You might think winning the Super Bowl is based in Xs and Os, giving your all, and all those other platitudes you hear every week at your cousin’s pee-wee football game. But that’s all crap. Winning a championship in the NFL all comes down to minimizing distractions. Just ask Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy.
The thing is, no one can decide what actually constitutes a distraction. Luckily, I’m here to break it down, so you know exactly where your team stands the next time a potential distractions arises. Let’s begin with things that could potentially distract your favorite team from focusing on its goal of winning a Super Bowl.
Think, if you will for a moment, of your country’s wildest sporting dream. For Canadians, a gold medal in hockey might be just the accessory to go with all that maple syrup. In Australia, winning the Rugby World Cup over rivals New Zealand and South Africa is a source of pride for locals. The people of the United States find it best to rest laurels on domestic competitions, only really getting involved externally if their nation happens to be exerting dominance as a sort of athletic manifest destiny. Regardless of the means, people love putting stock in competition because they believe the payoff far outweighs potential letdowns. It is fun to concoct scenarios, however unlikely, in which your team defies all the odds to win. Be careful what you wish for, however. Living vicariously means dying vicariously, and the only resting place for most is a grave on the world’s most visible stage – the FIFA World Cup.
Over two years ago, my girlfriend came to me with a crazy dream she had. In it, I was Jay Z. I was still “me,” but I looked like Jay Z and had the platinum-selling rap mogul status of Jay Z. Meanwhile, my girlfriend had assumed the role of Beyoncé. She was still “herself,” but looked like Queen B and carried the empowering feminist aura that comes with being the most influential female artist alive. In her dream, we performed a concert in tandem and then rode off into the sunset on a motorcycle. That’s one hell of a dream.
Tyler Lauletta and Brian Kraker are two dudes who love NBA free agency and Harry Potter. When J.K. Rowling released a new short story about “The Boy Who Lived” at the Quidditch World Cup, these two started emailing back and forth. The following are actual emails exchanged between two supposed adults.
Brian Kraker: Harry Potter is officially on the comeback trail! J.K. Rowling has gone full Michael Jordan and is coming out of retirement (because posting short stories online is the literary equivalent of playing for the Washington Wizards). The story is written from the perspective of notorious gossip columnist Rita Skeeter, who is reporting from the Quidditch World Cup. While the short story focuses more on the personal lives of Rowling’s heroes, I’m way more interested in the competition. Maybe I’m still just caught up in actual World Cup fervor or I’ve spent too much time traversing the wormhole of NBA rumors that are floating around the Twitterverse, but I’m more interested in the fictional competition than Harry Potter’s graying mane.
The setting for the World Cup’s final scene
Thread count – high
Commission – high
Hourly rates – high
a minute of your time? forget about it
The line above is from Parquet Courts’ “Master of My Craft,” the first song from their “formal” 2012 debut, Light Up Gold. The song is a smart ass take on why anyone in their position cannot be bothered by street teams trying to peddle political ideology or social change via flyers and “quick surveys.” I know what it’s like to be in their position. Four years ago, I was also stoned, starving and making my way down M Street in Georgetown as the know-it-all with a grand, post-grad scheme. On our way back to the student apartments, we were approached by a young woman who, like one of the antagonists from Parquet Courts’ ode to slackerism, was carrying a clipboard and a pile of paper. “Wanna know what’s sexy?” she asked, her question simultaneously rhetorical and seductive. “Politics,” she said, as she handed me an informational slip from a non-profit I didn’t care to remember. A trash can was nearby. “No,” I chuckled with my friends as I balled the piece of paper up and crammed it into the trash can sitting within earshot of the young woman and her fellow street teamers. This was the same summer that I also shrugged my shoulders with the same passive indifference at the USMNT’s loss to Ghana. “Well, at least we have more money than their country,” I said reductively and offensively as I walked away from the Black Stars’ celebration. I gave soccer all the thought and consideration that I gave the woman’s curbside elevator pitch about her organization’s efforts.
Do me a favor and not make a team decision before I post this, okay?
I guess The Decision wasn’t fun enough, because LeBron James has the NBA (and pretty much the overall) sports pulse by the throat as he “decides” which team he will sign with. Now, since he is, in fact, a free agent, all of the things that have happened thus far (the alleged agent meetings, the face to face with Pat Riley) are definitely things that he can do.
But who cares about that? He has to go back to Cleveland! He can’t bolt from Miami after being challenged by Riles, can he? I’ve seen a LOT of opinions on what/how/why/when/if this or that will happen. I think I’ve nailed down eight different thoughts on LeBron, and this NBA offseason as a whole.
And just like that, another American dream ends painfully at the feet of Belgium. Years of preparation and tough decisions, not without controversy, went into the U.S. Men’s National Team’s run into the knockout stages, an arduous and heart-pounding journey from the depths of the Group of Death and through the Amazonian rain forest. Landon Donovan was nowhere to be found. Jozy Altidore became an ineffectual cheerleader, for all intents and purposes. Michael Bradley commanded the midfield with the force of a dead battery and held possession in a way which undoubtedly made several Spaniards blush, but who were they to judge?
Tim Howard was brilliant. Clint Dempsey embodied the American ethos, playing through a broken nose and exhaustion. Jermaine Jones struck every ball with passion and unparalleled intensity. Matt Besler fearlessly stood tall against some of the world’s best strikers. This team, for all its follies and missed opportunities, represented its country perhaps more closely than any other at this World Cup. This was truly an American team, despite (or because of, depending on your disposition) all the talk of German-Americans and under-the-table deals preceding Jurgen Klinsmann’s first major tournament on a world stage. Victory again eluded the U.S., but that wasn’t really the goal anyway.
What now? Read More
Tim Howard, a portrait
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is here, and I have a novice’s degree of knowledge as to what’s happening, as well as a small amount of sentimentality for the event. This is me traversing through work, drunken weekends, and Spotify with the World Cup either in the fore or background
Monday, June 30th
I wasn’t really interested in how France – Nigeria, or Algeria versus Germany for that matter, was going to play out. It seemed inconceivable to think that the two African teams would be able to put up a fight against two European powers that were at the top of their rank. So I ignored the matches, which were mostly scoreless affairs until the final minutes. There were plenty of moments when Karim Benzema and Thomas Müller could have knocked in shots to put their opponents in utter despair but some cosmic force was unwilling to give these two teams an easy victory. France would ultimately run away with the game in the final minutes while Germany required extra time in order to advance. Based on both performances, I would say that both teams acted a little entitled throughout the entirety. It would have been interesting if Nigeria and Algeria would have scored, and I wasn’t in the middle of closing financial reports, but, alas, such is life.