Women are Athletes

The 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown vs The Board of Education determined separate but equal was a myth. In 2021, Sedona Prince Tweeted a video of the women’s weight room at the NCAA Basketball Tournament. It showed a rack of dumbbells in the corner of a room. In contrast, Prince’s video also showed the expansive weight room for the men’s participants in the NCAA tournament. The stark contrast leads one to believe NCAA officials didn’t pay much attention in high school civics class. 

Sedona Prince

Prince’s Tweet exposed a Pandora’s Box of inequity that not only runs through women’s college basketball but all of women’s sports. Officials can correct the optics . Congress can convene to enforce Title IX. I propose NCAA officials take a walk in the trenches where women athletes practice and perform. This will show them women are equal to men.

The Playground

Basketball was my second love. I played for my high school team which was highly ranked in the hotbed Washington, D.C. area. My game was respectable. I know the game and I know these college girls can ball

When I lived in Boulder, Colorado, I played a lot of pick-up at the University of Colorado rec center. One day, a young woman looked to join the guys in a game. No one was openly a neanderthal so she was readily welcomed. I chose her to play on my team. Her name was Rachel.

The games were always competitive. Winners stayed on. This made losing not an option. On our first possession, Rachel was wide-open in the right corner. A pass was whipped to her. She planted her feet and released a 20 footer. Swish! A smile crossed her face, a few high-fives were exchanged.

On our next possession, Rachel was again open in the right corner. It was now clear her defender decided it wasn’t worth the bother to check her. Instead, he played a one man zone. Woosh. A pass was rifled to Rachel. She planted her feet and released another 20 footer. Swish! 

As we retreated to defense, I mockingly yelled at Rachel’s defender, “You got to check the girl. You got to check the girl.” The game ended quickly. We won, Rachel was checked in our next game. She still continued to score.


Sadie T.M Alexander

My initial respect and appreciation of women was derived from my family. My grandmother, Sadie T.M. Alexander, was the first black woman in the country to earn a PhD. My aunt and sister are PhDs. I have been engulfed by strong women my entire life.

In spite of this impressive lineage, my background in sports has been even more influential in my belief in the capabilities of women. I tell people, “I’m not from the streets. I’m from the playground.”

I’ve spent countless hours training with women throughout my track career. This experience has unequivocally showed me women are as respectful, hard working and dedicated to their sports as men. 

First Impressions

I first learned woman can compete with men in Junior High School. This was in the dark ages of women’s sports when Junior High Schools did not have sports for girls. There was, however, one industrious and talented young woman who had the “nerve” to join the boy’s track team at a rival school in our county. 

In a meet among a number of schools, the high jump competition came down to this young woman and another guy. All the other events were finished. The bus drivers were in their buses ready to take everyone home. 

The boys didn’t board the buses to leave, Instead, the different teams ringed the high-jump apron to watch the conclusion of the competition. A roar erupted at each new height the young woman cleared to remain in the competition. 

I can’t remember who won. It really doesn’t matter. We were mesmerized. It was more meaningful to us than Billy Jean King’s win over Bobby Riggs. We were present to see a young woman our age go toe-to-toe against a guy. It was also a damn good competition.

I wish I could remember the name of the young women from the Jr High competition. Nevertheless, World Championship medalist Vashti Cunningham has benefited from her strength

Training Days

During high school, my track coach, Skip Grant, also coached a CYO team. Two young women on this team, Aileen O’Connor and Jill Hayworth, were national class distance runners. At a formidable age, I had an another front row seat to the fact young women are made up of more than sugar and spice and everything nice. Through oppressive Washington, D.C. heat and humanity, frigid winters, mile after mile, Aileen, Jill and the other girls on the CYO club were at practice banging out workouts alongside the boys.

One practice with Aileen stands out to this day. Coach Grant had included her with the boys for a two-mile time trial. I was distressed that Aileen might beat me. I thought, “Here I am one of the best high school 800M runners in the nation and I’m about to get beaten by a girl.”

A gift of Coach Grant’s was he could read minds. He sensed my agitation. Discreetly, he pulled me aside and simply stated, Aileen won’t beat you if you run like you can. 

800M American Record Holder Ajee Wilson. Usain Bolt couldn’t touch her 1:55.61 record time

Aileen beat a number of the boys that day. I ran like I could. A few years later, I came to realize, top women could beat me in races outside of my core events. This fact extends to all men track athletes. In fact, I promise Usain Bolt would not win an 800M race against Ajee Wilson. Leave a comment if you’d like to make a wager.


