Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kicking Back - OUT!

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
Friends,

Over the next week or so I am going to be out and about and generally unavailable.

We would like to wish all our readers of Kicking Back a happy, safe, and mindful holiday season over this Independence Day.

We'll certainly be back at it for a recap on the Womens' World Cup and other significant happenings on our return.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Drone-Gate?

Some NFL Teams Are Being Probed for Using Drones to Film Practice

National Football League teams have taken to the skies in their search for a competitive edge, launching drones to film their practices.

“You can coach better. You see hand placement, you see where they have their feet and where they have their eyes,” said Jason Garrett, coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

The problem is, it’s illegal to fly the unmanned aircraft for any commercial purpose without first getting a Federal Aviation Administration waiver. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Bloomberg.

Kicking Back Comments:
Alright guys ... start the deflate-esque comments now =)

I think I am going to fly one of these for "educational" purposes for the next assessment I do.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

An Open Letter to the GU16-1 South Shore League MTOC Team Coaches

Gentlemen,

During your match today at 4PM on Field #12 at Progin Park in Lancaster MA, I witnessed conduct so pathetic and barbaric from you both, I was compelled to write about it.

Let me start with a clear and unequivocal statement that I harbor no ill will against your team. There is no reason to involve them as they have earned the right to play and from today's result, will continue in the tournament.

My issue is with you both in bullying a seventeen year old girl about a decision she made. Bullying from a pair of late forty, early fifty men that was so persistent and so severe, it brought her to tears during and well after the match.

Bullying so grotesque it involved screaming by you, the lead coach, from the technical area and calling her decision "bull shit" and "what are you trying to do to us?" which persisted for several minuets with your arms raised as if a universal injustice was unfolding right before us.

It did not stop there however, until well after the match when you, the assistant coach, pulled her aside and told her "... I was a referee for 35 years and that was a serious decision you missed." Apparently the comment somehow was intended to have some weight to lessen the systemic bullying you heaped on this girl running the line in front of you, by saying something like "I've been there."

I find the premise pathetic, and if you really wanted to help you should have just walked away, or if you really felt compelled to say something like "I'm sorry I lost my head" or "I was a referee and know how hard it is. Thanks for all you are doing today" would have been fine thanks.

Please don't lower our craft by somehow thinking because you wore a referee badge at some time, you are obliged to offer free advise to any referee who strays from your vision of what should happen. Referees don't need that kind of help, from you, or anyone like you.

Referees, all referees, need coaching and support from those involved to allow them to learn the craft.  Now you may feel that is somehow unfair to your team which may have a legitimate opportunity to be crowned the "best team in the state." Let me tell you something, if you are so overwhelmed with that goal such that you are willing to bring a seventeen year old to tears, I would opine your priorities are tremendously out of whack ... and if you think a trophy makes you "champions" you have missed the point completely.

Consider the twist if I were to dissent to your team if they missed a play on the ball or made a wrong decision. Imagine if I shouted from the touchline "you suck #whatever, that was a shitty touch." Can you imagine the fallout if I continued my hypothetical pathetic tirade until she cried. But not to be deterred I had another person with me to say, "It's okay, you were really that bad and I used to play, so I know."

Of course it is not okay.

So why do you both think it is okay to do this to a seventeen year old girl who is serving the game as a referee??

A critical point you both have likely failed to consider is you have likely ended this referees career with your bullying. I can say this because I spoke to her for a while after and she has no real interest in coming back to get screamed at again. I don't blame her and I hope I am wrong, but at the very least, she will not be back tomorrow.

Over 50% of referees didn't come back after two years due largely to "above the game arrogance" like you both demonstrated today. If that was your goal, well done, you have likely succeeded.

In conclusion, I find your collective behavior boorish. For a forty or fifty something to berate a seventeen year old girl to tears and only stop when an adult was present for concern about "getting yelled at" as you stated when the field marshall approached, is a special kind of bully. I can only imagine what the parents of your players would think to see you bring that girl to tears.

I'm fairly certain it's not "what a role model our coaches are."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Buying a Nobel Peace Prize?

Let's go back together in the not so recent past where we experienced several very visceral incidents of blatant racism in The Game. One of the most memorable was regarding Dani Alves who had a brilliant response to having bananas thrown at him. You can see the article describing the whole matter here from CNN and here in Instagram.

