Posts from ‘July, 2010’

Exit Maradona

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And so he exits as he arrived: Defiant, cocksure, more than a little mad, and worshipped.

Calling Diego Armando Maradona a soccer god is not idle exaggeration. There is after all a Church of Maradona with a reported membership of 100,000 people. Now, however, Maradona is no longer the manager of Argentina’s national soccer team. Last Tuesday, in Buenos Aires, the Argentine Football Association voted unanimously not to renew his contract. Continue reading

Maradona out

Adios, Diego. Maradona out as Argentina coach. A murky business. Continue reading

Sporting Madness chimes in

The Sporting Madness blog takes a long look at The World Is A Ball and has a few things to say about it. Continue reading

Is Brazil ready?

Less than 4 years to the next Word Cup. In Brazil. Is Brazil ready? The BBC kickstarts the finger-wagging Anglo skepticism right here. Moving right along from skepticism about South Africa. Continue reading

Menezes coaches Brazil

Hard man Mano Menezes accepts job as new coach of Brazil. Good luck with that. Continue reading

France is cursed

The Irish curse on the France team continues to bedevil them. This could last for a thousand years. Continue reading

Robbie Keane at Fulham

Robbie Keane and Damien Duff at Fulham. Anyone? Anyone….? Continue reading

Tops again

Eight, count ’em, eight weeks on the Bestseller lists.

J.P. Donleavy, not Wallace

According to I Write Like The World Is A Ball was written by somebody who writes like David Foster Wallace. The author was hoping for J.P. Donleavy or Eduardo Galeano. Continue reading

Paperback writer

The author prepares the revised & updated paperback edition, coming this Fall. The author also prepares the U.S. edition, coming in October, published by Rodale. Which already has one supporter – John Doyle. That’s John Doyle, Staff sports writer and Sunday editor at Foster’s Daily Democrat in Dover, New Hampshire. Mr. Doyle described the Sorry If You Think Soccer Sucks rant as “Awesome, awesome, awesome column” on Twitter. Continue reading

A summer of TV changes. What’s it all mean?

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Thursday July 15, 2010

Who coined the line “Summertime and the livin’ is easy”? Get outta town, whoever you are.

This is no easy summer in the TV racket and on this beat. Day and night, I’m inundated with news, asked to write about this or that, get up at an unholy hour of the morning and pontificate about events on some early-morning TV or radio show.

It’s all about change, isn’t it? Meanwhile, everybody is moseying along thinking that some things never change. You go home, turn on the TV and, failing to find anything new, you turn to CNN. Might be some news story you need to know about. And there is Larry King, having dragged his bag of bones into the studio again and been propped up to interview someone he has interviewed about 24 times over the years. If it’s a woman, he might even have been married to her at one point. Things change – soon enough, you will be denied this experience.

What does it all mean? Maybe it doesn’t mean anything. Let’s trawl through the changes looking for clues. Continue reading

Your average TV-actor scandal is a bit lame

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Wednesday, July 14, 2010

During the World Cup (I’ll stop mentioning it soon), the English team caused much mirth when some players complained about their daily routine. Isolated at a luxury hotel/resort, like most teams, some guys whined that after breakfast and training and lunch, they were obliged to rest for the remainder of the day. Watch television, play video games, watch World Cup games on TV. “Very boring,” one fella said.

As one pundit in the English press acidly remarked, the chaps were finding their days rather tedious because they weren’t able to engage in their usual, daily post-training routine of “drinking, gambling and whoring.”

We expect male pro athletes to be boorish and a bit thick, easily distracted, with the attention span of a three-year-old and the adolescent appetites of a 15-year-old. They’re not paid to be models of propriety.

In the big-shot acting racket, we expect a goodly number of movie stars to be impossible jerks, attention-seeking weirdos and egomaniac cranks who believe that their opinions about various things matter greatly. Mel Gibson is only the most high-profile serial offender in this category. Continue reading

TV is not dead, just on a summer pause

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In the past few days, as people prattled on about the retirement of Lloyd Robertson, the arrival of Lisa LaFlamme as CTV’s news anchor and a looming news-anchor announcement by Global, I was often told that nobody is watching TV these days. This opinion was usually delivered with some delight.