Athletes abhor those who squander or fail to exploit their talent to the fullest. My good friend and Olympic 1500M finalist, Jeff Atkinson, imagined a device that would measure the effort, grit and determination of an athlete’s performance in relation to their talent. The device would be a true measure of which athletes truly maximized their potential. The device would be called the Pain-O-Meter.

In the absence of a Pain-O-Meter, my training partners and I could only debate who would achieve a top score on the device. One of the few unanimous top scorers on the Pain-O-Meter was a woman in our training group: Pattie Sue Plummer.

Jul 1992: PattiSue Plummer of the USA collapses after her 5th place finish in the 3000 meters at the Barcelona Olympic Games in Spain. \ Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell /Allsport

Pattie Sue arrived at Stanford University with a modest running resume compared to the numerous All-American on the team with her. Belief in her coach, resolve to achieve greatness and an imperviousness to setbacks and challenges guided her to two Olympic Teams and an American record in the 5000M. Women would dominate many spots on a Pain-O-Meter for most endeavors.

The Future

These are my stories. My privilege of a great family, enlightened coaches and thoughtful friends helped me understand what I have described. There are similar stories across all sports. Unfortunately, the decision makers rarely visit these spaces.

Nevertheless, I can end with a hopeful story. In 2015, the United State women’s soccer team won the World Cup. These ladies captivated the country. The team showed what people can achieve when given the proper support.

The Golden Ball winner (Best overall Player) of the tournament was Carli Lloyd. One day during the tournament, my ten year old son, Carlo, had a particularly outstanding soccer game of his own. He took his game to a new level on this day. In appreciation and respect, his teammates, began to call him Carlo Lloyd.

Maybe times are changing.

It’s Over!

The mother of my son’s best friend is Italian. When he was a little boy and out of control she would scream at him, “Basta Lorenzo, Basta!” (Stop it Lorenzo, Enough) 

Please Tiger, retire!

Basta Tiger, Basta!

Someone needs to speak truth to power. Earl’s no longer with us. I don’t know Tiger but maybe someone without a hand in his pocket needs to take a stand.

Basta Tiger Basta!

Dude, you have nothing to prove. So what, Jack Nicklaus will have won more majors than you. Did Nicklaus ever win a major on a broken leg?

I can’t stand these talking heads that state, “If anyone can come back from these horrific injuries it’s Tiger.” The man doesn’t need any more pressure. Can’t we even wait for his condition to stabilize? Then I read a source close to the 45-year old athlete states, “He doesn’t want his career to end like this.” Who is this person? I hope the tail isn’t wagging the Tiger.

The Decline

Plans to end athletic careers are like plans for an aging parents’ care. A transition is inevitable but no one wants to make the plan. Tiger, you should have ended your professional golf career after your 2019 Masters victory if you had a plan. Now, it’s no longer your decision.

It would be unfair of me to callously view the loss associated with the end of a fabulous athletic career. I ran track professionally until I was thirty-one. I know the end is like the death of a child. 

Duct Tape and Gum

Injuries are usually the culprit. Mine was plantar fasciitis and bursitis. I could have tried for just one more season. I, however, knew I’d never be a contender with my wings clipped. On the other hand, Tiger won matches severely compromised. Think again about that broken leg.

Sadly, Tiger ignored the fact he could no longer string together phenomenal workouts day in and day out, week after week for months. He refused to accept fleeting sessions of brilliance are fools’ gold. They aren’t a sign of hope. They are mirages. Your former self would be appalled to think you entered tournaments so unprepared. 

Father Time is Undefeated

Tiger, you will not win another major. Championships are not won on hope as you inferred when Jim Nantz asked your status for the Masters two day before your accident. Majors are won after the work has been done.

The injuries have compounded. The body has worn down from wear and tear and surgeries. Father time is undefeated.

What’s the resistance, Tiger? Who could be better positioned to move on? You have fame, money and power. An almost completed Stanford degree may even open a few more doors for you.

There is life after golf. Tony Romo finished his stellar football career carted off the gridiron as the result of a grizzly back injury. Three years later he’s one of the NFL’s best color commentators. Twenty years from now more people will know him as an announcer than as a football player. Think of John Madden and Pat Summeral. 

