Monthly Archives: June 2011

American Soccer Fantasy: An Exhilarating, Bizarro Football World

America hates soccer.

America hates soccer so badly, we refuse to refer to it as football, and instead refer to our own abomination of a sport as football. We call our own rugby adaptation football, even though out of a roster of 53 players, NFL teams only have two players per team that are permitted to kick the football. It’s a game played in which players line up, one touches the ball with his hand, tosses it from the ground to another man’s hands, who in turn either hands it to another man or throws it forward, hoping that it is caught by another player…with his hands.

It’s astounding that the kicker, the one scoring player who is allowed to touch the ball with his foot, is actually relegated to a lesser role, even though the name of the sport seemingly identifies his speciality as a vital aspect of the game. People who throw or run in the game of football? SIX POINTS! People who kick it? “Eh…one sometimes…other times, give him three points. Maybe that will shut him up. Just kick the ball, sissy (yes, kickers and punters are routinely pointed out to be the weaklings/goofballs of a team…in the game of football).”

But back to the main point: America hates football. Our best athletes play basketball, football, baseball, and even hockey (regionally), among other sports. But what if that wasn’t the case?

What if our best athletes were as in love with soccer as Brazilians, Spaniards, the Dutch, and the British? What if we actually cared, instead of sending out our C-level athletes to represent our country in the World Cup? That might be insulting to American soccer fans like myself to think about, but let’s face it: Landon Donovan is debatably the greatest American soccer player ever, but there’s no way he’s in the top 10% of our nation’s athletes from the last 10 years.

So let’s imagine that soccer wasn’t just embraced by the middle/upper class  in America. Let’s imagine for a moment that kids played soccer all across the country, whether they were from the suburbs, inner cities, rural farmlands, or metropolitan areas. Let’s imagine the modern crop of athletes that excel in the NBA, NFL, and MLB grew up idolizing Maradona, Pele, and George Best instead of Walter Payton, Joe Montana and Michael Jordan.

What positions would they excel in? Why? What particular gifts do they possess that would set them apart on a world stage? Admittedly, the inspiration for this idea comes from my favorite sports columnist, BIll Simmons, but it’s one I’d like to carry further. So let’s begin.

1. Allen Iverson (FW)

Iverson played the wrong sport. The best forwards in the world have a slightly selfish quality about them — Iverson made a career out of taking the ball from teammates, holding on to it too long, dribbling, shifting, dribbling, shaking, dribbling…and then jacking up a terrible shot. His 42% career field goal percentage gives you an idea of just how inefficient he was. But when his shots were falling, he was unequivocally brilliant.

Ball-hogging is a terrible quality in basketball, in which all five players surround the goal in a relatively small area. But in soccer, the entire point of the forward position is to  wait around, contest for the ball a bit at midfield, then wait for your teammates to pass you the ball so you can work your magic.

Maradona’s “greatest goal of all-time” would have paled in comparison to what Iverson could have done with a soccer ball with his unparalleled quickness, agility, coordination, vision, and sheer determination.

(note: this pick is a total rip-off of previous Simmons opinions/articles)

2. Steve Nash (CMF)

The two-time NBA Most Valuable Player might actually be Canadian, but I don’t care. I still have to point out that he could have been an incredible central midfielder, which is the closest equivalent to a point guard that I can find in the game of soccer.

Did you know: Nash almost followed his athletically inferior brother, Martin, in the pursuit of the beautiful game.

Nash wasn’t the quickest or tallest on the basketball court (and certainly wasn’t the handsomest), but he has an uncanny knack for delivering the perfect pass, knocking down shots when the opportunity presents itself, and making his team better by the sheer force of his personality coupled with a staggering basketball IQ.

In short, this guy understands his sport. He knows where his teammates are going before they even begin to make their moves. He gets it. Just imagine how well Steve could manage a game from the midfield as their field general! Ugh, what could have been…

3. Derrick Rose (RW/RMF)

6’3″, 195 lbs, lightning quick, unbelievably coordinated/athletic, and completely willing to hustle 100% of the time? Rose could cover a ton of ground, and there’s no one that could keep up with him. Space would open up across the pitch because of the number of defenders that it would require just to keep up with him.

We haven’t seen many athletes like Derrick Rose, and the guy is still only 22-years-old. We have yet to see what he is capable of doing, and I’m 100% convinced that if he’d dedicated his life to soccer instead of basketball, Rose could be a top-5, world class soccer player. No doubt about it.

4. Larry Fitzgerald (GK)

I could agree with Bill Simmons and crown 6’8″ LeBron James as the best prospective American GK in our fantasy soccer world, but LeBron hasn’t shown at this point that he wants any part of the biggest moments, and Fitzgerald has. Add his incredible hands, jumping ability, quickness, and passable 6’3″ stature, and you’ve got a goalkeeper extraordinaire on your hands. LeBron would just charge headfirst into oncoming strikers and look confused as the ref presented a red card.

Wide Receivers have some of the quickest reaction times, fastest feet, and surest hands of any athlete in any American sport. They’d make absolutely perfect goalkeepers. Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Chad Ochocinco, all of them.

