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Sports Then and Now



20 Years Ago: A Sports Day Like No Other 2

Posted on June 15, 2014 by Dean Hybl
The O.J. Simpson White Bronco chase on June 17, 1994 captivated a nation though it didn't break any speed records.

The O.J. Simpson White Bronco chase on June 17, 1994 captivated a nation though it didn’t break any speed records.

This past Thursday sports broadcasters spent a great deal of time discussing what a great sports day it was with the start of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament, World Cup Soccer Championships and the fourth game of the NBA Finals. Certainly an exciting day for sports fans and broadcasters alike, but nothing like a day whose twentieth anniversary we celebrate this week.

The primary sports elements on June 17, 1994 were basically the same as twenty years later, but the story lines in some cases were a bit more compelling. Then, of course, what makes that particular day unlike any other sports day was an un-scripted and un-expected event that transcended sports and captured the attention of the entire country.

Even though the United States wasn’t playing until the next day, June 17th was the most important day to that point in U.S. Soccer history with the opening ceremonies of the first World Cup ever held in the United States. President Bill Clinton, Diana Ross, Opera Winfrey and Daryl Hall were among those who participated in the festivities at Soldier Field in Chicago.

While many hoped the World Cup would usher a new era of interest for soccer in America, half a country away in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, the second round of the U.S. Golf Open included the end of an era for an American sports treasure.

Playing in the U.S. Open for the final time, Pennsylvania native Arnold Palmer said goodbye to the national stage on that Friday afternoon by shooting a final round 81 to finish 16 stokes over par. The 1960 U.S. Open Champion had played his first Open at Oakmont in 1953 and on that Friday afternoon 41 years later had an emotional conclusion to his magical career. Read the rest of this entry →

Hosts Tipped for World Cup Success 19

Posted on April 02, 2014 by Pete South
Called by some the next Pele, Neymar will try to make Brazil the first host to win the World Cup since 1998.

Called by some the next Pele, Neymar will try to make Brazil the first host to win the World Cup since 1998.

With just three months before the start of the tournament, many soccer fans will have one eye on this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. While there is still plenty of twists and turns before the start of the tournament in June, the betting odds are beginning to give punters an idea on who could go on to lift the famous Jules Rimet trophy in Brazil. With the world’s gaze descending on the colorful South American country, the excitement is building ahead of a World Cup that looks set to be one of the most keenly-fought tournaments in recent memory.

While Spain will head into this World Cup as the defending champions and winner of the past two European Championships, the betting odds are tipping host nation Brazil to win the tournament for a sixth time. The hosts are considered to have the best chance to win the World Cup despite not winning the tournament since 2002. With the help of the home fans and a talented squad, Brazil have been given odds as short as 3/1 with some bookmakers.

Not since 2002 have Brazil boasted a squad packed with the same sort of talent that saw them win their fifth World Cup title, led by Ronaldo’s incredible goal scoring exploits in Japan and South Korea 12 years ago. While Ronaldo now spends much of his time as a Team PokerStars SportsStar -representing the brand who also took over Full Tilt Poker to make them the biggest online poker provider- the former striker will be hoping to watch on from the sidelines as the new Brazil side look to repeat the success achieved by himself and the rest of that 2002 side. Read the rest of this entry →

The World Cup Returns to its Roots 19

Posted on October 12, 2013 by Dennis Phoenix
The first World Cup was hosted by Uruguay, who also managed to win the 13 team tournament.

The first World Cup was hosted by Uruguay, who also managed to win the 13 team tournament.

Already the qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup are underway. Around the world avid fans are cheering on their team hoping that by the end of next July their team will hoist into the air the most coveted trophy in all of sports. This competition marks the 20th World Cup with an estimated 3.3 million tickets available.

The 2014 World Cup will take place in Brazil next June and July. It will be the first time the Cup has been held in South America since Argentina hosted the competition back in 1978. Since the World Cup originated in South America, it is only fitting to discuss its humble beginnings which started with the original tournament in Uruguay in 1930.

During the 1920’s the Olympic Football Tournament met with success and became quite popular. As a result, FIFA became determined to organize a championship tournament of its own. Since Uruguay had won two Olympic Gold medals in 1924 and 1928, it was chosen as the site for the competition. Also in Uruguay’s favor was the fact that it was celebrating its 100th anniversary of independence in 1930. Read the rest of this entry →

The Story Behind Sports Most Iconic Trophies 44

Posted on August 24, 2013 by Anna McCarthy
The Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup

Every year athletes across the globe compete for iconic championships and the trophies that come with them. Here is a look at some of the best known trophies in sports.

