Eddie Gavin of the Columbus Crew on Blessed2Play

As I was drove home on June 3 from visiting my son, Lamar III, who is recovering from major jaw surgery, I turned on the radio and was delighted to hear an interview with Eddie Gavin of the Columbus Crew, a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise. I had been told about the interview last Friday by Archbishop Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas so I noted it and listened in. Eddie was being interviewed about his Christian faith by Ron Meyer for a show called Blessed 2 Play, a national program featuring sports figures who explain how their faith impacts their careers and family. If you go to the Blessed 2 Play website, you can listen to the entire 30-minute interview. 

The two things that impressed me most were (a) Eddie’s gratitude for his faith, career in soccer, and his young family (a wife and one child), and… Continue reading →

When Football Ruled the Airwaves in England

In the 1980s, the number of new TV channels – including free, cable, and satellite channels – increased dramatically. Many of these new channels took on the challenge of carrying sports around the world. Sports like cricket (played in India), Australian Rules Football (which barely existed even in other parts of Australia), soccer (which was still being resisted in America), and the National Football League (NFL) were now thrust onto the world stage by these new media outlets.

In 1982, Britain created Channel Four and began broadcasting NFL games. The games were hugely attractive to British audiences. There were people in communities such as Manchester, England who suddenly identified themselves as fans of the San Francisco 49ers, and even William “The Refrigerator” Perry of the Chicago Bears became a cult hero in Britain. For a year or two in the 1980s, the Super Bowl had higher ratings in Britain than the beloved… Continue reading →

The UEFA Champions League Championship

The UEFA Champions League is an annual international soccer (club football) competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). It is played in a tournament format over a 10-month period culminating in a championship game in May of each year.

The championship game this year features Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea on Saturday, May 19th at 20.45 CET (Central European Time). Chelsea was the runner-up in 2008 and Bayern Munich was the runner-up in 2010. Bayern Munich has won four times (1974, 1975, 1976, and 2001). Chelsea has never won. In the United States, you can catch it live on the Fox Soccer Channel or Direct TV at 2:45 p.m. EST. This match will be broadcast in over 70 countries with commentaries in more than 40 languages.  Incidentally, it will be watched worldwide by more people than the Super Bowl. 

Tune in for a great match.

The Long Journey of Professional Soccer

It’s hard to imagine how the viewing of one soccer match on television led to a lifelong passion and dedication to see professional soccer succeed in the United States, but it did.

The very first international soccer match was played in 1872 and, until England’s first home defeat in 1953 versus Hungary, England was the dominant soccer nation in the world. England was the country that “exported” soccer knowledge throughout the world (including the United States) in the form of soccer managers. England last won a World Cup in 1966 and, from 1970 through the 2008 World Cup qualifiers, won 67.4% of its international games. In fact, England’s winning percentage has never fallen below 62% and never risen above 70%. Winning two-thirds of the time is not too bad in a two-way horse race, but between 1980 and 2001, England had the 10th best overall winning percentage in the world.  This does not translate… Continue reading →

Columbus, Ohio: Dare To Be Massive!

Lamar Hunt Jr soccerImagine a soccer game where you complete almost 80% of your 501 passes (I did not know that they keep track of such things), control the ball 62.8% of the time, have 9 corner kicks versus only 2 for your opponent, taking 14 shots on goal versus your opponent’s 9 shots and, oh yes, you also have two goals that are “disallowed.” Welcome to the Columbus Crew’s loss on Saturday evening, April 26th, against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Soccer players are used to working very hard over the span of a 90 minute game, and they seem to understand quite well that they play a sport where statistics are difficult to correlate with wins and losses. Goals are the only thing that matter, not how far a player… Continue reading →