The main reason for certain parties to assert that TV is dead is pretty clear. During the first week of July, the U.S. networks had the fewest prime-time viewers in two decades. According to Nielsen data, CBS averaged 5.6 million viewers, NBC, 4.7 million, ABC, 4.5 million and Fox, 4.1 million.

About the same time, The New York Times reported that ratings for the U.S. network news shows were down for the second quarter of this year. Both ABC and CBS had record low numbers for their evening news programs. Even NBC, which has led in the supper-time news race for several years, had historic low numbers.

These two news items were widely and gleefully reported online. Well, of course. Any time old media are shown to suffer, online news sources high-five each other and predict the imminent death of newspapers, TV, magazines and, for all I know, the use of pens and pencils worldwide. Continue reading

Sorry if you think soccer sucks. But nobody cares what you think

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Monday, July 12, 2010

That’s it then. Spain beat The Netherlands in a game that was persistently scrappy until extra-time. There were countess fouls. The main Dutch plan, facing Spanish artistry, was to kick at ankles, tug shirts, and manhandle opposing players. But Spain won – a victory of grace and technique over muscle and force. All good, really.

But that’s not the dominant story, is it? Certainly not in Canada and the United States. Soccer might have a new Word Cup champion, but some things never change. Continue reading

Stand by, folks, for the greatest show on earth

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Friday, July 9, 2010

A month of madness ends this weekend with the biggest television event on the planet. Yep, that World Cup thing will end, with hundreds of millions of people watching the final. Life becomes tedious for a while, until the European soccer season starts. No, wait. That’s just me. There are a few non-sports shows this weekend, but not many. CBC ends its World Cup coverage with Popsicle Soccer Day in Canada on CBC (noon). A Toronto FC game is followed by the third-place game from South Africa (Uruguay against Germany, 2:30 p.m.) and then, women’s soccer from Nova Scotia, Quebec and Alberta, including the famous Giddy Up Cup, part of the Calgary Stampede. The menu is this – the greatest show on Earth and two good things for non-sports fans. Continue reading

Three questions for David Gutnick

Very nice remarks about The World Is A Ball from a very, very nice CBC man in South Africa for The World Cup. Continue reading

A sad summer of ‘fame whores’ and footballers

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Thursday, July 8

I love this summer. Mind you, it makes me sad. But in a good way.

One day last month, at an ungodly hour of the morning, I was sitting in the green room of a TV station in Vancouver. Across from me sat a handsome, well-dressed young man. I asked him why he was appearing on breakfast TV that morning. Turned out he had been on The Bachelorette and had a story to tell.

“Is it juicy stuff?” I asked. “Totally, man,” he replied. “But I can’t really spill the beans right now. Confidentiality things were signed.” He did his bit on the show and then I did my bit talking about my book on soccer and the World Cup.

That situation telegraphed the entire summer, really. There are only two things worth talking about right now – the whole Bachelor/Bachelorette thing, and the World Cup. Continue reading

Why it’s a Spain against Holland final

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Last week, this was South America’s World Cup. There was rabid speculation about a final featuring Brazil and Argentina. That hope evaporated in the quarter-finals. Now we know it’s Spain playing the Netherlands. What the two much-heralded teams South American lacked is what the finalists have – a tactical master plan anchored by specific use of midfield players.

Here’s why the South Americans crashed out – it’s a tale of tactical innocence and tactical cynicism.

Argentina. While Diego Maradona became a lovable figure at the tournament, thanks to his unbridled passion and visceral support of his players, as a manager he was revealed to be tactically naïve. Continue reading

On the bus with Spain

Arriba España! Great footage here of the boys on the bus on their way to beat Germany in the Euro 2008 Final. They sing, they kinda dance. That’s Spain.

Reasons to root for Uruguay

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Monday, July 5

A lot of people, not just the Dutch, are hoping for a Netherlands-against-Germany World Cup Final. The Dutch want revenge for the disaster of the World Cup Final in 1974, not to mention the Second World War. In 1974 the Dutch team, widely considered the best in the world for flair and daring tactics, lost 1-2 to West Germany. In the world’s memory (it helped that it was the first TV World Cup shown in colour for many people), the Dutch were sublime, robbed of a glorious victory for entertaining soccer, and the Germans were hatefully dreary. Continue reading