FIFA frankly has a horrible record of doing something about this issue inside the field. Recall in 2011 where Sepp had stated that racism could be solved "with a handshake." While I agree with his critics that he is woefully out of touch on the issue and how serious and widespread it is, I also have to give him some credit for the idea.

It is a lesson Jr. and I were talking about just the other day when he came off the field angry at an opponent. I told him to let it go when you leave the pitch ... outside of that rectangle (please note Law 1 requires the field to be a rectangle, not square) it does not matter.

This is actually an ethos I live by in my soccer life. While it can be argued that I am narrow minded to think that by crossing the outside boundary of the field the world changes back to normal, it is a construct I have used for decades now to hold to the fact that The Game is a subset of life, not the other way around.

FIFA has done some excellent, good, bad, dumb, and really dumb things in an effort to try to stop these disgusting practices. While I will not go into them, examples are legion of the full spectrum of efforts. There are a couple that stand out though.

One such notable effort was the appointment of a FIFA EXCO member specifically tasked to combat racism. An excellent Executive level position to give the issue prominence. Jeffery Webb was appointed and gave a good speech in front of the 2013 FIFA congress. However he was recently indicted and dismissed from his positions.

Another effort is "racism monitors" throughout international matches and notably for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Even those however may not be up to the task as we have also seen recently. Now we have the "independent" group Kick It Out that seems to be gaining prominence in UEFA and is tenuously connected to FIFA, but my jury is still out on those guys while the goal is spot on some of the methods are a bit scary (e.g. calling for a referee to never work again who chose not to report an incident that he did not believe was racism or downloading an app from iTunes (here) to report such incidents).

As a final example, and a further note on Sepp's hubris, is the "handshake for peace" program that honestly really first caught my eye at the WWC. Again from above, a great concept albeit a bit too contrived from my taste, but with the backing of the Nobel Peace Center no less to give it gravitas. 

Only one catch, FIFA has been paying for the privilege (almost $1.3M per year since 2013) and it has been reported this is a crushing blow to Sepp personally as he saw himself as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. While it was well understood that Sepp's ego knew no bounds, I was unaware that one could "grease" the Nobel Committee with a paltry $1.2M/year. I would have thought that the Nobel Peace Center would choose a cause an organization like this, as fundamentally it would seem to be a worthy cause for such a group.

Ah when will I learn.



 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Like it, or else?

The Women Are A Cleansing Sorbet...

There's too much football. It's fine to admit it. It's utterly relentless, a bombardment of games and tournaments and friendlies, just when we thought the season was over. The FA Cup final was followed by the Champions League final after which came a couple of England games then the Copa America and oh sweet fancy Moses the European Under-21 Championships is about to start. You start to feel like Roberto Duran being smacked around, but with perpetual football rather than Sugar Ray Leonard's fists. No más, no más, no más. ...

See the whole article here from Football365.com.

Kicking Back Comments:
What a load of crap frankly. Just because people are not jumping up and down about the WWC does not mean they are bad people or don't like The Game, it just means they are not interested or may not be entertained. There was a great reply to this article here on Football365 itself and an even better comment to that article:

"...While I agree with Nick Miller on the England Women's team being refreshing to watch (it's so weird watching football without the diving and swearing at the ref) I'm going to make an appeal to the good writers at F365. Can the next article on women's football not be a hand wringing 'why are people so negative' one like Jonny Nic's was the other week. Can we please have a 16 conclusions, or a preview of the Norway game, or even a profile of a couple of the players. If you want people to take the women's game seriously - then lead the way by giving it some proper coverage. Like you do with the Spanish League for example. A regular weekly column by one of your fine writers would be a much bigger boost to the game then trying to tackle misogyny single handed. Plus I really want to know who's at no. 50 on a WWC ladder! Mike, League 2, BRFC"

Honestly too, if this was true, most of the world would be considered a misogynist as attendance has been heavily inflated (source it look like only 313,411-ish in actual attendance for all matches to date) and while the US and Canada matches are very well attended, it looks like few others are. A real question is why this is the case? Remember from earlier that Canada was the ONLY country to bid on the WWC. Let's face it WWC is just not a money maker in most places. 

It is interesting though. People are about to go to jail and alter their lives forever in trying to get a World Cup into a particular country ... yet only a single country bids on the WWC.

Lets face it folks, it's not about misogyny, it's about money, and there is sadly not much in the women's game today.