Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This Is American Soccer: Olympic Soccer Preview

Good post from Adam Spangler of This Is American Soccer, one of my favorite soccer blogs. Adam has a smart idea about Olympic soccer. He writes, "In my utopia, the U.S. would prioritize the Olympics more than any other country and go about winning a Gold Medal, something that can not be so easily said about the World Cup."

And...while we're on the subject of soccer...did anyone see this truly ridicilous video (via Deadspin) of Bayern Munich introducing its new uniforms? New uni events are always uncomfortable, but Bayern Munich takes it to a new level of weirdness.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Advance Praise: The Galloping Ghost

I have received some nice advanced praise for The Galloping Ghost: Red Grange, an American Football Legend (Houghton Mifflin). William Nack, John Eisenberg, and Sam Freedman are all writers I admire a great deal, and Pat Haden's broadcasting skills are exceptional...Here is what they have to say about the book.

Advanced Praise for The Galloping Ghost:

"Red Grange was the most important figure in the history of American football, both college and pro, and Gary Andrew Poole's extremely well-researched biography of the man, The Galloping Ghost, sheds all new light on Grange's career from his days as a young phenom to his barn-storming around the country as an American hero to his ultimate decline and fall. It is a fascinating read." --William Nack, author of Secretariat and Ruffian

"With superb reporting and deft writing, Gary Andrew Poole pulls off his version of a spectacular Grange touchdown run, invigorating a legendary sports story with energy and new detail. Grange's inner life is explored as broken-field runs come alive and a controversial saga plays out." --John Eisenberg, author of The Great Match Race

"Few athletes before or since have seized the imagination of sports fans in the way Red Grange did. Poole's account captures this story and this era in a unique and fascinating way."—Pat Haden, NBC football analyst and former college and NFL quarterback

"In writing the authoritative biography of Red Grange, Gary Poole has done so much more. He has vividly brought us back to the glory days of college football's past and the raucous birth pangs of the pro game. And he has brilliantly shown us how America's first national football hero was also, thanks to his charismatic and conniving manager, America's first sports commodity, as well."--Samuel G. Freedman, professor, Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and author of The Inheritance

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tour De France: Television commentary

Even if you're not interested in professional bike racing, or think it is filled with performance-enhanced druggies, the Tour De France is still the most compelling of the endurance sports, and part of the reason comes from the announcing team of Paul Sherwen and Paul Liggett. With 145 riders (the race began with 179 riders), and sometimes five hours of time to fill, the Tour De France is one of the more difficult events to call for an announcing team, but Sherwen and Liggett, of Versus, weave stories, explain strategy and keep the riders' names straight as they dart back and forth to the finish line. Without any big names in this year's Tour, which ends Sunday, the event has lacked some panache but Sherwen and Liggett always make it interesting, nonetheless.

The OC: Mark Saxon's UCLA blog

The Orange County Register's Mark Saxon has a new blog covering UCLA basketball and football. (Nepotism Alert: Mark's my brother-in-law.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Surf Movie: Bustin' Down the Door

Just watched the film Bustin' Down The Door, a documentary about the birth of pro surfing. It opened today in Los Angeles. Very interesting story about surf culture, circa 1975, and how a group of young, brash surfers from Australia and South Africa changed, or more accurately, created the sport, modernizing it and in turn clashed with more traditional Hawaiian surfers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Esoterica: What is a gridiron?

With NFL training camps starting next week, and the term "gridiron" about ready to be over-used, it sort of got me thinking....what exactly is a gridiron?

Webster's defines it as: "A football field; so called because of the resemblance of the parallel marked yard lines to a gridiron."

But when I look at the modern football field, I don't necessarily think "a grate for broiling food." The look of the football field has evolved over the years. Hashmarks, for example, weren't around until the 1930s, and goal posts used to look like the letter H and players used to run into them. Sort of an entertaining, yet lost element to the game. Although the modern field looks like a gridiron when observed from above, the original gridiron actually consisted of square grids. Instead of hashmarks and yard markers, the offense would snap the ball in the grid in which it was downed--sort of a violent chess game as a team tried to get out of each square. Hence, the term gridiron was born into the sports lexicon.

The image above shows the classic gridiron from a 1906 game in Ohio between Massillon and Canton. Click on the photo to really get a sense of the old fashion field of play.