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Mud in my Studs2018-09-28T21:05:02+00:00

Free-kick interference? Deal a card

It happens on nearly every free kick. A player on the offending team runs over and stands in front of the ball so the other team can’t play it quickly. Only when the ref intervenes does the offending player move. By then, any chance for a quickly played spot kick has been dashed. Why is this allowed? It’s yet another stain on the integrity of the game. The first time it happens, the ref should warn the offender. If a player on that team does it a second time, that’s a yellow card. That’s one way to root out

Oh, Brother

Lisa, a recreation director, was running a summer swim team at a community pool in Greensboro, N.C. One boy, age 11, was the star swimmer in the 11-12 age group. His brother, age 6, swam in the eight and under group, meaning he was competing against some boys two years older. On Saturdays, teams would hold open meets where everyone could swim. They would run enough heats so that everyone would receive a ribbon, even the swimmer with the slowest time. The 6-year-old would swim in these meets. On Sundays, they would hold the more competitive meets, where only

That’s my daughter’s back-up

A high school senior decided she would attend a liberal-arts school in Virginia. A few days later, her mother ran into an acquaintance in the supermarket, and they got to talking about their daughters’ college choices. “Where is Amanda going?” asked the acquaintance. “She plans to attend xxx College,” her mother said. “Oh,” replied the acquaintance, “that’s my daughter’s back-up school.”

Colored lights might hypnotize…

Every December, a nearby town is gripped by white-light fever. House by house, residents string up white lights to celebrate the holidays. But only white lights. For some reason, colored lights don’t cut it. Most lights are wrapped around trees and bushes and lampposts. But now and then someone is bold enough to try a new theme. When that theme catches on, people fall in line. They do not want to be different. One year, someone hung icicles on the front of the roof. These icicles were a nice change of pace. The next year, dangling from what seemed

The Coach Who Stole Thanksgiving

The coach who stole Thanksgiving The coach of a high school basketball team holds tryouts on the three days after Thanksgiving. These mandatory sessions take place on Friday at 9 a.m., Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning and afternoon. Any player who misses a single tryout is cut from the team, no exceptions. Any family that travels out of the area for Thanksgiving dinner must return home that night or early the next morning. In this coach’s eyes, basketball tryouts are more important than our most treasured family holiday.

It’s all about Loyalty

“It’s all about loyalty,” until they switched teams A father spent four years assembling a highly competitive travel team for girls, first at age 9 and on through age 12. During this time the father, who served as team manager, was careful to build the roster with girls committed to one another and to winning as a team. He weeded out a few selfish players and assembled a squad that could compete with the best teams produced at the half-dozen soccer “factories” in the state. He instilled a sense of camaraderie, teamwork, and loyalty. The girls liked each other.

Tennis, anyone?

Jill signed up her daughters, ages five and seven, for tennis lessons at an indoor club in Vista, N.Y., on the border of Fairfield County, Conn. She requested that her daughters be grouped together, a request that was approved by a club employee. Upon showing up for the first lesson, Jill learned that her girls would be grouped with two other girls, both 8-year-olds. As the girls warmed up with their instructor, the mother of one of the eight-year-olds approached Jill. “Are you the mother of that girl?” she asked, pointing to Jill’s five-year-old. “Yes.” “How old is she?”

Too slow to throw

For too long we have tolerated time-wasting on throw-ins. Players protecting a lead have turned clock-milking into an art form. They amble to the ball. They pretend to wipe it dry. They rear back, only to fake the toss while gaining a few yards and burning a few more seconds. Next, they express mock frustration at their motionless mates. Sometimes, early in this charade the thrower hands off to another teammate. A few tweaks to the rules would end this chicanery. One, whoever handles the ball first has to throw it in. If that player gives up the ball,

She’s a special player, just ask her dad

Jim took up a spot on the sideline for his daughter’s first travel soccer game. As the game began, another father, Teddy, stepped up beside him. Quickly, Jim learned that Teddy held his own daughter in especially high regard. “Take it all the way, Kris!” Teddy bellowed. “Only four more players to beat, Kris!” The ball is lost in a tangle of legs. “Oh, Kris, great job!” A minute later, Kris is dribbling up field again, and Teddy is foaming again. “Go Kris, that’s you Kris. Beautiful, Kris! Oh, do I love that girl.” Teddy’s stamina was remarkable; he

Travel team prisoner

Scott has a 16-year-old son who plays soccer. The boy had played on the same travel team from age eight through age 15. Frustrated at the team’s lack of success, Scott arranged to have his son try out for a more competitive team. When his son made the team, Scott went to tell the coach of the boy’s original team. The coach, Pete, was furious. “I’ve coached this team for seven years, and this is what I get?” Pete railed. “You can’t abandon me like this.” Pete would not release Scott’s son from his team, so the boy had

Hold keepers to the clock

Remember the rule that keepers have to play the ball within six seconds of possessing it? Apparently, some referees don't either. During the World Cup, time and again keepers laid on balls, like a bird hatching an egg, or slow-stepped to the top of the box, draining well more than six seconds. On goal kicks, keepers have elevated time-wasting to an art form. No one is better than Denmark's Kasper Schmeichel, who moves with just enough pace to give the faint impression he is trying to get on with it. It is maddening to see a keeper cheat off 30-45

Stick a card on that mouth

It happens all too often in soccer. From the opening whistle, the ref puts up with smack talk. He fails to push back, and with each disputed call the rant grows. Before you know it, three or four players are ganging up and screaming in the ref's face. Exhibit A unfolded at the 2018 World Cup match between Colombia and England, when ref Mark Geiger, who, after calling a penalty kick, let Colombian players berate him for five minutes. By then, fans were screaming even louder at their TVs. That kind of gap snaps the pulse of a good match.