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    Entries in Sports (146)


    What to do when your best employee stops being coachable

    Interesting tale on coaching, power dynamics, and the implications of chasing 'top' talent above all from the world of sports (Shock!), that is going down at one of the world's most famous and influential soccer clubs, Real Madrid. 

    If you don't follow world soccer, all you really need to know is that Real Madrid consistently ranks amongst Europe's (and the world's) best club teams. They regularly compete for Spanish league and European Champion's League (a competition open to only the top club teams from across Europe), and their roster is filled with top-level talent, most of whom feature for their national sides in the World Cup and other national contests.  Simply put, Real Madrid is an elite club filled with elite players, none of whom more talented and famous than Cristiano Ronaldo, one world soccer's most talented players.

    Ronaldo has won the Ballon D'Or (award for the top soccer player in the world) three times, and has served as the captain of his Portuguese national team since 2008. In short, Ronaldo is the epitome of 'top talent' - he is a soccer player sure, but his level of success and prestige could be in any field really, for the point I am (finally) about to get to.

    Turns out that Ronaldo, as one of the best players in the world, is not all that keen on being 'coached', even when the coaching seems directly related to a recent performance issue.  From a piece posted recently on the Irish Independent on Ronaldo's reaction to a suggestion for potential performance improvement from Real Madrid's manager Rafa Benitez:

    A request from Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez  for Cristiano Ronaldo to undergo studies to improve his free-kick technique has worsened the fragile relationship between the pair according to reports in Spain. The Portuguese star is hailed as one of the finest dead ball specialists in the world, but his struggled to find the net as regularly in recent times. Ronaldo's strike against Malmo last week during the 7-0 Champions League rout of the Swedish side was his first goal from a free-kick in seven months.

    According to José Félix Díaz of (Spanish paper), El Chiringuito, Ronaldo's opinion of the under pressure Spaniard (Benitez) plummeted after attempting to improve his free-kick precision by asking the Portuguese superstar to undergo a biometric study.

    The reporter claims the Madrid star left the room when this was suggested.

    A lot to unpack here, but let's try to tease out the important points in concise fashion:

    1. Ronaldo is the best player on a very successful team

    2. Ronaldo has (or late) been struggling in one specific performance area - scoring goals from direct free kicks, something at which he in the past has been very proficient

    3. His manager, (essentially his boss for the rest of us), suggests some advanced work and analysis to get at the root of the issue, and (ideally) to generate some changes in Ronaldo's technique and preparation in hopes of improving his performance on free kicks

    4. (Allegedly), upon hearing these suggestions from his manager, Ronaldo storms out of the room, declaring the meeting is over

    Essentially, Ronaldo has ceased being coachable. His past success, stature, and position of value over replacement, (if you get rid of Ronaldo you are almost certainly not replacing him with anyone nearly as talented), have left him, at least in his view, immune to coaching or any other attempts at manager-led performance improvement. Ronaldo is Rafa Benitez' and Real Madrid's problem now, but you might one day have a similar problem with a top performer on your team. Let's admit it, after a while most of us once we hit a level of good performance are not all that excited to be told how we should be better. So what can you or any manager do when faced with this situation? 

    I can think of a couple of things, and also one important 'look in the mirror' type question as well.

    1. Play the 'example' card - By not taking direction and coaching from Benitez, Ronaldo is also sending a message to the rest of the team that it is ok around here to not be receptive to coaching. While that may not matter to a player as talented as Ronaldo, there are not many, (really hardly any), other players of his caliber around. You can try to appeal to the star's sense of example or legacy here. You can appeal to the star's ego a little bit too by playing the 'Just try this so you can show the younger/newer/less talented than you guys what THEY need to do to get better. 

    2. Be patient with failure before the 'try it this way' speech - I heard a really interesting interview with the actor Alec Baldwin recently on whether or not actor's (many of them possessing giant egos like our pal Ronaldo seems to), appreciate taking direction on their performances from movie and TV directors. Baldwin's take was that he did appreciate direction, but he liked it to come naturally or more organically. He liked the ability to try a scene three or four times for the director before the director interjects with a coaching nudge, a 'how about we try it this way?' approach to getting to the director's desired outcome. The idea is that talented people can take coaching, but they sometimes need more time and space to accept the coaching than the average performer.