5. Hines Ward (CB)

A great center back has to be a team leader, willing to place his very life on the line for the team. He has to be doggedly determined that no one is getting past him, and will be willing to direct traffic as a show-you-how-it’s-done commander in arms. These qualities are what make English CB John Terry great, and they are why Hines Ward is not only his team’s best wide receiver, but also their most-feared blocker.

Ward is oft-criticized for hits like this, but his teammates are willing to go into battle for him, and it’s because they know he’ll lay it on the line. Period.

Sounds like a team anchor to me.

6. Kobe Bryant (CMF/AMF/FW)

If Iverson is Maradona, then Kobe Bryant is a cross between Pelé and Wayne Rooney. The basketball world has been asking, “Who is the next Michael Jordan?” even before he retired (the second time), and no one has come closer to that standard than Kobe Bryant.

What sets the greatest players apart is their incalculable competitiveness. Bill Russell had it. Bird had it. Magic had it. Jordan bled it. Kobe, love him or hate him, has it too.

That’s why he’d excel on the field, but I can’t quite decide where. He’d be terrifying on the attack, able to push through for goals either gracefully (Pelé) or with sheer determination (Rooney), so you’d think he’s a natural lock for the forward position. However, Kobe is also an undervalued defender, and there’s no one you could keep him from getting into scraps for the ball in midfield. Kobe would need to be an attacking midfielder, or possible even a central midfielder.

7. Phil Mickelson (LB)

Just kidding.

8. Rajon Rondo (RB)

Speed. Coordination. Scrappiness. Passion. Rajon Rondo is perhaps the most under-appreciated basketball player in the NBA today. He’s an outstanding physical specimen with an untiring motor that would allow him to run for days. He could deliver a cross, dive in for a tackle, and keep pressure on any player, regardless of their athleticism.

– – –

Get the idea? You could go on for days with this concept. If any of you have somehow made it this far in the blog post, why don’t you write in your own suggestions in the comments section?

MLB athletes need not apply.

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Common Sense Media

Today the Supreme Court ruled that California’s Assembly Bill 1179 was unconstitutional. You can read about the ruling here, but I’ll summarize by saying that the Supreme Court decided that the government heavily fining a store that sells “violent video games” to minors was a violation of the First Amendment rights granted to all forms of media in the United States.

How you feel about the ruling is inconsequential when you realize one fact: THE MONITORING OF YOUR CHILDREN’S ENTERTAINMENT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!

NOTE: before I go any further, I want to point out that if you get anything from this blog post, it should be this link: COMMON SENSE MEDIA, where you can find ratings, content guides, and more concerning video games, movies, television shows, and music. Just type the name of the title into the search bar, and then read all about it.

The lawmakers responsible for drafting Assembly Bill 1179 might have had honest intentions, namely that of protecting your children from exposure to overly violent video games (which may or may not have a psychological impact on their tolerance to violence, depending on which study you believe). However, it is far more likely that they are trying to buy parents’ votes by cheaply pandering to their base as moralists while they spend their free time sending naughty text messages to their mistresses. It’s not the government’s job to parent our children — it’s ours.

If your child is playing violent video games in your home, it’s your fault. If your child is watching sexually explicit films in your home, it’s your fault. If your child is learning language that they’ve never heard from the HBO comedy special on the television in their bedroom, it’s your fault. The government has nothing to do with it, nor does the video game store at the mall. Parents must monitor their children’s entertainment. Be nosey! You are not your child’s best friend — you are their moms and dads.

Almost all consoles and computers now come with parental controls. On XBox Live, you can enable parental controls which allow you to set time limits (including the ability to turn the console off automatically at a given hour) and restrict the ability to play games that are rated T or M (teenage/mature). Macs, iPhones, and iPods can have their Internet access restricted, and each offer a wide range of controls to customize your child’s experience based upon their age. Televisions have long had controls that restrict certain channels and programs which are rated for an adult audience.

The tools are there — but children are still playing, watching, and listening to things they shouldn’t, and it can be chalked up to one of three things:

1. Laziness
2. Ignorance
3. Ambivalence

If it’s laziness, then you need to research to find out what you can do. I’ve heard someone say, “Well, I don’t know kind of content is in the video games my kids want me to buy.” Okay, well then CLICK THIS LINK

If it’s ignorance, then it’s rectified by studying, asking questions, and simply reading the backs of the boxes of many games and movies. If your kid is watching a show on television, ask him/her what the title of the show is, and then Wikipedia it to find out what themes it addresses, what kind of characters are being presented, and whether or not it’s something you want them watching. When people say, “I don’t know where to start,” that usually means they didn’t even attempt to start.

If the matter is ambivalence, then I’d recommend that you pray God for a burden to protect your children. What they watch/hear/play DOES make a difference in their lives. No matter what psychological studies prove or don’t prove, there is no way to spiritually measure the affects their entertainment has upon their emotions and consciences.


