Archive for June, 2010

ESPN’s World Cup coverage has been great. Now they need to do the same for MLS.

June 27, 2010

ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup has been excellent.  Chris Fowler, Mike Tirico, and Bob Ley have done a great job of hosting pre-match, halftime, and post-match shows. Color commentators Alexi Lalas, Steve McManaman, Ruud Gullit, Roberto Martinez, Jurgen Klinsmann and Shaun Bartlett have been spot on. The questions asked by Fowler, Tirico, and Ley shows they have done their homework, and ESPN is treating the World Cup with great respect – of course they have the broadcast rights to it along with ABC.

“Show it and they will come” – just like “Build it and they will come.”

Now ESPN needs to cover MLS more.  There are hour long SportsCenters in which ESPN not only doesn’t show any MLS highlights, but they don’t even mention any scores. Hockey has grown in the U.S. in large part because ESPN covers it so much. They should do the same for soccer, and MLS should try to get a contract with ESPN. If hockey can make it in the U.S., soccer can. A lot more Americans have played soccer than hockey.

Most people under 50 played soccer when they were young.  So there are more people who have played soccer than ever before in the U.S. The sport may never overtake football and basketball in America, but it may overtake hockey and baseball within 30 years.

ESPN should pay more attention to soccer and treat it with respect like Fowler, Tirico, and Ley have. Some of the anchors still joke about it when they show highlights because they think it’s a stupid sport or they don’t like the fact that some of the names of players are foreign-sounding.

ESPN: just cover MLS. You don’t have to do it a lot, just a few minutes each show, and do the occasional feature.  Whoever thinks that a ratio of 20 minutes of baseball highlights to 6 minutes of golf highlights to 0 minutes of soccer is best for the network is flat out wrong.  How about a ratio of 18 minutes of baseball to 6 minutes of golf to 2 minutes of MLS.  At least that’s better than nothing.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) can enhance speech, social skills for kids with autism

June 27, 2010

Last month the top 10 mistakes and lessons learned from therapy programs for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) were examined in this column.

Now here’s number 11: Parents (or teachers) refusing to try augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for non-verbal or minimally verbal children or adults with autism.

People with autism often have delays or deficits in communication, especially speech. However, many children and adults with autism have considerably better receptive than expressive skills. That means that they understand a lot more than it appears.

AAC systems can take the place of, or supplement and enhance speech by enabling people who don’t have typical verbal abilities communicate better. AAC systems can improve the ability of children and adults with autism and other disabilities to initiate requests and respond to questions.

To see the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

U.S. soccer team wastes an opportunity in losing to Ghana

June 26, 2010

Overall it was a decent showing by the U.S. soccer team to make it to the knockout round in the World Cup but they wasted an opportunity in losing to Ghana. The U.S. played well in the second half but it wasn’t good enough. Jozy Altidore didn’t do much although he made a nice attempt on a goal with his left foot after he was tripped – that could have been called a penalty.

Robbie Findley made a weak shot right at the goalie, near the ground, and Michael Bradley did the same thing, though he had a great tournament.  It’s called not coming up big when it counts. I’m happy the shots didn’t go 100 yards over the goal like a lot of other shots at the World Cup did, but they could have made better efforts.  We’ll never know if the Americans’ defense would have been better if Oguchi Onyewu had played. Tim Howard had a bad angle on the goal too.

It was a failure, but there’s always 2014. The players should feel badly.  They may never get another chance like that again.  It’s just that both Ghana and Uruguay were beatable – the U.S. could have made it to the semis for the first time ever. At least now a team from Africa has made it to the final 8.

NBC’s Sports Report: no mention at all of U.S. World Cup soccer game? Disgraceful.

June 26, 2010

I just watched an NBC Sports Report during Wimbledon coverage at 1:55 p.m., five minutes before ABC’s coverage of the World Cup soccer match between the U.S. and Ghana was about to begin.  Andrea Joyce first did a promo for the U.S. Track and Field Championships, then did a promo for some Mountain Dew extreme sports event.  Then she said, “Let’s start with baseball.” After doing baseball stories for a couple of minutes, she finished the “Sports Report” without even mentioning the soccer match.  Shame on NBC. Sure they have competing coverage of another sport, but they could have at least mentioned it – even in just one sentence.  That was disgraceful.

NBA Draft: Wizards get Wall with top pick, Hoyas’ Monroe goes to Detroit, Terps’ Vasquez to Memphis

June 24, 2010

As has been expected ever sinceWashington won the NBA Draft Lottery last month, the Wizards selected Kentucky point guard John Wall with the first selection in the draft Thursday night.

Also in the first round, former Georgetown center Greg Monroe was selected seventh by the Detroit Pistons and former Maryland point guard Greivis Vasquez was taken 28th by the Memphis Grizzlies.

Vasquez, Maryland’s second all-time leading scorer, jumped up and down when his name was called and hugged his parents. Vasquez told ESPN, “We have a great roster. Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo…I just can’t wait to get to training camp and work hard. This means a lot to me and my country back in Venezuela.”

