The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Dave Long

Sports Glossary

Ann Coulter: Mean-spirited, liberal-media-obsessed, often delusional and shrill member of the U.S. political right wing. Not likeable in any way, but got to give her credit for knowing her game – in that by riling up people on the left, she juices her book sales from people on the right. I mean why else would anyone write a book selling the notion that gin-soaked red-baiter Joseph McCarthy was an American hero? No one’s that dumb, unless they’re doing it all the way to the bank. 
The Mike Tyson - Tree Rollins Take-A-Bite-Out-Of-Crime Videos: They chronicle the two most famous bites in sports history. The first happened in a can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees scrum between the Celtics and Atlanta in the 1987 playoffs, when as usual Danny Ainge was the target of the opponent’s ire and after his finger somehow was inserted into the mouth of 7-foot Wayne Tree Rollins in the pile-up the big fella chomped down, sending Danny for stitches. The latter came some years later during a heavyweight bout when Iron Mike Tyson clamped down and ripped off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear while in a clinch. 
Michigan 1989 NCAA Tournament: After Bo threw out Arizona State-bound turncoat Bill Frieder, the Wolverines rolled through the tournament behind star Rumeal Robinson and newly elevated former assistant Steve Fischer to win the NCAA Tournament by beating Seton Hall and former NHC head man PJ Carlesimo in the Final.

2014 World Cup runneth over

By Dave Long

 The World Cup concludes on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro after an eventful month. It has reached all-time highs in terms of TV audiences in the U.S., and enthusiasm for the event has swept across our country like it never has before. That’s a good thing, I think, because while I’m not the hugest soccer guy, it is interesting being there at the moment that something grabs the attention of the public and becomes adopted as part of the culture. Not quite The Beatles hitting America in 1964, but similar.

In fact, when looking back 20 years from now at the U.S. reaction to the 2014 World Cup, as an event it will probably be compared to what happened to pro football after the famous sudden-death overtime game between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts in the 1958 NFL championship game. That game is generally credited with being the moment the NFL truly connected with the American sporting public after 40 years of being a fringe sport far behind baseball, boxing, horse racing, college football, track and field and likely tiddlywinks in public stature. The question is, will soccer, the game, get the same bounce out of the worldwide event in 2014, or will it remain like track and field is today in non-Olympics years when no one besides track athletes and their parents cares a whit about it?
So bearing in mind that I had to file this before the teams for the finals were decided, here’s the take-away from the month-long spectacle from someone who was a kinda, sorta interested observer going in. First, the glass-is-half-full side:
Don’t know about you, but I liked seeing the smug Brits get sent packing after just two games. Ditto for the Italians.
I’d say the World Cup is a mix of the one-and-done nature of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the Olympics — though with much greater passion. I mean when was the last time someone bit another competitor in the Olympics? The closest was the Tonya Harding affair, but that was done by a couple of real rocket scientists to eliminate the competition before it started. 
However, the mini-round robin the WC uses to start the tournament before it goes to single- elimination knockout round is great. Because after waiting four long years for the WC to arrive, getting to see your country play three times no matter what happens is good.
Speaking of Luis Suarez, now that the “I tripped” excuse didn’t fly, what’s the next story — (a) his shoulder got in the way of my mouth, (b) an insanity plea that says instead of “timeouts” when he was bad, his parents made him watch videos of Mike Tyson and Tree Rollins in action as a kid, or (c) he was on LSD, thought he was the pit bull Dick Cheney and covering President Obama on the play in question?
No question about it: soccer has the best names for their all-name team.
Alexi Lalas went from looking like a goat when he was a player, to a political operative as a TV analyst. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Someone finally moved ahead of Rush Limbaugh’s laughable “the ‘liberal media’ wanted Donovan McNabb to succeed at QB because he was black” in the annals of most idiotic media statements ever made about sports. The new leader is Ann Coulter for her rant against the “liberal media” and politically correct soccer moms, and her bigoted “no one whose great-grandfather was born here is watching the World Cup” notion, which she says is a symbol of “moral decay.” I guess having no kids and near double-digit broken engagements makes her the arbiter of morality. 
Best of all was the tidal wave of change in attitudes by the old-school sports fans who gave it a chance much more than in years gone by.
Now for the glass-is-half-empty comments; pardon me for saying this to the folks who don’t think you should be allowed to criticize this event.
Time to pump the brakes on how well the Americans played don’t you think? Yes they played hard and put on a good show. They did survive the Group of Death, but they won once, lost TWICE and tied once — and the tie was a major choke on their part. Progress maybe, but nothing major. 
I’m not sure if Jürgen Klinsmann’s comment about “having no chance to win” was pure honesty or setting himself to slip any blame or look like a genius depending on how it all worked out. Ultimately he turned out to be right, but somehow I can’t imagine Herb Brooks telling his hockey team that before the 1980 Olympics.
I have nothing against Klinsmann, but an American should be coaching our national team. I’m like Bo Schembechler when he fired Bill Frieder on the eve of the 1989 NCAA Basketball Tournament after word slipped out he was headed to coach Arizona State the next year by saying in one of the all-time great press conferences, “I want a MICHIGAN MAN coaching Michigan.” Sorry, it says we’re not good enough and I hate that. 
So which gets the biggest bump from the new enthusiasm for WC around the country? The World Cup as a highly anticipated event, as the Olympics are? Or the game of soccer that’s trying to grow beyond its niche status in the professional ranks?
The bottom line: Good show, well done from an entertainment standpoint by all and I learned a little more. But we still have a way to go on the field and after playing the game seriously here for over 40 years I ain’t buying that elite teams are better because of their training methods. That sounds like an excuse to me.   
Stay tuned for my next soccer, er, fútbol column in the summer of 2016.
Email Dave Long at 
As seen in the July 10, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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