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Little Donkey at AvondaleBricksGallery
Enjoy tapas from Little Donkey, Wine Tasting by Athens Imports, Art Exhibition Opening. $15. Friday, November 30, 5-9 p.m.
Visit us during the Avondale/Forest Park Holiday Crafts Bazaar at Avondale Bricks Gallery, 130 41st Street South in Avondale. Must be 21 for wine tasting.
Write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or questions. Thank you for joining the Revolution in Avondale.
Recently, Alabama lost its first game since the 2008 Sugar Bowl, and first regular season since the 2007 Iron Bowl. After facing 2 top-10 teams in a row, the Tide had to travel to Columbia to face the No. 19 South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gamecocks are a talented, fast team coached by Steve Spurrier. The Ol’ Ball Coach always seems to have one really surprising win every season, and this was his day.
South Carolina came flying out of the gates, playing fast and aggressive, determined to hit the defending champs in the mouth and really make them work for every inch. The Gamecocks aggression paid off as they were able to establish an early lead, but more importantly, control the tone and tempo of the game.
On the hard, downhill running of Marcus Lattimore and the strength and athleticism of their tall receivers, South Carolina responded with an impressive drive resulting in the game’s first touchdown – a 9-yard slip screen to Lattimore from QB Stephen Garcia, using the Tide’s aggressive scheme to create an open lane to the endzone. South Carolina was able to get a stop and take the ball back down the field to score to establish their hold with a 14-3 1st quarter lead they never relinquished.
Quarterback Stephen Garcia, the oft-criticized QB, played the game of his life. He repeatedly found his big targets on the outside, mostly Tori Gurley and Alshon Jeffery, who had 7 catches for 127 yards and 2 TDs. Garcia ended up an incredibly efficient 17-20 for 201 yards and 3 TDs. He was steady, avoiding turnovers, and costly mistakes; well, almost avoiding them. He did have 1 interception. Plus, on the Gamecocks opening second-half drive, Garcia went chasing after a snap that sailed over his head towards the endzone. Garcia recovered the ball on the 4… and immediately deciding to throw the ball through the endzone and hit the crossbar of the goal post, resulting in a safety – 2 points for Alabama, plus the ball and the momentum – and left Coach Spurrier scratching his head. The South Carolina fans let out a collective groan and I’m pretty sure Whitesnake’s “Here We Go Again” was playing in the background.
But the South Carolina defense came up big again, holding the Tide to another field goal. This, plus the ‘Bama’s failed fake field goal with the game 28-21, sealed the victory for the Gamecocks.
This was South Carolina’s first ever victory over a No. 1 ranked team.
Two things really stood out to me watching this game: first, the play of QB Greg McElroy and second, the way South Carolina was able to out hustle and be more physical.
Greg McElroy put up pretty good numbers. He ended up throwing for 315 yards and 2 TDs. But something just looked off. He didn’t go all the way through his progressions many times. He looked slow to react to the Gamecocks pressure, often holding the ball far too long which resulted in a sack (7 sacks in total). When his first or second read was open, he delivered the ball confidently and accurately, but he just looked a little slower than normal processing the game. It reminded me a lot of former Auburn QB Brandon Cox, actually. It makes me wonder whether McElroy was totally over his head injury he sustained against the Florida defense last week. It wasn’t considered to be too severe, and he didn’t miss any action last week, but maybe there were some lingering effects.
For Coach Nick Saban, this was a very uncharacteristic performance by one of his teams – especially this team. They looked flat. They made far too many mistakes. They didn’t execute. But most surprisingly, they were pushed around the field. The play-calling, especially in the first half, was gruelingly conservative. Don’t get me wrong, Saban loves to pound it down your throat, but this was different. McElroy didn’t throw the ball further than 10 yards for most of the first half, which allowed the defense to overload the box to stop RBs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. When Ingram and Richardson did run the ball, it seemed like it was either off-tackle right or off-tackle left. There didn’t seem to be any creativity or inspiration behind the play-calling, or the execution. After the game Saban said, “It's not like we just lost. They beat us. They out-executed us. They played better than we played. They played with more intensity. They played physical." Saban is now 1-3 against Spurrier, who, in true Steve Spurrier form, rewarded himself the gameball.
Life in the SEC finally caught up to the mighty Tide. Every week you face a team that is solid, well-coached (except LSU), fast, and can beat you. And every one of those teams is targeting the defending champs and giving them their best. An inexperienced defense and facing their third top 20 team in a row just wore down Alabama. It makes it a lot easy for David to topple Goliath if Goliath has just finished fighting two other giants. But you still have to execute and compete. South Carolina played a nearly flawless game. Just because Goliath was a little tired, doesn't mean David didn't hit it perfectly with his slingshot.
