Keith Strudler

Keith Strudler: A Culture Of Fear

Aug 15, 2018

To be clear, Jordan McNair is not the first nor last player to die playing football, whether from heat exhaustion or collision or some other by product of the violent pastime. Every year, a handful of young athletes – most of them in high school – perish as a result of something that happened on the field of play. And while sport administrators have tried to reduce this number through a variety of preventive measures, to be clear, there is no surefire way to eliminate death from a sport as violent and taxing as American football.

Keith Strudler: Cancelling Flights And Games

Aug 8, 2018

Even in the best of situations, air travel kind of stinks. It’s crowded, uncomfortable, and largely makes most people feel like a character in a George Orwell novel. That’s assuming things run on schedule and according to plan, which, as you know, they often don’t. Which means instead of a five-hour experience, it could mean sleeping on an airport floor after your connecting flight was cancelled. You’re not a veteran traveler until you’ve sprinted to the check-in line of another airline hoping to catch the last seat to a city in the same time zone of where you hope to eventually go.

Keith Strudler: Not Even Close

Aug 1, 2018

If you play sports long enough, you will find yourself on the back end of a lopsided defeat. 

Keith Strudler: Hockey Fights

Jul 25, 2018

There was a point in my distant past where I thought I would go to law school. This period came largely before I got to the heart of college coursework and realized that law school could be unpleasant and lead to unintended consequences- namely then having to be a lawyer. 

Keith Strudler: Judgement Call

Jul 18, 2018

Perhaps the most important moment of Sunday’s World Cup Final between France and Croatia came when the ball wasn’t in play. It didn’t involve the players – not directly at least – or the coaches or the fans. The pivotal moment of the game came 33 minutes into the contest, when referee Nestor Pitana listened intently through an earpiece to someone called the Video Assistant Referee, or VAR – basically some guy who lets the ref know if it’s worth looking in a monitor to review a decision. Like whether something was a goal, or if there was a penalty. They were talking about a play where the ball seemed to hit the hand of Croatian player Ivan Perisic inside their penalty box off a corner kick. The ball flew out of bounds outside of the goal and initially was given to Croatia for a goal kick, ending the imminent scoring threat and continuing what was then a dramatic 1-1 tie game.

Keith Strudler: The Ronaldo Metaphor

Jul 11, 2018

Ronaldo just cost me $50. I’m speaking of Cristiano Ronaldo, the global mega soccer star who’s amongst a handful of soccer idols here in the US. I know this because he’s my 10-year-old Sloan’s favorite player. In soccer camp — and it feels like every day is soccer camp in my house – Sloan dressed up like Ronaldo on dress as your favorite player day. That meant everything from socks to hair style like Ronaldo — which apparently is now a popular men’s do across the globe, kind of like Jennifer Aniston in the 90’s. Of course, it also included a Ronaldo Jersey, the cornerstone of any soccer costume. His jersey was, like all except Ronaldo’s National team jersey from Portugal, a Real Madrid Jersey, where Ronaldo has played for the last nine years as part of La Liga, the premier Spanish Soccer League. This is where we get to the $50. Despite efforts keep him, Real Madrid has released Ronaldo to the Italian club Juventus, which obviously plays in the top Italian League, perhaps a step below their other European counterparts. And when I say released, that was after Juventus agreed to pay around $100 million to Real Madrid, which is still only around 10% of the actual buy-out clause. Which means that now I have to spend another $50 to buy Sloan a Juventus jersey with Ronaldo’s name and number on it, which I’m sure will be available on Amazon before the ink dries on the contract.

Keith Strudler: On Again, Off Again

Jul 4, 2018

So a lot of us have had on again, off again romances. It’s highly imperfect and both temporary and strangely permanent at the same time. It’s comfortable but confusing and, more often than not, leaves one party with hurt feelings.

