’s. It doesn’t look too far (from where we are in Lansing), and it’s not, but …

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Força Chapecoense

  This video honors the Brazilian team Chapecoense and the victims of the tragic air crash that killed at least 71 people in Medellin, Colombia, on November 29, 2016. May they rest in peace. #ForçaChapecoense For further reading click here and here. Tweet

The AmaXhosa Maradona

Photo: http://www.stellenboschfootball.co.za   The story of Abongile Elton Qobisa, also known as the “Xhosa Maradona,” has not been covered by ESPN, SKY, SABC, or FIFA media. But Tarminder Kaur, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of the Free State in South Africa, is determined not to allow us to forget him. On October 26, the …

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Politics and Soccer in the Middle East

[View the story “Middle East Soccer Politics” on Storify]   The Football Scholars Forum opened its 2016-17 season on September 19, with a discussion of James Dorsey’s long-awaited new book, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. A journalist and Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, …

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The Football Bard of Iceland Makes History

Guðmundur Benediktsson who? On Wednesday, June 22, the 41-year-old Icelandic announcer’s emotional call of Iceland’s winning goal against Austria at Euro 2016 went viral. The moment was immediately enshrined into the unofficial Hall of Fame of soccer broadcasting. Benediktsson is no ordinary broadcaster. He played for Iceland from 1994 to 2001 and has coached steadily …

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FIFA Appoints African Woman as Secretary General: A Preliminary Assessment

Fatma Samba Diop Samoura of Senegal, a career United Nations diplomat, was recently appointed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino as the world body’s new secretary general. “She will bring a fresh wind to FIFA—someone from outside,” Infantino declared. Listen to my radio interview with Assumpta Oturu as we discuss the significance of Samoura’s appointment and …

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For What It’s Worth

There is lots going on in the world of sports. There must be, as our local daily newspaper devotes more space to covering it than any other subject, seven days a week. Some of the most watched television are sports events. And it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that there is big money to …

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10 Reasons Why I Bike

I spent the last weekend catching up after a busy past month and biked with my wife Katie around town, and, in the process, thought about why I bike. Here are 10 reasons why: It’s a good form of exercise. Biking, even just a mile or two, is good for my physical fitness, especially for …

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Africa’s Premier League

Africa is a Country‘s film division is working on an intriguing fútbol project that I just supported on Kickstarter. What’s it about? Africa’s Premier League is a film that follows four fans—in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and DR Congo—as they live through the highs and lows of a football season as a way to explore …

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How We Speak Sports

  Image: Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. Cross-posted from The Allrounder [First published on November 13, 2014] We don’t just watch sports – we speak and hear sports. To find out how language shapes our lives as fans, we asked some of our writers to tell us about the …

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Reflection over prediction, or why we should write our lesson plans after the lesson

  There are three aspects of American life and culture about which I am unapologetically–and nearly equally–passionate: education, politics, and sports.   While I am sure that the 3 areas share many similarities, it’s the differences among these arenas that has attracted my enthusiasm. Education, specifically music education, has been my career path for over 30 years, …

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Ghana State Funeral for CK Gyamfi

Ghanaian football legend Charles Kumi Gyamfi, who passed away in September at the age of 85, was honored on Friday, December 18th, with an official state burial in Accra. Gyamfi began his top-level playing career at Cape Coast Ebusua Dwarfs in 1948-49. After one season, he joined Kumasi’s Asante Kotoko, staying until 1954 and then …

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FIFA, Blatter and Me (Andrew Jennings)

Nearly a decade ago, I devoured English reporter Andrew Jennings’s scathing investigation into “The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals.” Now, in a compelling BBC Panorama documentary, Jennings updates the story by digging deeper into FIFA’s most recent and spiraling crisis. The documentary takes viewers to FIFA headquarters in Zurich, and …

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Rethinking the 2015 Women’s World Cup

On December 1, 2015, the Football Scholars Forum held its 33rd session. The Michigan State University-based online think tank pre-circulated a shared list of readings that formed the basis for a wide-ranging, highly engaging discussion about the impact and aftermath of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Thirteen fútbologists from the United States, Canada, Britain, …

