Tough Love

You can’t force love. It’s there or it isn’t.

When I started out on my mission, I wanted to promote my passion of freestyle soccer to those around me. I planned everything out, but to be completely honest, I was skeptical from the start. And I was right to be. In a culture where soccer is a secondary sport, it is really hard to garner interest in those who have never extensively before to take on freestyle soccer, which essentially requires a lot more time commitment than actual soccer. Even in Southern California, the hotbed of US soccer, many spurn soccer as a “wussy” sport that doesn’t hold a candle to traditional American sports like football, basketball, baseball, or hockey. While I strongly disagree to this point, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and as the old proverb goes, you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. Nevertheless, I carried on.

I created a website specifically for this project and filmed, edited, and uploaded videos onto YouTube and then embedded them onto the website. Needless to say, I enjoyed the process very much, even though I did not get much in return: twenty-odd views on my YouTube videos. The silver lining was several people in my classes actually saw the video and started making jokes about it to me. This may not be very encouraging to some, but to me it meant that they viewed through the video and remembered enough of it to be able to make fun of it. Any publicity is good publicity.

After school, I always carried around a tennis ball in case anyone wanted to juggle. Juggling a tennis ball is immensely harder than juggling a soccer ball, but if a person does not give up with the tennis ball, then there is enough interest to continue with a soccer ball. Also, it is beneficial for anyone because juggling tennis balls enhances your foot-eye coordination a lot more than you would expect. Since the ball is quite small, it requires intense concentration to even make decent contact with the ball, let alone keep it up in the air.

I will definitely continue to make these types of videos as I greatly enjoy it. I used to do a collab YouTube channel with a college friend in which we take and record free kicks, but it has been inactive for a while as he can’t make the time out of his studies anymore. This website and the video series will continue in the spirit of that YouTube channel.

And I will continue to carry tennis balls around in case anyone wants to play.

The Bench Clearing B.R.A.W.L.

We are the Guys in the Corner (Group 8, Period 5). Using the data from our results, I have been able to mathematically gauge our success. Our scores across two rounds were 9+ and 9 out of 10, giving us an average of 9.125.  We beat out the average for our period, which ended up to be 9.063. Our period is extremely strong, which is apparent as the average score-per-round across all three periods is 8.769. Therefore, numerically speaking, I feel that we have done very well.

Here is the scoring:

(+) gave you 0.25 points, a (++) gave you 0.5 points, and a (-) took away 0.25 points.

Period 2 Average: 8.761

Period 3 Average: 8.511

Period 5 Average: 9.063

Total Average: 8.769

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180 Days and 90 Minutes

“The only source of knowledge is experience,” – Albert Einstein

After all is said and done, nothing you ever do will be perfect. There will always be flaws, things you wished you tweaked just ever so slightly, major issues that you failed to address. I started my blog wanting to connect all my experiences with the sport I love, but I have strayed away from that path multiple times. This is my one real regret, that I haven’t stayed completely true to my goal. Yet, I still feel that blogging has been very beneficial as it has provided me a platform to reach out to a large audience on WordPress. My 6th grade teacher, who still stays in contact with me, has followed my blog since the beginning, and when we do see each other in person, he would tell me how much he enjoys my blogs as he scrolls down his WordPress feed and how often he didn’t even realize it was written by me. I remembered how I used to (and still) read HIS articles on his own website and feeling pretty impressed with how he managed to attract thousands of people with his writing. To know that he will also be reading what I write gives me a huge sense of accomplishment.

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The Scandinavian Model

Recently, I blogged about how standards of living and politics of a country does have an effect on its international soccer successes. At the current forefront of government efficiency and transparency are the Scandinavian countries up north, the likes of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. While lacking the bright sunshine and beautiful weather of a Mediterranean climate system, the icy nations do have a very warm and fuzzy socialist system that is definitely not the dreaded “Red” communism. Their citizens are among the happiest, if not the happiest, of any sovereign state, and it is really eye-opening for me, someone who lives in the United States, in a different system of government.

snowflakes are hexagons

Back in medieval and ancient times, the Scandinavians (i.e. Swedes, Norwegians, Icelandic, and Finnish) were infamous for their brutality and effectiveness as a raiding culture.  In fact, the Scandinavian raiders, contemporarily known as Vikings, still are infamous in the modern world.  However, modern Scandinavia is much more well known for its almost utopian quality of living for all of its citizens.

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Politics Meets Soccer

Politics and soccer do not intuitively relate. Soccer is viewed as a middle-class sport for kids and Sunday League players to exercise a few hours every week while politics is the playground for the bigwigs of the world, white-collar men and women with Ivy League degrees and years of experience playing golf and equestrian sports.