The only other time the Wizards had the number one pick was in 2001 when they selected Kwame Brown right out of high school, but Brown turned out to be a bust. Wall, however, is expected to be close to a sure thing. He averaged 16.6 points and 6.5 assists during his only season at Kentucky and was a Consensus First Team All-America.

To see the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Isner and Mahut in epic battle at Wimbledon – longest match in history

June 23, 2010

John Isner of the U.S. and Nicolas Mahut of France are playing a marathon tennis match at Wimbledon. Isner leads Mahut 41 games to 40 in the fifth set.  It’s the longest match in tennis history.  Records have already been set for the longest set and match ever in number of games and length of time. Also most aces combined.

Isner, the 23rd seed, leads the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 41-40.  Watch it on ESPN2 to see history being made.

I once played a long set in a match that would determine who got the final singles spot on the high school tennis team. The loser would play number one doubles.  You had to play an 8-game pro-set, so the first to 8 games would win, but you had to win by two games.  So I ended up losing, 17-15.  It was my worst loss ever, absolutely devastating, because I felt sure I was going to play singles.  My mistake was going for a water break up 15-14.  I lost some momentum then.  But I ended up going 12-3 in doubles.  In singles I probably would’ve been closer to .500.

When will it end?  I have to go now, but I’ll guess that it’ll be something like 48-46.  Unbelievable and awesome.  What a great sports day with the earlier drama of the U.S. beating Algeria in soccer in the final minute to advance in the World Cup.

Great ending for U.S. soccer in the World Cup against Algeria

June 23, 2010

What a great result today from the U.S. with Landon Donovan’s goal on the rebound, after so many misses (Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey) earlier on.  To score a goal like that two minutes before the end of the game to beat Algeria and advance is remarkable and highly unlikely.  It was all started by a good save by goalie Tim Howard, and then he didn’t hesitate and threw the ball quickly upfield.  If the U.S. plays Serbia in the second round instead of Germany, they will have an excellent chance to move on to the quarterfinals.

World Cup soccer: Put it in the net, or at least close

June 23, 2010

Today in the 37th minute of the World Cup soccer match between the U.S. and Algeria, Jozy Altidore had a point blank shot that went way, way, above the goal.  I realize the stakes are very high and there was some traffic in front of the net.  I said in an earlier blog entry that even though I’m not a good dribbler, have poor endurance, and no speed or quickness, if I had a point blank shot at the goal, I would either make the goalie make a play, or if I missed, at least the shot would be respectable. I wouldn’t shoot it 60 feet above, to the right, or to the left of the goal.  20 feet, maybe.  I know it sounds ridiculous, naive, arrogant to think that I could shoot better than some of these world class players, but I would not miss by a ton on easy shots.  I also wouldn’t do what Landon Donovan, one of the greatest soccer players in U.S. history, did in the MLS final last year, when he shot the ball above the goal during the shootout.

World Cup soccer: bad kicks and worse calls

June 20, 2010

Let me preface this by saying I am by no means a great soccer player. I do think it’s just about the most fun sport I’ve ever played, but I haven’t played in a league since I was 12, played a bit of intramurals in college, and played some pickup games a few years ago.

I don’t have any speed, quickness, dribbling ability or endurance. However, unlike some of the players in the World Cup, I can get a shot on goal.  I know it sounds ridiculous, maybe incredibly naive or arrogant to say that – they’re under great pressure and have people chasing them.

But if I had a clear shot on goal that was within the penalty box, I’m pretty sure that I would get a shot on goal, making the goalie make a save, or at least not miss the goal by a whole lot. Some of these guys are missing the goal by a mile.  They kick it so far above the goal or so far to the right  or the left of it, it’s hard to believe. So, yes, if I had a clear shot with no one covering me, I’d kick it on goal or at least make it respectable.

Second, the call against the U.S. in the last game against Slovenia disallowing Maurice Edu’s apparent winning goal was a terrible call – everybody agrees with that. Let’s hope that that call was just a mistake and not part of some scandal. The ref wouldn’t even tell the players after the game what the call was. If anything, it should have been a penalty kick for the U.S. because two players were being held.  Before you say no, there was a scandal in Italian soccer four years ago. The goal could mean the difference between the U.S. advancing and not advancing.  And how about one of Brazil’s goals today against Cote D’Ivoire? It looked like a possible hand ball, and after the goal, the ref was joking about it with the Brazilian player.

Books and other materials for young children with autism should motivate, make learning meaningful

June 20, 2010

From "My First Words Touch and Feel Pictures Cards," dk.com

Studies show that enjoyment and success in reading early on are major factors in predicting how well young children will readin the future, which is especially true for children with autism and other special needs.

In addition to motivation, children with autism usually need to have new concepts broken down into simple steps for them to be successful.

To learn pre-reading and early reading skills, books with few ideas per page, large text, colorful pictures, and tactile textures can help keep the interest of children with autism. Lyrical language and rhymes can help kids memorize word families, hold their attention and keep them motivated.

To see the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.


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