U.S. Soccer’s Klinsmann on the hot seat


U.S. Soccer men’s national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has come under intense scrutiny over the course of the past week. Following two dismal displays — a 2-1 loss to Mexico and a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Costa Rica — the calls for his job have gotten louder.

When U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati was asked following the Costa Rica match whether or not they were mulling a change, he remained noncommittal.

“We’ll think about what happened today and talk with Jurgen and look at the situation,” he said.

According to ESPN FC, the U.S. Soccer Federation has been in contact with potential replacements for almost a year. Still, three days removed from the last game, Klinsmann’s status remains in limbo.

Interestingly, the opinion across American media is almost unanimous that he should be fired. For example, Grant Wahl, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, recently wrote an article titled “It’s time for USA to move on from Jurgen Klinsmann.”

In addition to Wahl’s SI piece, Yahoo Sports, ESPN, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation have all published columns calling for Klinsmann to lose his job. On top of that, many of the same major sports publications have already moved on to reporting a list of potential replacements.

This, of course, is not a promising sign for Klinsmann. While Gulati and the USSF are ultimately in charge of the decision, the mounting pressure could force their hand.

This is an example of the power of media and its ability to create change, at least in the world of sports.

Miami Heat begin new season


The 2016-17 NBA season began this week and with it comes a whole new set of narratives. Perhaps most relevant to the city of Miami, is the expectation for the Heat.

This season symbolizes the first year of life without any of the “Big Three.” With LeBron James winning a title in Cleveland, Dwyane Wade choosing to represent his hometown Chicago Bulls, and Chris Bosh’s career being in doubt due to blood clots, the core of one of the most dominant NBA teams in recent memory has disassembled.

As a result, the Heat is expected to enter a transition period in which they struggle. According to NBA experts in Las Vegas, Miami is expected to win about 36 games — 12 less than last year.

Many pundits and prominent news media members have picked the Heat to miss out on the playoffs entirely. ESPN’s Amin Elhassan, for example, bluntly stated that he believes the team “isn’t very good.” This is in stark contrast with what Elhassan thought of last year’s roster — one he picked to reach the NBA finals.

These are just a few examples of the overwhelming negativity surrounding the team’s prospects for this season. There is, however, one rather distinguished voice backing the Heat to surprise some people.

Notorious Boston Celtics fan and self-proclaimed Miami sports hater Bill Simmons has picked the Heat to not only make the playoffs, but be a six-seed in the East.

Simmons’ endorsement, while surprising, is credible. He points to the team’s core of  Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow as an exciting one with incredible potential – especially on the defensive end.

Though there is no way to know which side of the prediction spectrum will be more accurate, Miami natives will be hoping it falls closer to Simmons’ end.

No politics, ESPN warns Le Batard


Miami-based ESPN personality — and University of Miami graduate — Dan Le Batard is no stranger to controversy. He has a history of testing the limits of his employers… and getting suspended for doing so.

For example, he’s been suspended for paying for billboards mocking LeBron James and calling an ESPN film about Bob Knight a “mountain of elephant crap.” He even lost his MLB Hall of Fame vote for allowing Deadspin to cast his ballot one year.

Le Batard, though, has had good reason for each of these actions; whether it be in the name of fun or in protest.

He’s also notorious for hosting a national radio show on ESPN that isn’t necessarily about sports. He focuses on the pop culture and social elements of the sports world and often ventures entirely out of this environment.

So when the footage of Donald Trump’s conversation with Billy Bush leaked and was defended as “locker room talk,” Le Batard suggested that the controversy was right in his show’s wheelhouse.

When he asked the rules surrounding his ability to talk about the subject, his producer told him that he “probably said too much already.” While he said he understood the hesitancy by ESPN to approach anything regarding politics, he was upset that they didn’t trust him enough to cover the subject without taking a political stance.

Le Batard later admitted that he would be suspended if he did end up talking about the Trump tape on air.

While it may be sensible that ESPN try and avoid anything that could result in political stances being taken, Le Batard has a proven track record of handling tricky subjects without displaying any bias.

It’s also interesting that the Colin Kaepernick protest sparked conversations on ESPN airwaves that contained political opinions and no objections were raised. Clearly the issue is taking a stance on an issue involving a candidate running for office.

Unreasonable expectations for Leicester


Leicester City has enjoyed an unbelievable run of success dating back to their relegation escape two seasons ago and culminating in the hoisting of the Premier League trophy last May. This year, however, their results have been more believable than that reality.

That’s not to say that it’s all bad either. While they may not be flying as high as they did on their way to the title, they’re still clear of the relegation zone and top of their Champions League group.

News media coverage, though, appears to indicate that this season has been a disappointment so far.

While this would seem like fair coverage of a team that went from winning the league to toiling in 12th place, Leicester is no ordinary story.

The team famously overcame 5000/1 odds to win the English Premier League last season. They were even a popular pick to finish last at the start of the season.

With all of this in mind, many supporters of the club will likely be content with their current standing. As a team that isn’t a traditional powerhouse, a repeat of last year shouldn’t have been expected.

Still, pundits across the world have considered their performance thus far to be underwhelming.

Another factor that has largely gone unmentioned is how much time they have to make a push. Just 7 games into a 38-game season, their fate is far from sealed.

A story as special and unprecedented as Leicester’s shouldn’t be tarnished by unreasonable expectations. Hopefully the pressure many have placed on their shoulders will not be too much to bear.

Chris Bosh’s NBA career likely over


Miami Heat superstar forward Chris Bosh failed a physical in an attempt to return to NBA action, meaning that he won’t be cleared to participate in training camp for the new season. He has suffered from blood clots that have put an end to each of his last two seasons.