Keith Strudler: Serena's Rankings

Jun 27, 2018

There are countless differences between men’s and women’s athletics, many of them rooted in historical stereotypes of sport, power, and masculinity, among other things. But there are physiological distinctions as well, some relevant the nature of certain games and other used as a red herring. But one important distinction between men and women, at least when it comes to the extended duration of a sporting career, is the ability to bear children. Now, before I continue, I realize that talking about sport and childbirth is amount to lighting a firecracker in Times Square at rush hour. It’s a tinder box most would rather ignore, if only to avoid the possibility of inadvertently saying something that might offend.

Keith Strudler: Kids And The Cup

Jun 20, 2018

We had the odd occasion last Friday afternoon that everyone in my family was home at once. That was a confluence of summer Fridays, end of sports seasons, and all the other things that tend to happen when the days get longer and hotter. So I was home when my 10-year-old son Sloan returned from school and literally ran through the door as if chased by a lion and started yelling, “Spain vs Portugal is on! Spain vs. Portugal is on!” Then without so much as a simple pleasantry, he turned on the TV and stared at it like it was an apostle. Nice to see you too.

Keith Strudler: The Same Page

Jun 13, 2018

In a marriage, or really any relationship, it’s important to be on the same page. To know what the other person thinks, or what they want to do. For example, when you’re looking to buy a new house, it’s important to know how you define “move in ready,” and to have that definition negotiated before you’re touring homes with a realtor. I may know this from experience.

Keith Strudler: Disinvited

Jun 6, 2018

There is absolutely nothing worse than throwing a party and no one shows up. There's the expense, and all the time wasted. And what are you going to do with all that queso? When you plan a party, you want people to come -- well, like 75% of people to come so you can keep your costs down. That's how people think, at least anyone who's planned a wedding or bar mitzvah or even a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese.

Keith Strudler: Winning In Vegas

May 30, 2018

I spent my early years in the 1970’s in Clearwater, Florida, a suburb or Tampa. At that point, the Bay Area was emerging as major metropolitan, going beyond its reputation as a nice place for mid-westerners to avoid the extravagance of the Florida Gold Coast. Which is how in 1976, Tampa was awarded its first major professional sports franchise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an NFL expansion team that came to the League the same year as the Seattle Seahawks. As an emerging sports fanatic, I fell hard for the Bucs. Which was a shame because, to be clear, they were awful. As in 0-14 the first season and perhaps the worst professional sports franchise of all time awful. They went 0-12 their second season before winning the final two games of the year, including a season ending first ever home win against the then St. Louis Cardinals. I know because I was actually at that game as a seven-year-old, and I still consider it one of the most exciting moments of my life.

Keith Strudler: Houston's Big Comeback

May 23, 2018

The Houston Rockets did something completely unexpected last night against the Golden State Warriors. Down two games to one in a best-of-seven Western Conference Finals series, and trailing by 10 going into the fourth quarter, the Rockets managed an improbable comeback win to tie the series as they head back to Houston for Game Five. Not to get into the weeds, but this changes the entire complexion of the series, which, before 9 p.m. last night most people assumed would end soon and with certainty. That’s because the Warriors beat Houston by 41 in Game Three and made the Rockets look like a high school JV. So, now Golden State has gone from presumptive NBA Champions to a team that has to steal a game on the road to get to the Finals. Such is the nature of the NBA Playoffs, where momentum shifts as often as our White House staff.

Keith Strudler: Gambling On Sports

May 16, 2018

Just to be clear, I do not particularly enjoy betting on sports. There’s a lot of reasons for that, including the fact that once you have money on a game, you tend to worry more about finance than athleticism. Also, I tend to be really risk averse when it comes to money. For me, the anguish of losing $50 is way more pronounced than the joy of winning $100.

Keith Strudler: Kona’s Final Journey

May 9, 2018

I was going to write a commentary about minor league baseball players and a legal dispute over salary structure, which may or may not end up in the Supreme Court. But I didn’t. And then I almost started to write about LeBron James and the Cavs’ sweep of Toronto, and how a title this year would be perhaps the greatest accomplishment of his professional life. But again, I stopped. And that’s because, and apologies for bringing everyone down with me, but my nearly 13-year-old dog Kona is in the final throws of a terminal illness, and as I write, my wife and I are getting ready for Kona’s journey to his final resting place, likely later today. If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know what I mean, and you know it sucks about as bad as anything can. So with all due respect to baseball and LeBron James, I decided that I’d rather give these few minutes to my loyal companion that some athletes I’ve never met. And I decided that instead of taking the week off, I’d let you all know just how amazing a dog Kona was.