Soccer is the ultimate consumer sport. It is very cheap to play and keeps the kids off the streets. However, with the massive player pool, only the best will go on to play at the highest level. Theoretically, as with anything else, the larger the resources pool, in this case, population, the better the product. So the most populous country should also be the most dominant in the sport. But, because this is real life, theories don’t always work out to be correct. China, with just over 1.4 billion people at the time of this post, should be producing world class players at an unprecedented rate. One look at China’s national team will provide no familiar names unless you live in China or are following the Chinese Super League. Due to the fact that almost all Chinese players play within China, the only Chinese player in the best-selling soccer game FIFA 15, which does not have the rights to the Chinese Super League, is Wang Shangyuan, a midfielder for the Belgium-based Club Brugge. This leads us to the next point. Belgium, as of late, has been on the rise and are sitting pretty at No. 3 in FIFA’s current world rankings. China is lagging behind at No. 82. What is especially astonishing is that Belgium’s population is a mere 11.1 million people.


On the global population rankings, China is No. 1 and Belgium is No. 76. To reiterate, FIFA places Belgium at No. 3 and China at No. 82. So how is China, who has roughly 140 people for every Belgian, so bad at soccer? It is not due to lack of interest, as it is still the one of the top spectator sports in China (along with basketball, badminton, and table tennis). Neither is Belgium producing a generation of superhuman athletes, although it may seem so at times with all their national team players among the best in the world. A closer look at the FIFA rankings and the recently released World Happiness Index will reveal that all the top FIFA countries also have very, very happy populations. It is no coincidence that four of the top nine FIFA countries are within the top 20 happiest countries in the world (Belgium, Brazil, The Netherlands, Switzerand). Three other top-ranking FIFA countries worth mentioning is Germany at No. 26 in the Happiness Index, Uruguay at No. 32, and Colombia at No. 33.


So, other factors put aside, there seems to be a very relevant correlation between a country’s happiness and its successes in international soccer. A country’s happiness, as defined in the WHI report, depends upon the GDP per capita, life expectancy, social welfare, freedom, generosity, perception of corruption, and an imaginary “dystopia” value used in the algorithm to create a base benchmark for every country. Almost undeniably, these happiness quotas are heavily affected by the nation’s government and its political and corporate bodies. Logically, then, by the transitive law, a country’s successes in soccer is a reflection upon its government. Politics and soccer do connect.

The Learning Curve

As an old Chinese proverb goes, “All things are difficult before they are easy.” Yet a lot of people expect proficiency in a new skill without putting in the required hours and hours of work. When they can’t succeed within a short amount of time, many forego their efforts and decide that it is not for them. While it is true that not everyone can be decent at everything, everyone has their own talents that they can cultivate. If everyone gave up at the first sign of failure, there would be no great people. Edison wouldn’t have his light bulb, and Michael Jordan would never have been in Space Jam. Imagine Space Jam without Jordan. You just don’t. If you take a look at all the pinnacles of human achievement, not one came without repeated and devastating failures. It is these failures that helped build the foundation for success.

“If everyone gave up at the first sign of failure, there would be no great people . . . “

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Everyone Wants to Defeat Kentucky; Actually Doing It Is Another Thing

It’s that month of the year again. March: Daylight Savings, the beginning of spring, warmer weather, and March Madness. While the NCAA Tournament is not as high profile as the NBA Finals, Super Bowl, Olympics, or the World Cup, it still attracts millions of viewers and is continuing to experience growth in that aspect. This year’s edition features an undefeated 36-0 Kentucky team (entering the Sweet Sixteen), who are making progress towards their 13th NCAA Tournament title game and 9th championship if they continue to sweep past opponents. How is Kentucky such a powerhouse? Are they en route to being the best unit in college basketball history?

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Crumbling Under Pressure

The penalty shootout is the most nerve-wracking athletic event that a person can go through. Whether you play in a Sunday League or in the World Cup, no one can deny the mental strain of taking a penalty in a best-of-5 shootout. The whole process was designed to be a pressure vacuum; both teams line up at the halfway line, and each time a kicker is up next, he has to take a long, lonely walk from the halfway line to the penalty spot while everyone is watching him. As he approaches the spot, it is just him against the goalkeeper. However, the pressure is in the fact that the kicker is expected to score. All of the pressure is on the kicker, and none is on the goalkeeper. All eyes are on the kicker as he takes his shot, and again, the pressure is enormous.

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Why are Prisoners Treated So Well?

There is a constant debate over how too much money is put into prisons to provide for the prisoners, many who have committed felonies and serious crimes. While it is morally correct to make sure they have enough to eat and have some activities, a lot of prisons now offer internet, satellite TV, and new recreational facilities, among others. In a poll, 70% believe that prisoners have too many comforts, while 30% argue the opposite. Although it is an open debate, public opinion has obviously favored the argument that prisons are now much more comfortable than they were in centuries past.

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Life as a Comedy

By far my favorite form of entertainment has to be comedy. I love to laugh at just about anything from the Simpsons or Family Guy to the Colbert Report or SNL. What has always made me wonder was how many people can get very offended over words or messages in comedy acts or shows that weren’t intended to be delivered hatefully or derogatorily. The point of a comedy is to make you laugh and relax, and, to be fair, I think most of them do that without being very offensive to anyone.

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