The Canvas Was Complete

My former coach told me as my career wound down, “Don’t draw a mustache on that beautiful landscape you painted.” One comeback story may complement the horizon, five comebacks from back surgeries can destroy the whole scene. 

Has there ever been an honest discussion about the toll Tiger’s injuries have had on him and his career? The eleven year drought of a Major victory coincides with Tiger’s rash of injuries, surgeries and the accident with the fire hydrant.

The subsequent thirteen years have been nothing but fits and starts in tournaments coupled with rehab and incomplete recoveries from surgeries. The time has been painful. Physically painful. Emotionally painful. Yet, people want Tiger to come back and play. Can’t we just let him heal first?

A 2015 New York Times article casually notes, “Woods does not sleep well in the best circumstances.” Woods attributed his tough time/fatigue to the ninth year anniversary of his father’s death and his recent breakup with Lindsey Vonn. Physical pain is also a profound contributor to insomnia. Why hasn’t anyone listened?

It all came to a head five weeks after Tiger Woods’ fourth back surgery. On May 29, 2017, Tiger was arrested on a DUI. It was eventually reported he was under the influence of “THC, the active ingredient for marijuana; as well as the painkillers Vicodin and Dilaudid; the anxiety and sleep drug Xanax; and the anti-insomnia drug Ambien in his system when he was arrested.”  The man was in pain.

On the Treadmill

Nothing changed after this incident. Sure, Tiger went to rehab but three months later he was cleared by doctors to swing a club again. That club should have gone where the sun doesn’t shine.

The cycle continued. Fits and starts. Miraculously, the stars aligned and in April 2019 Tiger won the Masters in spite of a neck strain which forced him out of a tournament that March. Who knows what other injuries he played through in spite of the pain. The man won a Major with a broken leg. Oh yea, his ACL was also torn.

The events which led to Tiger’s near fatal accident on February 22nd will never be known. What is clear is that he was in familiar territory: Recovering from his fifth back surgery in December.. “Good morning heartbreak, you old gloomy sight.”

Eyes Wide Shut

It’s incredible no one is willing to say which famous celebrity Tiger most closely resembles. It’s Michael Jackson. The King of Pop was also an insomniac and in a great deal of physical and emotional pain. Remember, Jackson was preparing for his final tour right before he died. Many peoples’ livelihoods and millions of dollars depended on his ability to perform. The pressure broke him. It broke Prince too. It breaks many people whose names we don’t know.

Forget about golf Tiger. You’ve owned golf for a generation. Don’t let it use you anymore. It looked like you had the time of your life  caddying for your son Charlie as he won a junior tournament by five strokes. You can now put your golf career in the rearview mirror.  The game’s future may even live in your own house. It’s time to move on. Take joy in your children. Finally, enjoy life. You deserve it.

The Bridge

Sports are multi-generational. My two teen-aged sons laugh at my music, clothes and just about anything else that defines my generation. However, we cheer the same sports teams. 

My favorite memories from this fall were Sunday NFL football games. The whole day and evening revolved around the performance of the players on our fantasy football teams and the pathetic playoff run of the New York Giants. Yes, D.C. friends, I’ve abandoned the Football Team. Twenty years of Daniel Snyder’s leadership will do that to a person. 

Game Day

Normally on Sundays, the boys would be in their rooms doing their thing. On football Sunday, we’d gather around the TV and watch the games while frantically updating our fantasy football Apps to track our players’ stats. NFL Game Day energized the apartment as highlights flashed onto the TV set. The visual of a stuffed goal-line dive for a TD deepened the pain of the denial of six points. Giant’s futility heightened the importance of our fantasy teams.  It was a lot of football but we had fun.

Outside of football Sunday, my kids don’t have a lot to say.  Few teenage kids are chatty with their parents. Thankfully, my guys aren’t rude or withdrawn. They’re just teenagers and generally teenagers live in their own world. I think psychologists explain it as their quest for independence or something to that effect. 


My high school English teacher confirmed to me I didn’t have much to say to my parents. He once recounted to me a conversation he had with my dad about my lackluster performance in his class. Mr. Piazza was surprised my dad knew so little about what was going on in his class. He asked my dad, “Do you speak with your son, Mr. Brown?” My dad replied, “Do you have a sixteen year old son?” As Mr. Piazza shared the story with me he chuckled, “Now that I have a sixteen year old son your dad’s comment is even more on point. Fortunately, I have been forewarned. 