Since he failed the physical, Bosh has fired his agent and Heat president Pat Riley has conceded that his career with the franchise is likely over. Riley also stated that the team is not actively working towards a return.

Bosh is featuring in a documentary-style series on Uninterrupted.com that details his struggle and aspirations to play again. In the series, he said that he felt Heat doctors were quick to write him off.

This situation has the makings of a dramatic end to a great relationship between player and franchise.

While Bosh understandably is pushing to be able to return to what he says he was “made to do,” there is simply too much risk involved for him to be cleared.

The majority of news media coverage has centered on this brewing controversy. What has been largely overlooked, however, is just how dangerous Bosh’s situation is to his health.

When he was first diagnosed with blood clots one of the most prevalent public narratives was that if he tried to play, it would be plausible that he could die on the court.

In general, athletes are told that playing contact sports while on blood thinners can be risky, as there is the potential for internal bleeding or other complications.

This time around, the news media seem more concerned with what Bosh may do to try and play and what that will mean for the Heat. Although it’s been covered before, it seems as if the gravity of his condition is no longer being emphasized as it should be.

NBA’s Steve Kerr speaks out


Colin Kaepernick, however you may feel about him, undeniably started a movement across the sporting landscape that shows no signs of slowing down.

His public protest sparked responses (both in support of and against him) from people involved in every major North American sport. From Megan Rapinoe in soccer, to Adam Jones and Tony La Russa in baseball, John Tortorella in hockey, and now Golden State Coach Steve Kerr (among others) in basketball.

The reaction to each of these people, however, has varied. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Steve Kerr and Colin Kapernick — who are sharing similar messages — have received very different public feedback.

While Kerr may not have made the same grandiose gesture Kaepernick did, he still expressed many of the same sentiments.

“No matter what side of the spectrum you are on, I would hope that every American is disgusted with what is going on around the country, with what happened in Tulsa two days ago, Terrence Cutcher … Unarmed black people are being killed indiscriminately around the country. And that’s what happened two days ago. That’s the message. That’s what matters. The other stuff you can talk about all day. Nobody is right. Nobody is wrong,” Kerr stated.

He even goes on to mention Kaepernick by name and cosign his movement. He says that the statement is “what our country is about” and praises the merits of the nonviolent protest.

The feedback Kerr, a white male, has gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. A simple search of his name on Twitter will yield nearly nothing but positive comments.

Do the same with Kaepernick, however, and the story is much different. The result will be endless streams of hate and death threats – something he publicly acknowledged – sprinkled with little rational commentary.

This discrepancy is both predictable and disturbing. Both men shared honest, eloquent, and important statements to shed light on a troubling situation.

The backlash that only one of them received serves as a fitting juxtaposition. It only adds more evidence of the discrimination that these men are commenting on.

Hurricanes to take on App State


The Miami Hurricanes football team will head to Boone, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 17, to face notorious underdogs, the Appalachian State Mountaineers.

Appalachian State is famous for its stunning upset of then fifth-ranked Michigan on the opening weekend of the 2007 season. At the time, the Mountaineers were still part of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Now, though, they are a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team who play in the Sun Belt Conference.

While they have moved up in the college football hierarchy, they are still not on par with the likes of Miami, which is in a Power Five conference, the ACC.

You wouldn’t know it from the pregame coverage, however.

The national narrative surrounding this game seems to suggest that the Canes should be on upset alert. They are only slight favorites in Vegas (-3.5), and have been singled out by writers and pundits as candidates to be dethroned.

USA Today, for example, published an article calling the game a “huge test” for 25th-ranked Miami. The piece highlights all the potential pitfalls in the match-up for the favorites.

It mentions how App State started this season by taking No. 9 Tennessee to overtime in Knoxville. The article also points out that it will be a home game for the Mountaineers; offering fans of the team a rare opportunity to see a major team come into town — something that will surely rile them up.

While these are indisputable observations, many key factors are being ignored. For one, the Hurricanes are the major team for a reason: talent.

The growing narrative sweeping people up is a result of the love of a good underdog story, nostalgia for 2007, and the national distaste for the Miami football program.

Unfortunately for everybody else, the Hurricanes are the superior team — something they will set out to prove on Saturday.

Cam Newton battered in opener


The NFL season began with a match-up between last season’s Super Bowl finalists – the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.

The game was a close affair that came down to a last-second field goal attempt by the Panthers. After a strategic icing of the kicker by Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak, Graham Gano pulled his 50-yard attempt wide left.

This game provided more story lines than just the final score, however.

Following the defeat, reporters asked reigning MVP Cam Newton about concussion testing he seemed to be receiving on the sideline.

“I don’t remember,” he said, “Too much going through my head right now.”

While it may be possible Newton was just too busy to recall the kind of questions he was asked, many news media outlets appear to be questioning it. The concern is that his foggy memory is a result of the repeated blows to the head he took during the game.

Newton was knocked around throughout the affair and looked shaken-up on more than one occasion.

Traditionally, cases similar to this one would go unnoticed and unreported, but things are different this time.

While Newton’s stardom certainly played a part in the coverage, it was likely not the only factor. A growing public awareness of concussions and the effects of repeated head trauma in the NFL has led to a much-needed sensitivity on the topic.

What once was considered, “just a part of football,” is now being recognized for the major issue it truly is.

Thanks to some shoddy refereeing, most of the helmet-to-helmet hits were not penalized. This has opened the referees up to warranted public criticism.

If they can’t protect the NFL’s brightest star, who can they protect?