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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Tom Brady Discusses his 19th Training Camp

This week on Sportuality, we interview five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady about his return to training camp. Has his approach changed heading into season number 19? What was behind his decision to arrive early?

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The NFL is a money-making machine. We attend the games. We buy the jerseys. We watch, listen to, and read the news. Heck, tens of millions of us work unpaid side jobs as fantasy football owners.

None of that happens without the players. None. They are the engine that makes this whole thing go.

As training camp begins, let’s not forget that. Let’s not get so caught up in the rumors and the hot takes that we miss the fact that football is everything to these guys; that this sport is what gives their lives purpose.

To learn more about how our gridiron heroes feel heading into camp, and what they do to prepare for the grueling weeks ahead, we decided to interview one. He’s pretty good.

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ROS: You turn 41 this week. This is your 19th training camp. Naturally, one would expect your approach to be different at this stage in your career. Maybe you try to enjoy the process a little bit more, savor the small moments. Does any of that ring true?

Tom Brady: Over the last few seasons I’ve become a lot more aware of time, […]

2018-07-29T19:14:26+00:00

The Final Whistle

The Final Whistle

It’s been a week since the 2018 World Cup ended and honestly, I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to write this final piece of my immersion project.

There are three reasons why this has been difficult, and because everything worth sharing can be shared in list format, here you go:

1 – It’s hard to end things.

Ending things is hard, just ask your ex, England’s soccer team, or the writers of LOST. (For the record, LOST is my favorite television show of all time, and I loved the finale.)

2 – I’ve said almost everything I wanted to say about soccer.

I wrote 17 pieces in 30 days while watching the World Cup, and those posts captured how I was feeling in the moment better than any recap I could try to write now. I watched four games in one day, handed out awards, answered your questions, tried to fix multiple sports, learned some lessons, and even skipped church to watch soccer.

(As a reminder, you can read all the pieces here.)

I didn’t know I had that much to say about anything, nevermind soccer.

And finally (and most importantly)…

3 – This is not the end of my soccer journey.

2018-07-24T15:36:59+00:00

The Final: A Running Diary

The Final: A Running Diary

It’s game number 64 of 64 in the 2018 World Cup!

I’ve made it to the end and have some seen some great soccer over the last four weeks. I’m so excited for the next two hours that I’m breaking out the running diary again! Here we go…

10:54am – The teams come out to The White Stripes’ “7 Nation Army” and all I can think about is Jack White swimming in a pool of money like Scrooge McDuck. Does he make royalties because this is being broadcast all over the world?  

10:57am – Before kicking it to the announcers, studio host Rob Stone says, “it will go down as the greatest World Cup ever,” and it’s not the first time I’ve heard him emphatically say this. Are we sure about this? Is everyone in agreement? I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it has been pretty great.

11:00am – The countdown goes to zero, and Croatia plays it backwards to start the game. Here we go!

11:05am – I’m not sure who I’m pulling for, to be honest.

11:10am – In case you’re wondering, yes, I did skip church this morning to watch this final. My wife Erica is upstairs watching services online right now, and I can hear Pastor Sam giving a spirited message.

11:19am – GOOOOAAALLLLL! The set piece leads to an own goal as the free kick glances off […]

2018-07-15T17:36:25+00:00

Where Do We Go from Here?

Where Do We Go from Here?

“So, you’re going to follow soccer now?”

I’ve received that question in some form or fashion almost every day for the last week.

The short answer to that question is, “I think so.”

The long answer is, “I think so, but I’m not really sure what that even means.”

I think I summed it up best in a conversation with my buddy Tyler the other day when he asked me that very question. “If this was The Bachelor,” I responded, “I would not be getting on one knee with a Neil Lane diamond ring to propose to soccer, but I would be giving it the final rose to keep the relationship going.”

That’s where I stand with soccer heading into the final two days of the tournament. It’s too early to put a ring on it, but I absolutely want to see where this goes.

So what are my potential next steps, and how likely am I to take them?

Here are five possibilities.

1 – Attend a live soccer game.

The MLS Season runs through October, so there’s still plenty of time to attend a game if I want to experience soccer in person. The Philadelphia Union play about an hour away, and for less than $50 a pop I can get a decent seat.

I’m definitely not ready to fly somewhere to take in a marquee soccer matchup, but a night […]

2018-07-14T18:33:43+00:00

The World Cup Doesn’t Take a Vacation

The World Cup Doesn’t Take a Vacation

Two things happened this week that I never thought would have thought could have occurred.

1) I never thought I’d be distracted from a round of golf by a soccer game, and 2) I never thought I’d be sitting on a beach trying to figure out where I was going to find a television to watch the World Cup.

What has happened to me?

We’d had this 3-day vacation booked for a few months now, long before I ever had the idea to immerse myself in the 2018 World Cup. I’m not a huge beach fan, but this quick trip to Avalon, N.J., with some good friends of ours was something our family had been looking forward to for a while. The plan was to arrive on Monday morning and do a whole lot of nothing until we left early Wednesday evening. And then the World Cup happened.