Sometimes I’ll send my boys a text of a cool picture or meme or something to spur conversation. A day or two eventually goes by and I have to ask, “Hey did you guys see that picture I sent you? They’ll immediately go to their phones to look at my message. “Oh, whoa!”, they inevitably reply. “Damn, Don’t you read your texts?” “Dad, I get my messages on Snapchat”. I guess texting has been around for more than thirty years. No wonder they don’t use it.

Communication would be nonexistent on their trips to sporting events unless I took the initiative to check in. Talk about a realization of independence. The only reason they respond to these messages is because I threaten to rehome the dog if they didn’t. I know they don’t take me seriously me but it works anyway. 

Go to the Video

My favorite message to send when they are on a trip for a game is an inspirational sports movie clip. I’ve made the boys sit through Rocky I, II & III so something from this series is a staple. Adrian lecturing Rocky on the beach in Los Angeles about how they have “everything but the truth” is one of my favorite scenes. Eric Liddell from Chariots of Fire winning the 400M in the 1924 Olympics is enough to inspire anyone to push through the finish line.

Do these clips pump them up? I’d like to think they put them in touch with the emotions they feel before a competition. I doubt they go viral amongst their friends. In any event, a good laugh is always shared when I say in my best Rocky Balboa voice, “For the first time in my life I’m afraid.” What could be a better way to tell someone to confront their fears? 

Non-sports movies have also been used to strike a nerve in the boys. They know Latin from the Dead Poet’s Society Carpe Diem scene. My favorite scene I shared with my youngest son was from Stir Crazy when Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor went to jail.

The Truth

I’m not a movie expert but I have to believe Richard Pryor was the first actor to bring a comic twist to the prison genre. Eddie Murphy copied this move in Trading Places. Kevin Hart made Get Hard which is virtually an entire movie based on Pryor’s iconic jail scene in Stir Crazy. 


It crossed my mind to be more current and send a scene from Get Hard but Richard Pryor is timeless. Plus, he perfectly communicated the message my son needed to hear.

My son was on his way to Medellin, Colombia. His soccer team handedly dealt with the competition they faced in the United States so his club sent them to be “stretched” by tougher competition. It was time to step it up and Richard Pryor couldn’t have given a better pep talk.

Gettin bad . . . You get bad they don’t mess with you!

Enough said, I don’t follow Richard Pryor. 

In conclusion, keep working to connect with the kids. I’ll never forget a friend who sadly told me about the loneliness she felt because her mother didn’t make her check in with her during her weekend outings while in high school. Her mom was an alcoholic. She couldn’t be bothered with the whereabouts of her daughter on Saturday night. Her mother’s neglect will haunt her forever.

New Direction at Dundalk

Irish soccer news rarely reverberates beyond the island nation’s shores. The summer interim appointment, however, of the 50-year-old Italian Filippo Giovagnoli to coach the Irish Premier League team Dundalk FC is a tale of interest for the entire soccer  community. Filippo arrived at Dundalk via the United States youth academy Metropolitan Oval in the New York City borough of Queens. His journey is a story  of an American Dream ultimately realized in Ireland. 

Allenatore (coach) Giovagnoli

Filippo’s career as a professional soccer player never reached beyond the Italian third division  level Serie C. The 6’1” former left back with a shaven head and beard looks like the menacing  defender he claims to have been. He once whimsically said of his playing days, “I was an  animal as a defender. I was a killer.” Beneath the bravado is a self-aware, intelligent and  strategic man not to be underestimated. Ironically, until the appointment at Dundalk his  coaching career has always been at the youth level. 

Met Oval’s sporting director, Jeffrey Saunders, who has ties to the American ownership group  of Dundalk recommended Filippo along with his longtime assistant Giuseppe Rossi to the  Lilywhites. The team’s supporters were dumbfounded by the hire. The press described the  move as a “left field” and “shocking” appointment. Filippo and Giuseppe were undeterred and  in a matter of weeks they righted a team in disarray and improbably led them through  qualifying to a group stage berth in the UEFA Europa League. 

American Youth Soccer

I know Filippo from the five years my boys played at Met Oval. I can attest to his contention  that his youth soccer experience amply prepared him to coach Dundalk. In the States, soccer  is overwhelmingly a pay to play affair. Annual fees for Met Oval’s U8 to U19 teams are more  than $2000. This excludes uniforms, travel and other sundry expenses. Parents expect a great  deal for their expenditure.  