In a statement released Thursday, Bush announced that his decision to return the award was not an admission of guilt or any wrong doing; rather, Bush stated that the decision was motivated out of his respect for the prestige of the award and its previous winners. Citing his recent negative publicity and association with the award, Bush told reporters that he didn’t want to tarnish the reputation of the award in any way. The media is creating the negative attention, guilty or not, so Bush respectfully walked away. At least this is his reasoning.
My question though is this: even if Bush is 100% guilty of the infraction(s) of which he is accused, should those affect his Heisman Trophy?
My personal answer is no. The Heisman Trophy is voted on by members of the media and the elite fraternity of previous winners and given to the player whom they see as the best player in the country based on his on-field performance. I think that is the key here. You can argue that Bush was ineligible – and you would be right to do so; however, that ruling was only made after the fact (5 years for goodness sake), and Bush did play that season. And based on his performance and his ability as one of the most exciting and dynamic college football players ever, he was awarded that year’s trophy. And the vote wasn’t even close. Bush won by a landslide over Texas QB Vince Young.
I think it is a much different argument for USC vacating their team’s championship and any wins in which Bush was playing. The team was using an NCAA ineligible player, in NCAA games, and won an NCAA championship. Bush, on the other, was not cheating personally. He wasn’t caught using any performance-enhancing drugs, or steroids, and using a jet pack, he simply excelled on the field through his own abilities. Plus, the Heisman Trophy is a privately awarded honor, and not directly affiliated with the NCAA. Bush really did play, and on the field, he didn’t cheat, for which the award was given to him.
Either way, what’s done is done. Some are saying that it is a mature move on Bush’s part. Perhaps they are right. I probably wouldn’t have given it up (that probably bodes well for Bush’s maturity). I do applaud the Heisman Trust’s decision to leave the 2005 award vacant, rather than passing in onto another person, presumably Vince Young. If one thing is for certain, he did not win it. Would Young have won it if Bush were not allowed to play that season? Probably. But he did. And he didn’t. I think the Trust got it right in 2005 (barring the National Championship game, and I blame that on Pete Carroll) and right again in 2010. Well done.
Well, not exactly…
While this year’s Iron Bowl was eerily similar to last year’s version, it was more a mirror image rather than a replica. The stakes were much the same. One team was ranked No. 2 in the BCS, undefeated, and had aspirations for an SEC championship and beyond, including a potential Heisman winner. One team’s season was a bit of a disappointment (though the expectations were drastically different, so disappointment is quite relative) and looking to play spoiler. The home team was ranked lower, but came out full of passion and energy to take an early lead. The Heisman candidate was contained for much of the first half. But ultimately, the away team mad adjustments, rallied together, and took the lead on a fourth quarter touchdown that won the game.
Last year it was the Crimson Tide of Alabama that avoided the stumble against rival Auburn. This year it was the Tigers’ turn.
Much like Mark Ingram last year, Heisman hopeful Cam Newton was held in check on the ground, just 39 yards on 22 caries though he did get a touchdown. But unlike Ingram, Newton made up for his lack of running game by passing the ball; he is still a quarterback after all. Newton finished the day 13 of 20 for 216 yards and 3 TDs; but most importantly, he didn’t throw any picks.
Auburn’s much-praised offense was pitiful for most of the first half. In fact, they were down 21-0 before it ever picked up a first down. Really, Auburn only mustered positive yards on one series. Luckily for the Tigers, it ended in a 36-yard pass from Newton to Emory Blake for a touchdown and the Tigers’ only points of the first half.
If the offense was pitiful, Auburn’s much-maligned defense was simply abysmal. The secondary was torched for 300+ yards through the air – most of which was QB Greg McElroy connecting with WR Julio Jones in some miraculous way that transcended mere football. It looked like Jones just willed himself to be open and it was so. Too easy for a QB of McElroy’s ability to miss.
Bryant-Denny was rocking. The Tide players were elated and dominant. The Tigers looked to be finished. In one game, they could see their SEC and national title hopes slipping away, as well as Newton’s hope to be the first junior college transfer to win the Heisman. A terrible day in T-town as mighty Cameron looked to be striking out.
Not so fast, my friend.
