Los Angeles F.C.: Soccer, Globalization, and Ethnicity

1998

One year ago this month, Major League Soccer (MLS) opened its 18th season with a cacophonous and exciting opening match between the New Jersey Redbulls and the Portland Timbers. Though the game took place in Portland and the match ended in an exciting 3-3 draw, Southern California drew the attention of broadcasters during the game’s halftime intermission. Former MLS stars and U.S. national players Taylor Twellman and Alexi Lalas engaged in a bit of banter regarding the L.A. based Chivas U.S.A. and its increasingly notorious team policy. Both players took offense to Chivas’  pro-Mexican/Latino recruiting model.  While admitting the policy came just short of racism, Lalas asserted that Chivas’ … [Read more...]

Making Analytic Rain in Today’s NBA: The Stat Revolution in Pro Basketball

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If you’ve taken a course in the social sciences, you are well aware of the quantitative approaches that now dominate these fields—from political science to economics to sociology. For several decades this emphasis on empiricism has reigned supreme. In some ways, this fetishization of quantitative methodologies seems like a lot of social scientists protesting too much: “Hey! We’re scientists too!” And we all know how prescient and skilled political scientists and economists are at predictions and policy…But, we’ll leave that be for now. While these methodologies are now fundamental building blocks of social science, they have also begun to spread from sports to approaches to governance. … [Read more...]

The Nationalisms of the World Series

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Things are set to come to a head all over again. A recent article in NYMag noted that the recent pessimism by fans of a newly fiscally restrained New York Yankees, if misplaced, hasn’t been this dour since 1992. The cover of that week’s New Yorker features the Yanks’ cast of expensive stars with crutches, canes, and wheelchairs. For a different set of fans 1992 also marks a milestone, though one considerably less somber. That was the first year that the “World Series” became even remotely international, as the Commissioner’s Trophy made its way north into Canada. So was 1993, and so—nearly—was 1994, until the baseball strike blew into the MLB fandom everywhere and destroyed the season … [Read more...]

Debating March Madness: ToM Dukes It Out over the Meaning of the NCAA Tournament

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ToM headquarters bubbled over with contentious enthusiasm this week, as writers and staffers debated the merits of March Madness. Inspired by the musings of Keith Orejel and the rantings of Clement Lime, ToM scribes raised workplace alienation to new and surprising levels this week. In an effort to stem this tide of negativity, we’ve allotted the two raconteurs at the heart of this dispute, Keith and Clement, one last word regarding their positions.  To paraphrase Tina Turner in Beyond Thunderdome, “Two men enter, one man leaves.” Click for Keith Orejel’s: “American Basketball, American Democracy: The Meaning of March Madness” Click for Clement Lime’s: “The Fallacy of March Madness … [Read more...]

The Fallacy of March Madness or Why I Learned to Love the NBA and Stop Worrying about the NCAAS

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I am a sinner, the lowest of the low, a man from the heartland who has abandoned the clarion call of March Madness.  This morning, I awoke to no busted brackets or regretful tears over Wichita State’s massacring of tournament expectations.  When the sound of Florida Gulf Coast alley oops fell silent in the face of a Florida team led by a guy who can’t act his way out of a UPS commercial (say it with me as woodenly as possible, “I-t-’-s a-b-o-u-t l-o-g-i-s-t-i-c-s”), I shed not a single tear.  No, for the first time in my life, I refused to fill out NCAA brackets and to be honest, I feel free, like a bunch of Disney starlets on Spring Break: “Come on y’all why you actin’ … [Read more...]

American Basketball, American Democracy: The Meaning of March Madness

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The Elite Eight is upon us, and the Final Four will be decided in a few short days. After several rounds of competition, March Madness has produced all of the excitement, enthusiasm, and sheer naked adrenaline that it is known for. Last second shots have powered schools to thrilling victories, more than once for Ohio State University. Schools like Florida Gulf Coast and Wichita State, which few had heard of prior to the last few weeks, are now the talk of the country as they continue their Cinderella runs deep into the NCAA tournament. The nation’s love affair with March Madness is a bit of an oddity given the public’s general lack of interest in college basketball. Eleven months out of the … [Read more...]

An MLS Moment: What the Chivas USA Controversy Tells Us About the State of US Soccer

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In a recent podcast for Grantland, Roger Bennett and Roger Davies reflected on Major League Soccer’s (MLS) current fortunes. After nearly two decades, they argued, the league had made it through the leanest years intact, financially healthy, and ready to expand its market share. Indeed, soccer remains one of the nation’s most popular youth sports and perhaps more importantly, among 17 – 24 year olds, as was widely reported last year, soccer ranks second just behind American football in popularity. Undoubtedly, as evidenced by their recent success in the English Premiership (EPL), American players, most of them former or current MLS standouts, have become increasingly common. From grunge era … [Read more...]

Olympian Hate: One Man’s Discomfort with the Olympics

Football Night In America

So last Wednesday night, I was sitting in one of the swankier bars in my chosen city of residence, attempting to quietly and unassumingly drown the demons from my work week when lo and behold a cry of Game of Thrones proportions arose from the back of the bar.  Like a banshee unleashed from centuries of torturing the souls of mere peasants, the roar swept over the bar, dropping its happy hour petulance into my libation.  Amid the ruckus, I wondered what could have created such a commotion, an unbridled expression of joy: a fucking bronze medal in synchronized diving. Male, female, who cares. I repeat: synchronized diving. Far be it from me to dismiss the efforts of these athletes—undoubtedly … [Read more...]

Extreme Makeover Football Edition: What Michael Vick, John Terry, and Joey Barton Tell Us about Media Rehabilitation in 2012

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Editor's Note: This article is cross posted at our friends Cult Football. For our football readers, definitely a worthwhile click. Recently, Michael Vick appeared on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption (PTI).  Vick appeared on PTI to plug his new book, Finally Free: The Power of a Second Chance. In his nearly eight minute interview, the Philadelphia Eagles star openly acknowledged his problematic past and, while contrite and thoughtful, he also admitted the book was an attempt to end the conversation about his history: “We can talk football, we can talk other personal things but let’s not talk about my past, let’s leave it where it is.” Vick’s career and life provide insights into several … [Read more...]

Joy and Pain: What Jeremy Lin Tells Us about 21st Century American Race Relations

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Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise. -- Floyd Mayweather, Jr. It is precisely the unfixed liminality of the Asian immigrant – geographically, linguistically, and racially at odds with the context of the “national” – that has given rise to the necessity of endlessly fixing and repeating such stereotypes. -- Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts, 19 Floyd Mayweather is not a brain surgeon. The man punches for a living and he punches very well. However, all that head trauma must have knocked more than few synapses loose, why would Mayweather begrudge the new Asian American icon … [Read more...]

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