The Met Oval players represent the mosaic of the boroughs of New York City and suburban  Long Island. On one of my son’s teams, parents cheered their kids on in Portuguese, Spanish,  Italian, Polish, Greek, Dutch and English. Some kids are ferried to and from practice by car  services while others rush from the pitch as quickly as possible to catch the unreliable Q54  bus, which notoriously runs on its own schedule. Filippo and his coaching staff held this  disparate array of people together through an obvious love for the game, expert technical and  tactical soccer knowledge, guile, passion and, when needed, a heavy hand. 

Met Oval

The location of Met Oval gives the club its identity and character. Aptly, the club is simply  named for a nearby street, Metropolitan Avenue; Oval is what many fields at the time of its  founding in the 1920’s were called. The pitch is only six miles from midtown Manhattan. Yet  driving along its namesake Metropolitan Avenue to the grounds one passes a prison, a  junkyard, body shops and other industrial blight far removed from midtown’s gleaming spires.  

The entry gate to the pitch is flanked on its north by trees and the tracks of the Long Island  Railroad. Modest row houses are to the south. As one pulls into the gravel driveway leading to  the parking lot, the pitch is not immediately seen because it sits in a gully.

The initial sight to  the west is a panoramic view of Manhattan. Look downtown to the left and the Woolworth  Building comes into view. Look straight ahead into midtown and the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the newly erected One 57, one of the tallest residential buildings in the  world, fill the skyline. The view would be a tourist attraction to rival the Top of the Rock if it were closer to the city. Parents from visiting teams always ask if the view ever gets old? The answer is always “No!” Met Oval is an oasis amongst the unseeing surroundings and everyday life. 

A sixty foot by twenty foot flat-roofed cinder block clubhouse couples the gravel parking lot  east of the field. The Met Oval Logo is proudly stenciled on the outside walls. Underscored in  bold letters is: Youth Center of Excellence.

The cramped office quarters are lined with white  boards to map out game strategies, rosters and schedules. The linoleum floor is perpetually  covered with artificial grass and mud from the coaches boots. A few trophies are displayed  while others have been given away because of a lack of space. Fans and space heaters do  their best to keep the inhabitants as comfortable as possible.

Coaches rarely discard their parkas when they enter the clubhouse after cold December practices. The only luxury is a flat screen TV primarily used to glimpse a soccer match during a rare spare moment. Saunders refers to Daniel Coyle’s book the Talent Code to explain the hidden spirit of Met Oval. Coyle writes, “Luxury is a motivational narcotic. It whispers, Relax, you’ve made it. Talent hotbeds are  sometimes called chicken-wire Harvards. Simple, humble spaces help focus attention on  deep-practice tasks at hand. When given the choice between luxurious and spartan, choose  spartan.” Filippo was right at home. 

New Blood

Filippo’s transition to Met Oval may have been more of a challenge than his start at Dundalk.  His predecessor was the Brit Paul Buckle, the first coach in 24 years to lead a non-league team  to victory over a Premier League team in the English FA Cup. In January 2013 his Luton Town  team stifled Norwich 1-0 in spite of a young Harry Kane playing as Norwich’s striker. The Met  Oval parents and kids were elated a coach with such a strong pedigree now directed their club.  Buckle was fully committed to Met Oval but a sense loomed that he longed to return to the  professional ranks in England. Sure enough, in less than a year, he headed home to coach  League 2 Cheltenham. Subsequently, Filippo’s arrival was viewed with heavy scrutiny given the  thinness of his resume compared to Buckle’s.  

As the head of a youth academy, Filippo’s primary charge was to develop talent. The parents,  however, were largely fixated on winning games. Age groups were split into blue and white  teams. Blue was to comprise the club’s top players and white would be made up of the next  level of players. Initially, Filippo ignored this norm and compiled rosters according to a vision known only to him. Grumbles met the email containing each week’s game line-up as people  attempted to decipher why their child was matched to his team. Filippo’s only response would  be, “Blue, white, what difference does it make? Just play the game.” In probably his only nod to parent dissatisfaction, Filippo eventually bowed to the norm, designating the blue team as  his strongest and white as the second best.  


The tiering of teams only created a new problem because parents were asked to mark their  child’s availability for the blue and white games even though they had a designated team. Unfortunately, this also encouraged one parent to  attempt to game the system and only mark his child available for the blue matches even through his kid was firmly rooted on the white team. Filippo immediately sniffed out stunt. He subsequently placed the child permanently on the blue team but barely played him.  Filippo knew a non-believer was in his midst. The father realized his colors were discovered and quit the club.