Though I have been hard on Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof (and I do think there is much to be desired), he has responded in two straight games with nearly flawless adjustments. Georgia and Alabama scored a combined 13 points in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters of their games against Roof’s defense. But they also scored 42 points in the 1st quarters. But with an offense as explosive as Auburn’s, it doesn’t seem like they are ever out of it.
The Tigers dominated the second half, outscoring the hometown Tide 21-3 capping the biggest comeback for the Tigers in school history. Newton got things back on track, utilizing his often overlooked and frequently undervalued ability as a passer. With Alabama crowding the line, the Tigers took to the air.
But I believe the Tigers won the game good old-fashioned stick-to-it-tiveness. Hustle plays, taking care of the ball, and never giving up were critical to Auburn’s success in their biggest test of the season – biggest crowd, toughest environment, best team, and biggest deficit all wrapped into one. But the Tigers showed heart as they have done all season, coming from behind in 8 of their 12 games. Much like their in-state foes did a year ago, the Tigers refuse to quit and refuse to lose.
What a difference a year makes. The Tigers head to Atlanta this week to play for the SEC championship and a spot in the BCS title game. The Tide wait around to find out which bowl game fate delivers them. The Tigers look to make a clean sweep and add another Heisman trophy to the case to go along with a national title. The Tide think about how close they were to greatness.
What is the difference? The son of a preacher man.
“Mark will definitely be out for this week’s game against San Jose State and we will manage this on a week to week basis beyond this week. We will make every decision in the future based on what’s best for Mark and his career as we consult with Dr. Cain and Dr. Andrews on his progress. This is not an injury that will affect Mark’s future ability to make a full recovery in a relatively short time frame.”
The team is probably hoping that the relatively short time frame will mean Ingram is ready for the second game when #19 Penn State comes to Tuscaloosa. It sounds like Ingram’s injury might be a little more severe if it required two opinions.
But there is good news for the Crimson Tide. Sophomore Trent Richardson is ready to take the bulk of the snaps. Richardson was scheduled to split a lot of carries with Ingram anyway this season. As good as Ingram is and his 2009 season was, many are saying that Richardson could be more explosive and a touch more talented. Must be nice to lose your Heisman-winning running back (even for just one game potentially) and not really have to sweat it. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that San Jose State is coming to town.
But will this hurt – or even kill – Ingram’s chances of repeating as Heisman winner?
I believe so. The offense will plug in Richardson. McElroy will take on a little more responsibility. Even though it might only be for one game, there is no guarantee that Ingram won’t be out longer. He’s already prepared to share the carries and split time with Richardson. A porous San Jose State defense might have been just the thing to get some early padded stats. Not to mention that as the returning winner, Ingram will have to really wow the voters. Anything less than a more spectacular season is likely to be viewed as a disappointment for the voters.
As they say, only time will tell.
The Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals are fighting for first place in the NL Central – literally. After a verbal exchanged between Reds’ 2B Brandon Phillips and Cards’ C Yadier Molina, the benches cleared and pandemonium ensued. It started out pretty tame with some general yelling and name calling, but eventually the mass of people, which started at home plate, moved to the netting behind home plate.
There Chris Carpenter, pitcher for St. Louis, got pushed into the net by Scott Rolen, a former teammate. Johnny Cueto, red hot pitcher for Cinci got pushed into the net as well, where he proceeded to kick any and everyone around him.
Baseball “brawls” are notorious for being drawn out, machismo-infused staring contests. Most of the time both benches clear, everyone runs out onto the field in a rush of uncontrollable anger, tempers flare, and the tension crescendos into a wild fire culminating in … looking (albeit intensely and pointedly).
Standard operating procedure dictates that you take these steps:
Let’s face it. Basically, you get staring, glaring, some yelling. And if you’re lucky, you get some pushing and shoving.
That being said, every once in a while, we get to witness magical moments in baseball bickering, which typically turn out more comical than ferocious. Here are some of my favs:
If you didn't pick up on my Commodores puns, shame on you (thanks Lionel).
Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson announced his retirement as of Wednesday. The news comes as a bit of a shock given the timing of the announcement. Just one week before media day, a few weeks before players report for fall practice, and less than two months before Vanderbilt opens its season against Northwestern on September 4, Coach Johnson is leaving a few people (probably a few players as well) scratching their heads.
According to sources, Johnson has stated this is not a decision made due to health concerns, either for himself or his wife Catherine. Johnson emphasized the fact that it was not a decision made lightly. In fact, he asserts that this is it. The end of the line. All she wrote. Sailing into the sunset...you get the idea. He's not walking away from the Vanderbilt job, he's walking away from coaching, period.