Keith Strudler: FIFA Vs. Trump

May 2, 2018

There is perhaps no greater insult and hypocrisy than when FIFA, the institutionally corrupt federation that oversees global soccer, when they insinuate you might lack integrity. But they did just that, and remarkably in this case, they may be right.

Keith Strudler: Trust The Process

Apr 25, 2018

The sexiest construct in NBA basketball right now isn’t what you’d think. It’s not a dunk, or a fast break, even something as essential as offense or defense. It’s not even a star player, like LeBron James or James Harden. The basketball buzz word of the moment is process. As in trust The Process.

Keith Strudler: Less Is More

Apr 18, 2018

Here’s something said by pretty much every employee ever. “I work too much.” Now here’s the follow-up you don’t get. “I’d take less money.”

Keith Strudler: Nothing To Cheer About

Apr 11, 2018

So a few years ago, I was at a wedding in Dallas at one of those mega hotels. The kind of place where if you get on the wrong elevator, you might end up in Fort Worth. And besides the people there for the wedding, the entire rest of the hotel was booked for people competing in a high school cheerleading competition. At one point in an elevator, I was having some small talk with one of the parents, and she looked at me and said, “you’re not here for the cheerleading competition, are you?” There were about 200 ways she’d know that, starting with my somewhat unkempt appearance, which stood in stark contrast to the finely tuned and dressed competitors – and their families. Throughout the course of the weekend, I don’t think I saw a single hair out of place or one mismatched outfit.  As that parent reminded me, cheerleading has a distinct culture.

Keith Strudler: Going Pro

Apr 4, 2018

Now that we’ve crowned a national champion in men’s college basketball, the sport enters its version of what Major League Baseball calls Hot Stove. It’s when a handful of elite college basketball players, a lot of them still in their first year of school, decide whether they are going to enter the NBA draft. For some, it’s a fairly foregone conclusion – like Michael Porter of Missouri or Marvin Bagley of Duke, both fab freshmen who should be drafted in the top five this summer. In fact, the majority of most mock draft boards are made up of what we call one-and-dones, with a few sophomores and upperclassmen thrown in. Honestly, it looks like the roster for an intro college psych class.

Keith Strudler: Sister Jean Heads To San Antonio

Mar 28, 2018

The most recognizable figure in this weekend’s NCAA men’s Final Four may not be a player, especially since star laden Duke lost last week, or a coach, since all but Villanova’s Jay Wright are fairly anonymous. The most famous personality left in the field may be a nun. I’m speaking, of course, of Sister Jean, the 98-year-old team chaplain for Loyola University. 

Keith Strudler: March Sadness

Mar 21, 2018

It goes without saying that this NCAA basketball tournament has been, shall we say, complicated. I’ll refrain from using works like historic or unprecedented, because in sports analysis, we often suffer from recency effect. But if your brackets still look good, you’re either extremely lucky or living in denial.

Keith Strudler: College Basketball On The Brink

Mar 14, 2018

Without belaboring the point, this Thursday and Friday are, technically speaking, the two greatest days of the calendar year. That’s because they are the first two days of the men’s NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament. Which means that over the course of two days, 64 teams will be cut in half through 32 single elimination games. That’s approximately 64 hours of high intensity basketball played between the hours of noon and midnight Thursday and Friday. I’ll spare you any additional math, but needless to say, if you are a college basketball junkie, and I am, this is what heaven looks like. Only in heaven, I pick all 32 games correctly and win my office pool.

Keith Strudler: The Four Minute Mile

Mar 7, 2018

Virtually every college distance runner wishes two things. One, that coach doesn’t call an early morning Sunday practice. And two, that you had just a little more leg speed so you could run the mile. See, if you’re a 5000 or 10,000 meter runner, down deep you knew that meant you couldn’t turn it over quick enough to do something shorter. So you just kept going longer and longer until you kind of outlasted people. That’s my story at least, a former mediocre college 10K guy. The same goes for a friend who’s now an ultra-marathoner, who saw the marathon as just a bit too speedy.