The two semi-final games were scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, which posed a little bit of a problem for me. In addition to booking our stay a couple of months ago, my buddy had also booked a tee time for late Tuesday morning at a local golf course. I had scheduled the DVR at home to record both games in case I wanted to watch them later, but I knew that for the France vs. Belgium game on Tuesday, I was going to be relying on real-time updates on […]

2018-07-13T00:21:54+00:00

What Soccer Can Give and Take from Other Sports

What Soccer Can Give and Take from Other Sports

I’ve never been a soccer fan, as you know, but I do love consuming massive quantities of televised sports every year. From the NFL to the NBA to following the Red Sox and the PGA Tour all summer, I’m a sports junkie.

As I’ve consumed World Cup soccer this past month, I’ve picked up on a few things that soccer could be better at, and also a few things other sports could learn from the beautiful game. That’s why I’d like to propose the first ever set of trades between sports. And no, I’m not talking about trading players, I’m talking about trading ideas and concepts.

Sounds crazy? More like crazy awesome. Without further ado, here are five hypothetical trades that would make the sports world a better place.

TRADE #1 – Soccer trades yellow and red cards to basketball in exchange for proper inbounding.

I’ve never understood the “fouling out” rule in basketball. Whether it’s the five you get in college or the six in the NBA, it’s one of the worst rules in all of sports. No one watches games to see referees keep star players off the court! Basketball needs to take a page from soccer and have no limit to the amount of fouls a player can receive. Implement yellow and red cards for egregious fouls, but let players keep playing for the minor infractions. The free throws awarded the other team are […]

2018-07-09T19:57:23+00:00

The Great Soccer Divide

The Great Soccer Divide

Since I left my career as an engineer in the pharmaceutical industry six years ago, I’ve been involved in a handful of projects and opportunities.

I’ve written a humor book, freelanced for a tech startup, launched (and shuttered) a business helping folks travel on frequent flyer miles, written an NFL preview guide, and started 3 podcasts. I’ve done a lot of things and have received a lot of feedback – some positive, some negative – on everything I’ve done.

But nothing, and I mean NOTHING that I’ve done has even come close to garnering as much feedback as this World Cup immersion project.

Everyone here in the United States seems to have an opinion about soccer, and they can’t wait to let me know what it is. I’m never had this type of experience with a project before, and honestly, I’ve never heard such passionate opinions about a sport before.

Football is still the most popular sport here in America. Basketball, specifically the NBA, is probably the fastest growing sport in popularity. Baseball is the most storied in tradition and history. Where does that leave soccer in America? Do we just group it together with hockey, tennis, golf, auto racing, and extreme sports as some kind of a second-tier, niche-only, pastime?

I don’t think we can do that.

Because soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and because Americans love to think we’re at the […]

2018-07-07T16:30:32+00:00

Are PK’s OK?

Are PK’s OK?

Can we talk about penalties for a minute?

(And yes, by “penalties” I mean “penalty kicks.” Don’t think I haven’t started picking up on the little nuances of soccer jargon over these last three weeks.)

As someone who is investing himself into multiple soccer games per day, every day, for the first time ever, I feel like we need to discuss this.

Every sport has a way of figuring out a winner when a regulation-length competition is not enough. Some sports choose to alter their format to ensure a winner is decided in a timely fashion, others opt for keeping things the same no matter how long it takes.

Soccer has chosen the former over the latter, but does this newbie think it’s the right decision? Are penalties the best way to determine the winner of a soccer match if no winner has been determined in regulation? I have the correct answer, but before I give it to you, a little background.

Baseball, basketball, and hockey fans will tell you that their sports have chosen integrity over convenience. If no winner has been decided during the normal course of play, normal play keeps going. Baseball adds innings, basketball adds 5-minute periods, and hockey adds a sudden-death 20-minute period.

In all three of these sports, there is no limit to how long the game can go. The upside is that no one complains about the integrity of a win, […]

2018-07-05T13:10:10+00:00

Blinded by the Bright Lights

Blinded by the Bright Lights

I’m not sure who was more bummed out on Saturday evening, me or the executives from FOX.

Messi? Gone. Ronaldo? Gone. The promise of an epic matchup next Friday between the game’s two biggest names on Friday disappeared in the blink of an eye, like a Mbappé one-timer into the back of the net.

I came into Saturday’s games, the first of the Knockout Stage, ready to see the stars shine. I think I’m starting to appreciate good team soccer, but as a relative newbie, I’m still drawn most to the brightest lights on the pitch. If I’m not watching the ball (which I almost always am), I’m looking for the stars.

That’s why Saturday was such a letdown for me. Was it poor play from Lionel and Cristiano that sent them home? Was it a sound defensive strategy from their opponents? Maybe you know the answer to that, but I have no idea. All I know is that those guys didn’t score or even touch the ball as much as I wanted them to.   

This was Lionel Messi’s fourth World Cup. I’ve heard that he has underachieved for his national team on this stage, and while six goals in four World Cup appearances isn’t great, I’ll admit, 14 wins, 2 draws, 4 losses, and 4 straight knockout stage appearances seems like a great run, right? Which brings us back to Saturday, where Messi […]

2018-07-02T23:42:59+00:00