For me, I hate to see him go. I think he was a good coach, who did it the right way, and did more with less than most anyone. While Johnson's record at Vanderbilt was a seemingly sub-par 29-66, he has the fourth most victories in school history. Most impressively, he changed the perception of Vanderbilt from a team you booked for homecoming to beat them 70-0 to a team that can compete with any team on any given day. It seems he won the most important battle of getting his players to believe that. While they are still the 'darlings' of the SEC, their improvement is good for the SEC as a whole.
2008 was Johnson's most successful season at the helm. Johnson got the Commodores as high as #13 in the polls - the national poll, not the SEC (yes, I'm aware there are only 12 teams in the SEC) - beating South Carolina and Auburn, both of whom were ranked in the top 25. Vanderbilt got off to a roaring 5-0 before cooling off a bit. They capped off their dream season with a Music City miracle beating Boston College in the Music City Bowl.
Along the way, Johnson halted many of Vanderbilt's less than flattering skids. 2008 was the team's first winning, well, non-losing season season 1982. I wasn't even alive. He put the ax to a 22-game losing streak to rival Tennessee in 2005, as well as a losing streak to almost every SEC team (I believe 9 in total) during his tenure.
Assistant Coach Robbie Caldwell will assume the reins as Interim Head Coach. I stand by Vanderbilt vice chancellor David Williams in saying I respect Johnson's decision if his heart is no longer in it. It just seems the timing could have been better.
All in all, I think Johnson's absence will be felt not only by Vanderbilt, but the SEC as a whole. You're only as strong as your weakest link, or something sappy like that. I hope Vanderbilt can find someone as classy and driven to run a program like Vanderbilt. It can't be the easiest of jobs. Good luck Bobby.
So this isn’t exactly a local story, but I think that the message hits home in a very real way. There are few things that are more important to people in the South than high school football and religion. Some would say that football becomes religion to many people. We attend weekly services – sometimes two or three times a week (kids in high school, college football a must, and pro football because there isn’t much else to do on Sunday, once church is over of course) - we say many prayers, and even throw up Hail Marys. I believe a wise man once said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I don’t know what the hell it means either, but I’m guessing it has something to do with where you spend your time and energy, that’s what you care about most. Seems simple.
Well, if most of us are being honest, football wins almost every round versus church. Church might win when we tell other people what’s most important, but how often do we decide not to go to church this week because we went out of town for the game, or it was on too late? I say this, not to have a sermon or tell you to go to church, but rather to put into perspective the power of passion and the hold that football has in our lives. We sacrifice a lot for the things we love, and football is no different.
Family vacations, school, youth group, all kinds of things are shuffled around for football. It is important. But God will always be king in the South. Perhaps for no other reason than we don’t want to admit otherwise. Easter and Christmas will always, always win out over any and everything. Church mission trips are viable excuses for getting out of most anything. “Sorry Coach, I’ve got to circumcise orphans in the Philippines” (cheers Timmy) can get you out of the hot sun and those dreaded two-a-days, no questions asked. Well, unless you’re coach is a heathen who only cares about football … and is willing to say it out loud. But what if it could work the other way? What if football could help you practice your faith? What if we didn’t have to choose?
Dearborn High School in Dearborn, Michigan, a predominantly Muslim Detroit suburb, has arranged its football practices around the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims. From sunrise to sunset, Muslims cannot eat or drink. Now I’m no doctor, but it seems like those two things would be kind of important for someone trying to play football, water especially. Never fear, there’s always a solution.
Dearborn High School is holding its practices from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Players are allowed to drink water to their hearts’ content, and grab a granola bar for a little snack. That is something they wouldn’t be able to do in just a few short hours. While practically they needed it for the still grueling practice, they need it for the day to come as well. Avoiding the August heat didn’t hurt either. Ramadan fell during two-a-days this season, something that would have been nearly impossible to achieve with the majority of its players unable to drink or eat.
Dearborn is a highly competitive in the Michigan football world, often competing for the state championship. The team is coming off of a one-loss season, falling just short of the state title. Head coach Fouad Zaban, a former player at Dearborn and a Muslim himself, came up with the idea to avoid sacrificing the two things that mattered most to himself, the players, and most of the community – faith and football.
In an incredible moment of symbiosis, a compromise that avoided sacrificing either actually turned out to strengthen both. Observe holy month? Check. Practice football? Check. Not pass out and die while doing either? Check.
