Debating William & Mary, sports and culture since 2011. Updated every Wednesday.

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Glorious Revolution

In Basketball, Football, William & Mary on May 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Evaluating William and Mary’s future in a post-CAA world.

It’s springtime in Virginia. The year’s shad has been planked, flowers are blooming and the days are meandering through that languid period between bitter winter and oppressive humidity. If you’re a sports fan, last season’s shortcomings have vanished amid the seductive promise of recruiting updates and conference reshufflings.

Unless you’re a William and Mary sports fan. Read the rest of this entry »

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2012 CDH March Madness Breakdown: Part 3

In Basketball on March 15, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Due to the indubitably brilliant publishing strategy of sending forth our picks for Friday’s quarters of the bracket before Thursday’s, I’m writing this during a free moment at work about an hour after the East regional has begun. In full disclosure mode, Kansas State is leading Southern Mississippi 30-27 at the half in a game that has earth-shattering repercussions for my bracket.

No, really. I currently belong to the roughly 37 percent of Americans who panicked on Tuesday and removed Syracuse from their Final Four when Fab Melo — displaying the scholarly acumen of a young Karl Marx by deeming the whole class thing an arbitrary concept imposed by social elites to inspire rigid social hierarchies on a pliable economic system — was ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the 2012 season. Read the rest of this entry »

Peyton Place

In Football on February 4, 2012 at 11:36 am

Crim Del Harris concludes its three part Super Bowl Extravaganza with a journey deep into the human psyche, where the lines between man and Manning vanish and football civilization recedes with every chop block. Read part I here, part II here and part II 1/2 here

I’d been six days since leaving the exact center of the world. At least it was the exact center of the world on the evening of February 5. By this time, Indianapolis, Indiana had likely retreated to the provincial midwest backwater that typically spent its winters enthralled in the bucolic purity of high school hoops. I was no longer in basketball country; the swampy darkness of the Louisiana night, still as the alligators that patrol its murky waters, is ruled by a much different god.

Read the rest of this entry »

A conflicted rebirth

In Best of CDH, Football on September 7, 2011 at 11:22 am

Thunder… Da Na Na Nana Na Na… Thunder… Da Na Nana Na Na

The opening chords of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck are among the most overused in major sports, fast becoming as nauseating as the wave. Angus Young’s opening guitar riff permeates a filling stadium or arena, giving way to his staccato vocals and a booming bass line. Any intended drama is dwarfed by its pervasiveness.

Thunder… Da Na Na Nana Na Na… Thunder… Da Na Nana Na Na

Except Monday night. With a national television audience peering in on a sold out and rocking Byrd Stadium, the Maryland Terrapins managed to create a visual and sensory experience so overwhelming, so irresistible that it managed to penetrate even today’s schizophrenic media climate. Maryland’s 2011 debut had the entire sports world talking, often not in the positive, but since when has that mattered? The evening served as the climax of a complete and total rebranding of the sports program, one intended to make the Terps into a cultural and on-field powerhouse with national recognition. But along the way, could that force fans to come to terms with the very ethos that defines their institution? Read the rest of this entry »

Bushwhacked

In Football, William & Mary on September 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

It was just over five minutes into the third quarter when sheer and utter panic began to set in for the Tribe faithful. Or, rather, it would have if the Tribe faithful were of the type prone to hysteriatrics. William and Mary fans happen to be a more stoic bunch, a trait that will be sorely needed in the aftermath of Saturday’s 40-3 loss in Charlottesville.

It’s been three years since the Tribe received a shellacking comparative to that laid by the Virginia Cavaliers. That previous iteration saw the squad go into James Madison’s Bridgeforth Stadium and get bushwhacked 48-24. That game took place before back to back playoff appearances and numerous high profile wins raised the stature of the College’s football program, but all those honors mattered little at Scott Stadium. Bushwhacked still summed up the result.

So with that in mind, the matter at hand now turns to what to make of the Tribe’s demoralizing start to the season. The proper attitude was best described by linebacker Dante Cook after the game, “They always say it’s not as good as you think, but it’s never as bad as you think.”

Mike London trotted out a team that was far improved from the squad the Tribe easily handled in 2009. More importantly, the Cavaliers played with a chip on their shoulder, coming out and hitting the College with an early intensity that never faded. Virginia was a step faster, a tad bigger, and seemingly drastically more motivated in this version of the interstate rivalry. Read the rest of this entry »

Hope

In Football, Long form on August 18, 2011 at 9:13 am

“To hope, and not be impatient, is really to believe.”

— George Meredith

That a semi-obscure Victorian poet could so succinctly capture the essence of the ever-evolving modern sports fan speaks to the permanence of its makeup. George Meredith had likely never heard of the emerging game of base ball when he inked those words in 1871, but he did linger just long enough to possibly catch news of the Chicago Cubs’ last world championship before his death in 1909. While he knew nothing about modern sport, he would have fit neatly into the present culture of fandom for he understood the one characteristic that is both ubiquitous and immutable in at least the American classification of that genre: hope, or the unshakeable belief that a team’s future representatives will surely trump the current batch.