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Dreaming of a Sports City

The Football Scholars Forum, the online think tank based at Michigan State University, recently explored fascinating aspects of the long and complex relationship between fútbol and politics in the history of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In its second session of the 2015-16 season, FSF co-founder Alex Galarza, PhD candidate in History at Michigan State, shared a …

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The English Press and Germany: A History

The Football Scholars Forum opened its 2015-16 season on Wednesday, October 14, with a discussion of Christoph Wagner’s DeMontfort University PhD thesis entitled “Crossing The Line: The English Press and Anglo-German Football, 1954-1996.” Based on extensive archival research, “Crossing the Line” analyzes representations of Germany and Germans in English newspapers’ football coverage of key international …

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Put a Lid On It

A good friend and former colleague, Dr. Frank Fear, recently blogged at The Sports Column about the funding of higher education sports programs, where the subsidies are, to put it kindly, crazy. Subsidies are the Name of the Game in D-1 College Sports by Frank Fear June 7, 2015 His analysis shows how important big …

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Blatteropoly: The ESPN Documentary

Exquisitely timed for release just ahead of the May 29th FIFA presidential election, ESPN aired an excellent E60 documentary on Sepp Blatter’s governance of world football. Jeremy Schaap’s piercing investigation deftly uses on-camera interviews with whistleblower Phaedra Almajid, ex-FIFA men like Giorgio Tognoni, Swiss government officials, and others to probe the murky bid process that …

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Juve and Me

[iOS users click here to listen.] Juventus, the Old Lady of Italian football, is in the Champions League final for the first time since 2003. In an interview I did a year ago with Austin Long for the Soccer Nomad podcast, I explain how I came to support the bianconeri in the mid-1970s despite being …

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African Enough To Play But Too African To Coach?

Foreign white coaches’ involvement in African football dates back to the earliest days of colonialism. Beginning in the 1960s, independent African states continued to hire many Europeans (especially from the Eastern bloc and West Germany) and South Americans to manage national teams and player development programs. This funny BBC video raises serious questions about this …

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ROLL: Jiujitsu in SoCal

This documentary is about the jiujitsu lifestyle in So Cal. It starts old school, back in the day, when the Gracies were new to the US and teaching out of a garage. I also recommend the video below (great little fight at the beginning, ending in a heel hook; you can feel the adrenaline). I …

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African Football in the Media

This year’s Africa Cup of Nations is underway in Equatorial Guinea. RFI talks about African football and media coverage with Peter Alegi, an authority on the game in Africa and Professor of History at Michigan State University in the United States. [full text here.] Click below to listen to the interview. (iOS users click here.) …

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Curbing the Athletic Arms Race

The New York Times covered the NCAA convention this past week discussing some of the turbulence around the organization and the big business of college sports. In Friday’s article by Ben Strauss, one of the suggestions thrown out by Prof. Andrew Zimbalist, economics professor at Smith College, was “to cap head coaches’ salaries at $500,000… …

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The Women’s Game: Global Perspectives

  Last Saturday’s 2015 Women’s World Cup draw in Ottawa briefly took the global media spotlight away from the men’s game. And from the players’ gender discrimination lawsuit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association for staging matches on artificial turf rather than natural grass. The prominence of the women’s game in the sport-media-industrial complex happens so rarely, and tends to be so fleeting, …

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Petrodollars to the Rescue! Equatorial Guinea to Host 2015 African Nations Cup

The Confederation of African Football has announced that Equatorial Guinea will replace Morocco as host nation for the 2015 African Nations Cup, the continent’s oldest and most prestigious international tournament. The decision followed “fraternal and fruitful discussions” between CAF and Equatorial Guinea’s President Obiang, according to CAF’s official statement. Matches will be played in Malabo, …

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Talent Selection

How good is high school talent scouting for football? The star system used in college recruiting seems to have good validity in predicting an NFL career. SBNation: … The chance of a lesser-rated recruit being drafted in the first round is nowhere close to what it is for a blue-chipper. Consider this: While four- and …

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