Two years later the child returned with his new team for a match against Met Oval. The father anxiously watched the teams battle to a 2-2 draw that saw Met  Oval level the score in the waning minutes. As he despondently walked to his car, he crossed  paths with a woman giddy from the exciting game and called her a fat pig. The situation nearly  came to blows as a Met Oval father demanded an apology. Filippo’s intuition about the man was confirmed.  

Early in Filippo’s Dundalk tenure, team captain Brian Gartland offered his assessment of Filippo  and Giuseppe. Gartland was actually impressed. “On the first day Filippo addressed the players. He told us what he wanted, how he wanted us to do it and told us the plan. They’re confident,  organized, structured and know what they want.”

Filippo’s approach is reminiscent of lessons out of my Management of Organizational Change classes from business school or the FIFA Pro License study guide. Who needs stinking licenses? Passion and commitment are Filippo’s lodestar. A person driven by these qualities is bound to figure it out. 

Buy In

At Met Oval, Filippo and Giuseppe periodically addressed the parents and explained their  vision for the club’s teams. At the end of each fall and spring season, the players received an  assessment called TIPS: Technical, Insight, Personality and Speed. The evaluation is based on  the methodology popularized by the famed Dutch Academy, Ajax. It gave substance to the  coaches’ observations.

The coaches spoke of the curriculum and expectations they had for their players with the same intent and seriousness as teachers addressing parents at parent/ teacher conferences. They taught us the importance of technical development and why they  would wait until the boys were U13/U14 before they began to emphasize tactics. Many people  fail to recognize that youth coaches need to be able to work well with adults as well as kids.  The parents have to be sold before they sign the kids up for the program. 

Any Dundalk fan who has watched Filippo and Giuseppe coach clearly sees the passion they  bring to their jobs. Their animated sideline histrionics are already legendary. They expressed  the same enthusiasm at Met Oval when they coached games only a few people watched and  even fewer would remember.  

One of my favorite memories was a U12 game where Filippo was on the sideline as an observer to support a young new coach. The game started off poorly. The boys were not in synch. They were lethargic and unmotivated. Filippo was agitated but respected the young coach’s dominion. The young coach silently observed each errant pass and weak run. He clearly embraced the lessons from his licensing classes, which taught coaches to let young players figure out solutions to the problems in a game on their own. Don’t shout instructions. The kids should learn by trial and error. Let them play the game without influence from you. Winning isn’t important. The process is key.

The boys were down 0-2 at the half and Filippo was furious—not at the boys, at the coach.  One trait Filippo demanded was desire. He passed the same licensing courses but he clearly  did not subscribe to the entire curriculum. He believed players derived energy from their coach.  Unimpassioned leadership was intolerable regardless of what the licensing committee deemed  appropriate. 

Dai! Dai! Dai!

Filippo’s face bore the pain he felt for the boys as they played far below their potential. As the  second half began, the reins he placed on himself in the first half slowly loosened. At first, he  subtly motioned for a defender to play farther up, a winger to fill a lane. One could clearly see his hesitance to interfere but he could no longer contain himself. Next, words of  encouragement from Filippo began to pepper the pitch. The young coach remained mute. Met  Oval scored midway through the half. It was 1-2. Filippo and the boys were encouraged.

As the  boys played better, Filippo became more engaged. His trademark “Dai! Dai!” (come on, let’s  go) echoed throughout the field. His discretion gave way to animation. Filippo began to wave the boys along the pitch as if his movements would lift them to the spot he wanted them on the field.

The boys began to win the 50/50 balls they weren’t even close to in the first half. Suddenly, the score  was level. The parents became excited, Filippo was in full form and the boys were now playing with passion. Honestly, I can’t remember if the boys won this game. What mattered most was the unbound energy and joy Filippo instilled in them. Filippo may have even said they played like animals. So much for FIFA licenses. 

U14s Looking like pros

Filippo met the press on the second day he took the helm at Dundalk. Rumors swirled that the  ownership team would interfere with his team selections. When asked whether he would allow his authority to be undermined should any board member attempt to influence team matters,  Filippo firmly replied, “This is not the deal that we have. No, I’m not going to take words. I’m  the boss.” He channeled José Mourinho, or anyone else exceptional at his or her craft.