This is most neatly illustrated each August 15, a date which, on the sports calendar, formerly sat wholly empty. August 15 represents the deadline by which drafted baseball players must sign with their respective organizations, two months after MLB’s annual June entry draft. It has become a cat and mouse affair, in which agent and general manager circle each other warily, driven by the need to maximize value against the imperative to satisfy the client. Failure, when too frequent, means termination. Read the rest of this entry »

Stagnation

In Long form, Soccer on August 10, 2011 at 8:58 am

At first glance, international soccer would seem to be the last refuge of the xenophobe. In few other contexts is it considered acceptable for the most genteel of Brits to intone combative verses celebrating the downing of World War II German bombers. The stereotypically neutral Swiss suddenly hate everybody. And Paraguayans morph into bellicose brawlers, particularly when hated Uruguay is involved. Even the impeccably mannered Japanese get involved, with nationalist chanting reverberating throughout a recent Asian Cup match against China.

Those tensions rapidly fade, however, when foreign players suddenly switch nationalities to suit up for a host nation. The United Arab Emirates—a society open in its pursuit of oil wealth, but regrettably despicable in its treatment of immigrant workers—was downright gleeful when Brazilian Alexandre Oliveira, a prolific striker who was an immigrant worker that just happened to play professional soccer, announced his intentions to suit up for Al Abyad. The Brazilian Alex has also found instant acceptance in another predominantly closed society, Japan, when featuring on the left side of the Japanese midfield. Throughout the world, players have switched nationalities like never before to maximize their international potential by flocking to weaker national sides—the most striking aspect of the oft-debated role of globalization in international sport.

Yet in many ways, the United States has existed apart from this construct. In others, it fully embodies it.

What does xenophobia mean for a much celebrated nation of immigrants? In a region in which the original inhabitants comprise 0.8% of the population, no single race is able to constitute more than a plurality, and 13% of citizens are born abroad?

These are questions without clear and direct answers. But they form the crucible into which a German steps as United States Men’s National Team head coach. Read the rest of this entry »

The Blacktop

In Basketball, Long form on August 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

The rhythm begins at four each Sunday, flowing out over the quiet neighborhood streets from the blacktop. It’s an outdoor court, and asphalt, so the familiar squeak of sneakers does not mingle with the grunts and dribbles of the players. Just bouncing basketballs, punctuated by the occasional clang of a bricked jumper. On this certain Sunday, the smothering heat cools the pace of the game to a languid crawl, every movement balanced against the desire for an economy of motion. Speech is a luxury in the afternoon’s dense humidity, and even trash talk is rare. The swish of the net is even less frequent.

Basketball is often compared to smooth jazz, but this iteration demonstrates the fickleness of that construct. Jazz musicians age gracefully, their craft maturing, becoming more enchanting with time. Wayne Shorter warming a smoky club late into his 70s. Basketball players creep ever upward, their spring and quickness fading as their paunches grow.

And these men were once basketball players, some time ago. Now they are lawyers, lobbyists and financial advisors, one doctor. But each Sunday afternoon they are basketball players. They are once again the Woodward High School Wildcats of 1974-75.

That Woodward High School no longer exists, it was folded into a nearby school in the 1980s and the building is now a middle school, is a fitting metaphor for these men’s basketball ability. They play as if they can still drain long three-pointers, turn their man in the lane for an easy backdoor layup, and sprint back to stifle a fast break with an emphatic block. They can’t. Read the rest of this entry »

A Harmless Obsession

In Long form, Soccer on August 3, 2011 at 10:58 am

Few weeks have been as depressing as the one that began July 4 for the general tone of media in this country. The nation was undergoing a debt crisis that ranks among the most serious economic threats in its history. In the past months, natural disasters had killed hundreds throughout the country, including floods and tornadoes that have destroyed countless communities. Abroad, a popular uprising in Syria has resulted in the deaths of thousands, while a civil war rages in Libya, both events that have profound impacts on the United States and its foreign policy. Indeed they are all still occurring.

And the country was riveted on Casey Anthony.

I work in a Washington, D.C. office which, like many across the news-obsessed city, blares CNN non-stop. For several days, on that channel, one would be hard-pressed to realize that there was a world outside of a courtroom in Florida, and the world that did exist beyond the narrow scope of those TV news cameras seemed disinterested in its own happenings. Twitter and Facebook were consumed with tweets and status updates reacting to the trial, while the networks interviewed breathless onlookers outside the courthouse who had traveled great distances and seemingly took great pleasure in emotionally involving themselves in the case.

The entire scene was sickening, driving home the most infuriating elements of American culture with a sledgehammer’s delicacy.

It also somewhat reaffirmed my interest and faith in sports. Read the rest of this entry »

Midnight in America

In Culture on July 31, 2011 at 5:38 pm

There’s a point during the recently opened Woody Allen extravaganza Midnight In Paris when Owen Wilson, embodying the idealistic protagonist, expels a brief, but passionate rant against the low brow of American culture. In a highly effective 15 seconds, he manages to harangue the cliched, mass-produced Hollywood movie climate, avaricious Wall Street corporations, George W. Bush, and the spread of the Tea Party all in an involuntarily-emitted discharge that laments the downfall of romance and nostalgia in our society in a clear us versus them dichotomy. The rant is not so much aggressive as entirely natural; it’s clear the lines come straight from the mouth (or pen) of Woody Allen and it’s as if he cannot even imagine a world in which he could hold back that opinion. With emotions spurred by the interwoven scenes of an idealized contemporary Paris, it’s likely that 90% of Allen’s audience(i) would be ready to join in those sentiments with a kind of culturalistic fervor.

Upon exiting the theater, I really had one and only thought to share with my companions: “Woody Allen really is turning into the new Michael Bay.” Read the rest of this entry »

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