Stanley Cup
This coveted trophy is awarded each year to the National Hockey League’s winner of the Stanley Cup Finals. It is so iconic that the men presenting the trophy wear white gloves. Unlike many trophies that are made specifically for a championship team each year, this trophy is passed onto the next winner from year to year. Named after Lord Stanley of Preston, then Governor General of Canada in 1893, the Stanley Cup has been held high above the heads of hockey champions for many generations.

The five bands forming the trophy’s base have special significance. Each player’s name for the winning team is inscribed on the lowest band. Once the band becomes full, the oldest band, located at the top of the base, is removed and placed on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

NBA Championship Trophy
Many may not know that the NBA Trophy is actually called the Larry O”Brien NBA Championship Trophy. Don’t recognize the name? Many don’t. A number of years ago, professional basketball was struggling to make a name for itself. If it weren’t for the efforts of then commissioner of basketball Larry O’Brien, the NBA may not ever have become the widely known professional sport it is today. During the mid 1970’s and into the 80’s, Larry O’Brien made a number of gutsy decisions that have ultimately led to the NBA we cherish today.

The trophy stands two feet tall and weighs in at nearly 15 pounds. It is designed to look like a basketball about to enter the net. It is made of sterling silver and overlaid with 24 carat gold. Each year the winning team receives its own trophy to permanently display. Read the rest of this entry →

Even in Defeat, U.S. Women’s Soccer Players Serve as Important Role Models 5

Posted on July 17, 2011 by Dean Hybl

The Women's Soccer World Cup final was an exciting game that made fans forget about gender, at least for the day.

Had the United States Women’s Soccer Team held on to their second half and extra period leads in the 2011 Women’s World Cup there would probably have been dozens of articles written today about how the victory would change the culture for women’s sports and soccer in the United States. Because America is a country where most people generally give their loyalty to winners, most of those same writers are likely now writing about how women’s sports in general and specifically soccer can go back to their place on the back shelf of American sports interest.

I have been a fan of soccer since watching Pele and the New York Cosmos and then playing the sport as a youngster on some of the first youth soccer teams in my area in the late 1970s. However, even if the American women had won, one tournament wasn’t going to change the fact that soccer is a sport that Americans care about much like they do the primary Olympic sports. When national pride is on the line we care, but the rest of the time we don’t really care and never will.

I’m willing to bet if you walked the streets of just about any city or town in America and asked 50 people to name even one team from the MLS, most would look at you funny and ask “what is an MLS?” If you dared ask them about the WPS they would probably report you to the cops.

But while the result of the Women’s World Cup final may not have changed that fact, just the interest given to the game by the mainstream media does have an impact in another important way.

My seven-year-old daughter likes art, music and reading. There is absolutely no chance that she will be a professional athlete and though sports are on the television at our house almost continuously, she rarely has even the slightest interest.

However, twice in the last few months I have seen a spark in her eye about commercials for sporting events. The first was in early April when the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Final Four was being promoted. The second was this week in preparation for the Women’s World Cup final.

She sat and watched much of the women’s basketball Final Four with me and today though we were out and about during most of the game she navigated to the television when possible to see how the game was going and was genuinely interested when I would give reports while following the game on my phone.

I asked her this afternoon why she was interested in those games and she said it was because it isn’t that often that women’s sports are on television and she likes watching them.

Read the rest of this entry →

USA Women’s Soccer Team Pulls Off a Miracle 8

Posted on July 10, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Abby Wambach's improbable goal in the final seconds set up the USA for victory over Brazil.

On the 12th anniversary of the biggest victory in United States women’s soccer history, the USA women’s squad pulled off a miracle that may eventually prove to be just as significant as their 1999 World Cup win over China.

For most of their quarterfinal matchup against Brazil it looked like another nail was being put in the coffin of soccer in the United States.

After the U.S. men’s team was the victim of awful officiating during the 2010 World Cup and FIFA by-passed the U.S. for hosting a future World Cup, the way it appeared the U.S. women were going to lose to Brazil would serve as another blow against keeping the casual fan interested in soccer.

The U.S. scored early following a defensive miscue by Brazil and maintained that lead midway through the second half.

Then as Brazil superstar Marta and American Rachel Buehler raced with their arms seemingly connected into the box, Marta fell to the ground and earned a penalty kick. While it wasn’t shocking that a penalty was called, it was a bit surprising that Buehler was given a red card considering that both players were going for the ball and there didn’t appear to be any malicious intent.

But if that wasn’t bad enough, what transpired next was even more frustrating for fans of the USA. Read the rest of this entry →

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