Filippo  knows soccer. He doesn’t need help to do his job. He doesn’t refer to a manual for guidance.  He told anyone who questioned his decisions while at Met Oval, “The field speaks.” Filippo  hears the field as clearly and effectively as anyone in the business. He is a testament to hard  work and belief in one’s self. The kids and parents at Met Oval will miss him. Dundalk is lucky  to have him as their new head coach.

Get Fit

Welcome to Insight880. First of all, please read the About tab. It helps put the point of view of the blog into perspective.

My first post is inspired by a plague of journalism since its inception: Sensationalization. In this case, a story is twisted to create a feud between two athletes. 

Is Zion Fit?

The website Fansided featured a story titled, “Hall of Famer Criticizes Duke Basketball Legend Zion Williamson.” Oh my God, when is the fight in the parking lot?

In short, Matt Giles’ wrote an article based on a podcast interview The Knuckleheads (NBA veterans Quinton Richardson and Darius Miles) conducted with fourteen time NBA All-Star Karl Malone. Giles chose to inflame one sentence of a two hour interview with Malone. What did Malone say? “Zion Williamson needs to get in shape”. 

The Challenge

Apparently, it is an insult for a guy with a 543 consecutive game streak to question the fitness of a second year pro. The reality is such an observation is a gift. In the interview, Malone credited his fitness program as a major contributor to his distinguished career. Malone colorfully recounted how former All-Star Adrian Dantley mentored him while they were teammates with the Utah Jazz. Dantley said to Malone,

The OG Adrian Dantley

“Young fella, you want to play ten years or twenty and make a lot of money? Your first four, five years you’re gonna bounce back real quick because you’re young. Start working out now and take care of your body. Ice your knees, lift. If you stay ready, you’re not gonna have to get ready.” 

Pass the Torch

Dantley passed the torch to Malone. Now Malone has passed the torch to Zion. “We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.”

The real headline from the Malone interview should have been: “NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone offers to train Zion for FREE!” One could hear Richardson and Miles fall off their chairs when Malone made this statement. The full quote was:

“I love Zion Williamson. Zion needs to get into shape. If he doesn’t get into shape we might not ever know his full potential. . . I’m less than five hours away. If he ain’t bull shitting me and he’s not having all his people talking for him, I’ll work with him for FREE! I’m talking to you and not who’s handling you. All you have to do is pick up the phone.”

Pelican and NBA fans better hope Zion calls Malone or somebody because he needs to get into shape.


When I watch sports I like to evaluate the speed and fitness of players. In light of the debate on Zion’s fitness, I will segue to football for a vivid example of the impact fitness has on a player’s performance.

The sports world went crazy over Dan Jones’ faceplant which ended his 80 yd. bootleg against the Eagles. What happened?

Dan Jones needs to get into shape. The problem with all explosive sports is the trainers do not know how to get their athletes in shape. Generally, the football community says, “A quarterback will never run more than 40yds on a play, so he only needs to prepare for quick, short bursts. Therefore, a guy collapses to end an 80 yds run because he never prepared to run so far.

Dan Jones is actually a great athlete and he can run. A long touchdown run in camp during his rookie season “sent the offense into histrionics and left the team buzzing after practice.” So, what happened on that fateful night against Philadelphia?

Let’s go to the tape

In the track world, we would say Jones’ legs got out from underneath him. He is clearly only conditioned to run 40 yds so when he got to the 60yd mark his body just fell apart. 

Early in the run Jones looked like a sprinter. He didn’t lumber down the field. He sailed towards the end zone like a fleet footed wide receiver. He was on his toes. He had a perfect forward lean and efficient stride. His knees and arms were in sync and effortlessly pumping. Jones actually hit the season’s second fastest speed of all players at 21.23 mph on this play. 

The Fall

Then Jones’ hips dropped. This is not good. It was the third quarter when fatigue rears its ugly head. Jones was tired. One could see the power of his movement evaporate. Jones’ weak hamstrings, one of which would pull a few weeks later, failed him. This breakdown is tantamount to the shut down of an engine. His implosion was solely a matter of a lack of fitness. Jones’ fabulous run confirms his promise. It should not call his talent or future into question.

These trainers have never figured out if a guy can run 100 yds really well it will improve his 40. In addition, they have forgotten Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Jerry Rice didn’t. He was the fittest athlete in the League throughout his career. That’s a major reason he’s in the Hall of Fame. Let’s hope he’d take a call from Dan Jones.