Coach Zaban made it clear that he never forced anyone to fast or even raised the issue; rather it was a compromise born out of necessity – the 95% who do fast. And let’s face it, practicing late at night sure beats practicing in the middle of the Alabama heat. Give me a little sleep deprivation over heat exhaustion any day.
Two-a-days: where faith and football meet. Cheers!
[Editor's Note: This post was written on Aug. 12th, but do to an egregious oversight it and one other will be posted today instead.]
It seems more and more likely that Darrelle Revis, cornerback for the New York Jets, will extend his holdout into the season. Considered by many the top cover corner/shutdown corner (or at least as close to any such thing that exists in the NFL these days thanks to receiver-biased rules) in the league, Revis wants to be the highest paid cornerback in the league, seeking a deal to eclipse the 3-year $45.3 million contract given to Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Revis is scheduled to make $1 million this season, which is part of the deal he held out for 3 years ago.
Reportedly, the Jets have laid out a deal in which Revis would make $120 million over 10 years. That sounds super great, right? Well not to Revis apparently. This would still leave Revis $40 million short of his desire to be paid more per year than Asomugha, who makes just over $15 million per year. Revis would only be making $12 million.
$12 million? Are you kidding me? And it’s a 10 year contract? Unless you are a stud franchise QB, that is unheard of in the NFL. I understand that you want to be compensated what you feel is fair. You think you are the best CB in the league, and widely considered by your peers to be such, but it just seems to me at some point you have to say, “Holy Schnikes that’s a lot of money!”
And you’ve got a chance to be playing for a Super Bowl. At what point does the desire to win and succeed eclipse the narcissistic need for self-worth and recognition? Maybe as a person who couldn’t be further removed from the talent and success of an elite professional athlete I can just never understand. I don’t know.
I guess I can respect the fact of a person trying to make the money they feel they deserve (and to be, what others think they deserve). That amount of money just overwhelms me and I just cease to function logically. But like one ESPN analyst said, if the situation was reversed and Revis was under-performing his contract, then he would just be cut. So it seems logical that he should seek fair compensation.
There is good news though. After Rex Ryan threw down the gauntlet telling both sides to just sit down together, talk it out, and make it happen, both sides did meet and agreed to keep things civil – and most importantly private. Maybe we won't have schmucks like me talking about it anymore. Here’s to hoping they get something worked out, because Revis is a lot of fun to watch.
So what’s the answer?
But paying them isn’t the answer. Perhaps we could alter the definition of ‘paying them’ and increase stipends, or allow them to collect royalties of money made from the use of their likeness. There is certainly not a clear answer, but outright paying players can’t be the answer. It’s still college football. I hope it’s still about kids coming to play football, a game that they love, maybe get an education – a bit ambitious – and experience college and campus life. The atmosphere, the passion, the tradition. You can’t get those in pro football because the players are paid.
Is Nick Saban right? Should we monitor and police the agents? Should we attempt to persuade the NFL to discipline agents who are caught colluding and interfering with college players? Perhaps. It seems like a decent idea. If we can eliminate, or at least reduce, the temptation at its source, then it stands to reason that players wouldn’t fall into the trap. But realistically, we’d probably just create an atmosphere where agents would come up with new and cleverer ways of tampering. There’s just too much money at stake.
Also, I think that Saban (which is seems like a good strategy) is diverting the focus from himself and his team, as well as the responsibility of the colleges as a whole. While I agree with Saban that coaches can’t be everywhere, and they do a great job of monitoring their players to an extent, to assert (lookin’ at you Pete Carroll) that the head coach of a top-flight school doesn’t know where his players are and/or getting brand-new houses seems ludicrous. And if it is true, then that’s just unacceptable. You will be scrutinized harder than anyone. You must be aware of this. If I’m being optimistic to think that players still want to play college football for the experience, you are being optimistic to believe that your players are going to be on their best behavior. Keep tabs. Make your players check-in. I don’t care. Do whatever it takes.
So maybe it’s both. Maybe we police the agents. Maybe we do a better job of policing ourselves. Maybe we just do a more thorough job of screening to whom we give our scholarships.
[Editor's Note: I would like to welcome John Easterling to the Birmingham Weekly fold. John will be writing and blogging about sports for us, and he's started us off here with a passionate look back at the World Cup Weekend. Enjoy the first of what I hope to be many great posts under the "X's & O's" banner. Also, I've taken the opportunity to attach some photos I took at the Sloss World Cup Event on Sunday at the end of the post.]
