Being a huge English Premier League fan, I have mixed feelings about NBC Sports acquiring the US TV rights starting this upcoming season. On one hand, at least it’s not at Fox, whose production value for FSC has always been abysmal, and being part of the NBC family should help increase the exposure to the US. However, obviously I’d prefer the rights to be owned by my company, ESPN, plus I’m a little concerned this piece above will be representative of how they cover a foreign sports league.
Apologies again for the delay in posting this week’s episode of SNSS, but I spent the first half of the week doing day job work at ESPN’s HQ in Bristol, CT. People based there are used to seeing all the random on-air hosts and celebrities come through, but it was a trip literally bumping into folks like Stephen A. Smith, Mike Golic, Mike Greenberg, Tedy Bruschi, and even the legendary Jerry Rice (!!!) in the hallways. Sitting in the control room during SportsCenter and First Take was an incredible experience too. Almost as good as appearing on SportsCenter a few weeks ago. Oh you ain’t know? Take a peek.
Anyway, back to the music. This past week’s show featured new music from folks like David Dallas, Curren$y, Miguel, Pusha T, Kid Cudi, Sir Michael Rocks, Rockie Fresh, Pharoahe Monch, Quelle Chris, Toussaint Morrison, Wax Tailor, Aloe Blacc, Mayer Hawthorne, Rapsody, and more. Good lineup. Trust me.
Show #381 (9-30-12)
Brother Ali – “Need A Knot”
David Dallas – “Ever Get The Feeling”
DJ Drama ft. Rick Ross, Pusha T, Curren$y, & Miguel – “Clouds”
Wiz Khalifa ft. The Weeknd – “Remember You”
Steven A. Clark – “F.*.C.K., Pt. 2”
Kid Cudi ft. King Chip – “Just What I Am”
Rebel ft. Brothers From Another – “Outta Yo Mind” (Local Music)
Sir Michael Rocks ft. Rockie Fresh – “Can’t Hide It”
Pharoahe Monch – “Damage”
ILLFIGHTYOU – “92” (Local Music)
Quelle Chris – “Milky”
Binary Star – “Reality Check” (Throwback of the Week)
Kilo Kush – “Navy”
Lupe Fiasco ft. Bilal – “How Dare You”
Kanye West ft. Raekwon, Pusha T, Common, 2 Chainz, CyHi The Prynce, Kid Cudi, & D’Banj – “The Morning”
ESPN’s Skip Bayless is easily the biggest Tim Tebow supporter (politest word I could use there) and while we’re all enjoying Tebow-mania, the bandwagon took a step back in to reality with today’s defeat to the New England Patriots. This video is still classic though.
While in town for the “Ambition” tour on 11/25/11, Wale stopped by KUBE and the SNSS studio to chat with me for a few moments. We talked about his Ambition album, years of grinding for success, what it’s like seeing fans quote his lyrics on Facebook & Twitter, and more. Since he’s always known as one of hip-hop’s most fervent sports fans, we had to talk some football so I asked about his recent debates with Skip Bayless at ESPN, who is the best running back in the NFL, his take on Tebow-mania, and what we should do with the BCS.
If you’d prefer to just listen to the audio, download/streaming links are below:
If you know me in real life, you know that as much as I live and breathe music, sports has always been far more important to me. With my dad’s British upbringing, soccer logically became my first sport and growing up, I must say, I was pretty talented (and equally modest…or not). As I got older and more immersed in our country’s sports culture, I was drawn to the major US sports and eventually basketball edged out soccer as my top choice. I put the cleats away, laced up the high tops, and ended up playing small college basketball down in Los Angeles. Nothing glamorous, but it kept me busy and shoot, there aren’t THAT many people who can say they’ve made the NCAA tournament! *cough* Division III though *cough*
After graduating, I returned to Seattle and while I’ve enjoyed playing in the Puget Sound Basketball League, I’ve had a lot more fun playing for a few soccer clubs up here. Perhaps it’s a little sad, but the two games I play each week are often highlights that I look forward to when I’m bored with the monotony of my day job and music work. It’s even at the point now where my basketball games are cool…but I’d rather be on the pitch.
Alongside my own playing, I’ve started following professional leagues around the globe, really buying in completely around the 2006 World Cup. Not only does it provide the obvious entertainment, but I find something really important in maintaining a regular connection, albeit fairly superficial, to the rest of the world. It’s sickeningly easy for Americans to forget that societies exist outside our borders (and are comfortably passing us by), so by following leagues in Europe, South America, and Asia, plus the international clubs from the rest of the world, I’m actually exposed to a good bit of culture and news I’d otherwise miss out on. Plus, it provides a nice escape when the sports media (hi friendly employer!) and all my friends talk about the same stories. Trust me, I’m up on all the happenings in basketball, football, and baseball, but watching/playing soccer allows me to follow stories that most people I interact with simply haven’t heard.
Naturally, this leads to the awkward existence of the US soccer fan. There are more of us than ever before. The MLS and US Men’s & Women’s teams are more popular than at any point in history. We are a legitimate player in the soccer world, but admittedly, we are nowhere near the top. Thanks to our size and economy (assuming we still have one in a few years), we have potential to join the top tier, but we have a long fight ahead. Americans are generally either apathetic to the sport or they foster a strangely antagonistic, and not so subtle jingoistic, disdain for it. There’s nothing that angers a non-soccer fan more than hearing how it’s the most popular sport in the world.
What does all this rambling have to do with the video posted above? Well, Francis Coquelin’s excellent performance as a defensive midfielder for Arsenal in their recent loss to Tottenham epitomizes why the average US sports fan doesn’t really like soccer.
Watch the video above. I’ll wait.
Ok, so what did you see?