Keith Strudler: Shopping For Sporting Goods

Feb 28, 2018

If you have two kids of a certain age like I do, you spend a whole lot of time in sporting good stores. We tend to do a weekly pilgrimage to buy anything from soccer cleats to compression shirts to running shoes that aren’t even necessarily used for running. It’s an expensive hobby, having kids. And of course, that means we spend a whole lot of time in Dick’s Sporting Goods, the largest retail sporting goods chain in the US. And every time I go to Dick’s, I have an uncomfortable moment when I have to walk my kids by the hunting section of the store. Because there, among other things, is a wall full of guns. There’s also bullets, and scopes and all the other things that make guns work – most of which I’m largely unfamiliar with, despite my three summers of Boy Scout camp in Texas. I tend not to spend much time staring, and I certainly don’t encourage my kids to peruse – which isn’t usually that hard, since they’re busy trying to convince me to buy them $100 basketball shoes they don’t need. It hasn’t stopped me from shopping there, obviously. But the feeling is there, and perhaps one reason I wish I was at Nike Store or a Foot Locker – something I never thought I’d say.

Keith Strudler: The Best Or Worst Of Olympic Times

Feb 21, 2018

No one is going to confuse Liz Swaney with Lindsey Vonn. They do both compete in winter downhill Olympic sports. But the comparisons stop there. This is Swaney’s first Olympic Games, compared to Vonn’s fourth. And Swaney does the snowboard half pipe, while Lindsey Vonn is a downhill skier. So those are some differences. But that kind of buries the lead. It's like saying the difference between Brad Pitt and John Candy is that Pitt prefers to wear brown shoes.

Keith Strudler: Olympic Hockey And The NHL

Feb 14, 2018

Alex Ovechkin would rather be at the Olympics right now. Specifically, the NHL hockey veteran would rather be playing for his home nation of Russia in the Games – something he did in 2006, 2010, and 2014. Of course, he can’t do that for two reasons. One is somewhat technical. Namely, there is no Russian Olympic team in the Korean Games because of the IOC’s ruling on Russia’s longstanding drug program. So Ovechkin would actually be competing for the Olympic men’s hockey team from Russia. Which I suppose would probably suffice.

Keith Strudler: The Biggest Play In The Big Game

Feb 7, 2018

Perhaps the most important play of Sunday’s Super Bowl came in the second quarter, when Patriots wide receiver Brendan Cooks was knocked to the ground by Philly defensive back Malcolm Jenkins after 23-yard completion. The hit looked brutal from the comfort of my living room, if for no other reason than Cooks didn’t see it coming. He laid on the field for several moments, and, after being attended to, did leave on his own two feet. Slowly. And he never returned.

Keith Strudler: Time For A New Hat

Jan 31, 2018

Sports fans are a lot like fashonistas. They’re always looking for an excuse to buy new clothing. Fans of the Cleveland Indians now have one. Or at least they will, in 2019, when the franchise changes its uniforms and removes its controversial logo, the cartoonish Native American caricature Chief Wahoo. For decades, critics have asked – no, demanded the mascot be removed. And now it will be, with a few caveats.  First, it won’t make the change until a season from now, allowing Chief Wahoo fans another year to enjoy what many consider a racist symbol. There’s probably some logical reasons for the delayed alteration, namely they need to come up with an alternative. And they probably want fan feedback, or at least the perception thereof. So there are business explanations for slowly removing the Band-Aid instead of ripping it off.

Keith Strudler: No Silver Lining

Jan 24, 2018

If there’s a silver lining to this story, and really there isn’t, it’s that Dr. Larry Nassar will die in prison. Which means he won’t victimize any more of the young female athletes that came to him for medical counsel. It also means that the dozens of victims that have spoken out – and others that haven’t – can hopefully feel some modicum of justice and perhaps relief that Nassar got what he deserved, if you’re so inclined to view the American penal system that way. But outside of those victories, this story is a true tragedy.