Well, it couldn’t have been less of an “American-style” final. A game, a beautiful game, full of all the things that are supposedly wrong with soccer and why Americans can’t embrace the love affair that is International Football – the fouls, the flops, low scoring, no breaks, the arguing, the acting. This game had it all.
Right from the opening whistle, the tone of play of the 2010 World Cup Final was established as a game full of bookings, aggressive (if not dirty) tackles, high emotion, missed chances, and close calls. The first booking – a yellow card for Van Persie, the Dutch Forward – occurred within the first five minutes. By the twenty-fourth minute, the fourth yellow card had been issued, which put the game well ahead of the pace for record bookings in a Final (which was six). The game finished with an astounding thirteen total bookings.
The first half was largely uneventful in the way of scoring chances until the Netherlands established a foothold in the Spanish box in the last minutes. No goals ultimately as the teams went to half scoreless.
The second half, however, was saturated with missed chances and un-taken opportunities. Arjen Robben failed to deliver on two chances on fast breaks inside Spain’s box. Andres Iniesta and Xavi continued to pass on shooting chances, choosing to distribute the ball to teammates instead, resulting in loss of possession. Sergio Ramos sailed a header over the bar despite being unmarked on a corner. Wesley Sneijder, who has been arguably the most exciting player of the entire tournament, was non-existent for the vast majority of the match. Despite the increase of chances for both teams, the game lacked the electricity and excitement of distance goals so prevalent in the third place game the day before, and tournament as a whole.
Spain dominated the midfield and the Dutch counterattacked.
There was a moment as the second overtime was beginning in which announcer Efan Ekoku predicted a likely outcome of penalty kicks. And it certainly appeared that way. But then, in a moment that seemed to define the whole game, Fernando Torres sent in a lackluster cross that just wasn’t cleared but the Dutch defense. The ball fell right to Cesc Fabregas who sent a beautiful ball to Andres Iniesta who finally… freaking… shot. And guess what? GOOAALLLLLL!! It was the latest World Cup goal in the history of the Finals (116’). A broken play. A beautiful goal. A breathtaking game.
Spain went on to win 1-0, capturing its first World Cup title. Other firsts Spain achieved include the first team to win it all after losing its first game and the first European team to win outside of Europe and the first team to win on African Soil.
Now that it’s all said and done, and that fat ole lady has sung, I’m struck by one thought. One word continues to race over and over in my mind – passion. As a lifetime resident of Birmingham, Alabama, passion is definitely a word that resonates within me. Passion about college football. Passion about sweet tea. All too often, passion about division. If you even mention the word ‘Auburn’ or ‘Alabama’ be prepared to have a – let’s say heated – discussion. We’re very good at being “us versus them.” We like to separate ourselves from other countries. Heck, we even separate ourselves out within our country. And that’s not even mentioning the other division Birmingham is famous for.
Soccer is no different. Even though it is growing and gaining support, it is still relegated to the sidelines and backseats. Supposedly, Americans need more action and they need it now. Give us ten seconds of excitement then let us return to our beers and bathrooms and conversations until you’re ready to give us another ten seconds. But I saw something special during this World Cup. I saw millions of Americans holding their breath for 90 minutes at a time. When Landon Donovan scored against Algeria, the euphoria and ecstasy couldn’t be contained. It was released in an nationwide explosion of relief, joy, and amazement.
This is what carries over into American culture. We live for those moments of greatness. Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, full count. Fourth quarter, no timeouts, down by six from the 35-yard-line. :03 left on the clock, down by two, in bound and shoot from half court. We live for those moments of drama. I think soccer translates wonderfully here. Each goal can count for so much. Almost every game is a huge build up to a dramatic moment. That’s not even mentioning PKs, which are about as high drama as it gets.
The World Cup being on African soil for the first time brought out the best of what sports can be. An entire nation, an entire continent, an entire world celebrating the beauty of one pursuit – winning. No, not winning. Playing the game beautifully. Playing with heart. Playing with passion.
Seeing the enthusiasm and pride upon the faces of the South African hosts for the first game as their team stepped onto the field, especially when one of their own became the first human being to score a World Cup goal on African soil was a special moment I’ll never forget.
Images of entire towns, cities, and countries stopping everything to be a part of something bigger than themselves will never fade from my memory. Faces, colors, and boundaries blurred together into pictures of excitement, ecstasy, despair, and anguish. The World Cup had become a world canvas for us to paint a new picture of hope. This is the beauty of sports. This is the beauty of passion. Just leave out the vuvuzelas next time.