6 minutes of “nothing special,” right? No thumping headers, athletic bicycle kicks, or Bend It Like Beckham-esque free kicks. Hell, you didn’t even get a goal! Instead, just a great deal of industry, grit, ingenuity, vision, agility, strength, speed, finesse, and calmness that displayed almost everything you want from a player in that position on the pitch. Granted, the youngster made a few poor touches and distributed some loose passes, but overall, it was the lone bright spot in what has become a shockingly poor season for Arsenal. In all fairness, it was far from what a top defensive midfielder is capable of, but it still underscores my point.
If you can’t appreciate a performance like that, you’ll never truly love the sport. If your eye can’t spot the subtle adjustments necessary for a positive first touch or the instinctive movement to create the right passing angle, you’re going to be awfully bored while you wait for the goals to come. If you’ve been brainwashed by our highlight driven society, you’re missing out on the building blocks for those incredible moments in the Top 10 countdown.
I’ll even go one step further, and likely anger some of my soccer loving friends at the same time. If you haven’t played the sport and tried to do what these guys make look effortless, you don’t fully understand the beauty of soccer. Yeah, I know…that’s pretty self-righteous, but I feel it’s true. Fans are quick to jeer when a free kick is ballooned in to the stands, but how many hours have you spent trying to hit the upper 90? If that number is high, you have a better understanding of what the player has attempted. Fact. Trying to curl in kicks from FIFA doesn’t cut it.
I don’t expect this rant to convince any non-soccer fans to give the sport another try and in fact, it may have the opposite result. That’s fine though. I view soccer similarly to how I view hip-hop. Either you’re in it and you live/love/breathe it, or you’re not.
You don’t have to be, but for those of us who are, seeing a young kid like Coquelin deliver such an impressive performance in his 2nd EPL start reminds us of an amateur MC stringing together a few bars brilliantly in the middle of a solid verse. Not enough to blow you away but just enough where everyone in the room felt it at that moment…like “yeah…that part right there?…that was it.”
It can be whatever you want it to be. Just don’t try to tell me what it is to me.
In the immortal words of Hov, “it was all good just a week ago.” Last Monday, I was enjoying the start of my vacation with sun, soccer, and the prospect of being out of the office for a few days. This week, it’s rainy, my vacation is over, and I’m stuck at home with a little cold. This is where you bring up #firstworldproblems…
On the plus side, once I recover from this cold and finish the week, I’ll be starting my new day job at ESPN next Monday. As a result of their “Rookie Camp” orientation at Bristol’s headquarters, I’ll be missing SNSS next week but J. Moore will hold it down solo. If you miss my voice, you’re creepy you can just download this week’s show and enjoy!
Show #325 (8-21-11)
Dom Kennedy – “Money Don’t Stop”
Jay Rock – “Elbows”
Game – “Ricky”
Thurz ft. BJ The Chicago Kid – “Hell’s Angel”
2Pac – “Temptations” (Throwback of the Week)
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Ray Dalton – “Can’t Hold Us” (Local Music)
Asher Roth – “In The Kitchen”
Trackademicks ft. Freddie Gibbs, Phonte, & 1-O.A.K. – “Chill”
JayKin – “V.A.N. II” (Local Music)
SBTRKT ft. Little Dragon & Shabazz Palaces – “Wildfire (Drumma Boy Remix)”
Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever watched one of these ESPN “My Wish” segments without tearing up. This particular piece highlighting a young cancer patient named Brendan Galanaugh and his idol, Landon Donovan, was no different. It would have been great without Donovan’s storybook ending to the day, but once he scored those goals, it was a wrap. Good stuff.
Fresh off the Winter Olympics, ESPN.com has jump started my anticipation for the world’s next big sporting event (March Madness isn’t quite international) by posting up their Top 50 Players of the 2010 World Cup. Peep the article for a breakdown of each player, but here’s the list:
1 Lionel Messi, Argentina
2 Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
3 Wayne Rooney, England
4 Kaka, Brazil
5 Xavi, Spain
6 Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast
7 Andres Iniesta, Spain
8 Fernando Torres, Spain
9 Steven Gerrard, England
10 Michael Essien, Ghana
11 David Villa, Spain
12 Franck Ribery, France
13 Samuel Eto’o, Cameroon
14 Luis Fabiano, Brazil
15 Iker Casillas, Spain
16 Cesc Fabregas, Spain
17 Gianluigi Buffon, Italy
18 Dani Alves, Brazil
19 Nemanja Vidic, Serbia
20 Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands
21 Maicon, Brazil
22 Frank Lampard, England
23 Andrea Pirlo, Italy
24 Carlos Tevez, Argentina
25 Robin van Persie, Netherlands
26 Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina
27 Diego Forlan, Uruguay
28 Thierry Henry, France
29 Sergio Aguero, Argentina
30 Michael Ballack, Germany
31 Julio Cesar, Brazil
32 Arjen Robben, Netherlands
33 Gerard Pique, Spain
34 Miroslav Klose, Germany
35 Lucio, Brazil
36 Javier Mascherano, Argentina
37 John Terry, England
38 David Silva, Spain
39 Carles Puyol, Spain
40 Nicolas Anelka, France
41 Ashley Cole, England
42 Patrice Evra, France
43 Marek Hamsik, Slovakia
44 Karim Benzema, France
45 Yoann Gourcuff, France
46 Daniele De Rossi, Italy
47 Philipp Lahm, Germany
48 Yaya Toure, Ivory Coast
49 Giorgio Chiellini, Italy
50 Landon Donovan, United States
I’m glad to see my favorite players (van Persie, Cesc, and Didier Drogba) all well represented, but overall, I think this list is surprisingly solid. David Silva should definitely be higher and some of the bigger names aren’t as good as they used to be, but ESPN did a pretty good job. What do you think?