Psalm 101:3a (KJV) – “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…”

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10 Lessons from My Dad

In honor of Father’s Day, I figured I’d list a few of the many things that my dad has taught me throughout the years. This is by no means a comprehensive collection of all of his nuggets of wisdom, but these are the things that came to mind as I sat down to write. It’s a bit disjointed, but you’ll get the idea.

First, some serious stuff:

1. Be the same person at home that you are from the pulpit.

My dad is a pastor. I’ve seen pastors, both personally at from afar, who were unable to live up to the lofty standards that they pushed upon others. Some of them didn’t even seem to be trying. Yet my father lives the same convictions he preaches publicly, treats everyone fairly, and shows generosity and patiences to everyone, regardless of their stature.

Being his son, I still only remotely aware of just how many people he has helped, and can honestly say that the majority of his pastoring is done far from the spotlight, with no one to admire and reward his works but God. His ministry is no facade.

2. Approach situations with patience, mercy, and empathy.

Having worked in ministry for only eight years, it still floors me to see how my father is one of the most forgiving people I have ever met. One of the oft-overlooked downsides of ministry is that we often have front row seats to people’s darker sides. People lose their tempers — ministers see it. People harbor unforgiveness — ministers feel it. People gossip about one another — ministers hear it. People are unfaithful — ministers counsel through it. People become disillusioned and resentful with God and/or  ministry — ministers absorb it.

One of the greatest enemies for every Christian is cynicism, and ministers are one of its greatest targets. My father refuses to be cynical, and through faith, pushes to find a positive outcome, then works for it. Instead of throwing in the towel on the nincompoops, he prays and fights for them to be something better, and often plays a critical hand in their renewal.

I believe they are three traits that make him an excellent pastor, and wish that all could emulate them.

3. We’re in the people business.

I may act like a banshee on meth once every few weeks, but I am, at heart, a terrible introvert. Unfortunately, I’m also a bit of an idealist, and disappointments with others and/or myself causes me to withdraw from groups even further.

But my dad taught me that when you’re in ministry, you’re in the people business. We have to listen to people, talk to people, care for people, and above all else, love people. I’m not saying that I don’t listen/talk/care/love people (quite the opposite), but my father reminds me that I have to make sure they know that I care about them. A person hurt by ministry carries a very difficult wound to heal.

Love God, love people: it’s everyone’s calling.

4. It is NEVER less than hilarious to mumble nonsense words when people least expect it.

“Hey, Ryan!”

“Hey, Fred! How are you?”

“Pretty good. How’s the family?”

“Well, pretty good, but if that calfreman doesn’t smort the flabnem, then we’re going to have a long summer…”

(awkward pause)

“Can you say that again?”

If you wonder where I get this from, now you know who to blame.

5. When you hit a putt short, it is necessary to take tiny, rapid steps backwards and say, “YA GOTTA HIT IIIIIIIT!”

Other notable golf tips I learned from Dad:

– When someone hits a bad shot and is extremely frustrated, ask them, “Well, what did you do that for?”

– When you slice the ball into the trees, ask no one in particular, “Why do I wanna come out and waste money on THIS?”

– Unless a PGA Tour professional, you should never feel guilty for adjusting the ball’s lie.

6. “To the pure, all things are pure.”

This is most often used as a defense against bemused criticism at family dinner for innocently using phrases in the pulpit that may or may not have a double-meaning in today’s culture.

7. “Never let a fight get in the way of a good night’s sleep.”

In other words, if you get in a knock-down drag-out with your spouse, don’t feel compelled to sleep anywhere other than the comfortable, familiar half of your own bed. Couches, guest rooms, and recliners just don’t get the job done.

The awkwardness and silence might make things uncomfortable for a few minutes, but once you fall asleep, you’ll stop noticing.

8. Missions, missions, missions.

My dad pastors a church in Bossier City, Louisiana, but at times you’d think that he also pastors a few other churches around the world. He gives reports about what is happening in Guatemala, Chile, China, and other countries with the same fervor and excitement that he does when we have an awesome service at POBC.

We live in the greatest country in the world, and with all the financial blessings that come with it, we have a powerful calling to aid in spreading the Gospel to the rest of the world. Missions can never be neglected.

9. A boyhood filled with bare feet, rattlesnakes, fights, and stampedes > Call of Duty.

If I listen to my dad’s endless supply of stories from De Leon, Texas, I can’t help but get the feeling that modern, urbanized youth are missing out on something truly special. I myself have become incredibly jealous hearing some of these tales, including, but not limited to:

– Uncle David convinced the four other Dean boys to spend the night in a nearby graveyard, then everyone screaming and running as a herd of horses came crashing through. This story resembles others in which he’d convince them the moon was turning to blood and the Rapture was nigh.

– Several of the boys held on to a massive rock at “the pits,” so that it would take them further underwater than they’d been before, only to stop abruptly when one of them developed an underwater nosebleed.

– The boys freaked out one day when Whiskers, the beloved family rat terrier, disappeared into an armadillo hole for what seemed like an eternity, only to pop back out of the ground 100 yards away (the exact measurement varies).

10. No matter what else happens, your family means the pacht lamen fled.

I told you.

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