    3. Ask yourself if you are 'managing' because you are the 'manager' - Big talents, big stars like Ronaldo are at times a threat to those ostensibly 'above' them in the organizational hierarchy. Ronaldo knows that Real Madrid can't easily replace his talent, but could fairly easily replace his manager Benitez with a similarly qualified manager if the need were to arise. Benitez knows this too. And often in sports, as is probably the case  in corporate life as well, a manager will feel threatened by this power imbalance, and 'invent' coaching interventions for the star talent just to attempt to assert his/her 'official' authority in the relationship. This is the 'I am the coach, and he/she needs to listen to me no matter what' kind of thinking. But if you are the manager/boss, you need to really careful if you push this too far. Talent (still) runs the world. And you will only start to seem petty and paranoid if you continually are coaching talent that has mostly figured everything out on their own.

    Most managers never have someone as great as Ronaldo to 'manage'. The interesting question in all this I think is what it really suggests about what the best managers are all about.

    Is it coaxing that last 1% of performance out of a 99th percentile talent like Ronaldo?

    Or is it helping raise the game of the vast majority of the 60th - 70th players on the team and bringing a few of them up into the 'top' performer category?

    Think about it.

    Have a great weekend!


    You can learn plenty from a simple employee tenure chart

    Count of employees by years of tenure. Quite possibly the simplest workforce metric, (can we even call it a 'metric?'. I guess), that exists. And since it is so simple, really it is just counting up the number of employees at different levels of tenure like 1 year, 2 years, more than 10 years, etc., it probably can't tell us all that much about the conditions or capabilities of a large workforce right?

    Well maybe this simple metric can tell us a little more than we think. Take a look at the data below, and before you skip ahead to the rest of the post to see where the data is drawn from, ask yourself what this simple data set might say or at least suggest about the organization in question:



    First year


    Second year


    Third year


    Fourth year


    Fifth year


    6-9 years


    10-15 years


    16-20 years


    21-27 years


    Source: (see below)


    So what can we discern from the data above, on the tenure counts of a group of employees that do pretty much the same job inside a mid-sized organization?


    Obviously there is a visible 'gap' in experience levels across this group - there is a huge cluster of the total of 121 employees in the group (about 61%) having more than 10 years experience and another smaller, but not insignificant grouping having between 1 and 2 years experience, (about 20%). But in between these clusters at the extremes of experience? Not many employees at all. In fact there are only 2 out of 121 employees having between 3 and 5 years experience on the job - often the 'sweet spot' for proficiency in many roles, but more on that in a second.


    What might we then deduce about the potential issues that might face any organization, (and again, we will get to which specific organization data set represents soon), with this kind of 'hollowed-out' tenure distribution?


    I can think of at least three things, and I promise I am not trying to allow my knowledge of who this organization is to reach these observations:


    1. Something in this organization's recruiting/onboarding/mentoring/early development for new employees is not working. To have effectively about zero staff in the 3 - 5 years of experience cohort says you either are bringing the wrong type of people into the role, or are failing to get them up to speed to the point where they are succeeding within 3 years. The chart, simple as it is, can't tell us what exactly is wrong, but that certainly something is wrong.


    2. Although this is just a tenure chart, and not an 'age' chart, it doesn't require too much of a stretch to conclude that this organization is going to face a pretty serious issue with older workers either retiring or with them simply unable to perform in the role at a high level once they hit a certain age. There are pretty significant physical and fitness requirements for this role, making it not the kind of job that most people can continue in much past say 60 or so. This lack of balance in experience with the heavy skew towards 10 and 15 year plus employees is going to present acute issues in the next 3 - 5 years (and possibly beyond).


    3. An organization with this kind of tenure distribution probably has not kept up from a talent management and recruiting perspective with the increasing demands of the role. Like most jobs, the one held by the folks in this chart has become more complex in the last few years, has more scrutiny and pressure placed upon the people in the role, and the employees have more at stake in terms of money and prestige for the organization that employs them. In a nutshell, this job, while being around for about 100 years or so, has in the last 10 or so gotten much, much harder. And the 'gap' in the talent pipeline shows us that recruiting, development, and mentoring efforts have not kept up. Entire new classes of new hires are gone inside if 5 years.


    Ok, so who is this organization/group of employees who are reflected in the above chart?


    No one but the National Football League's on-field officials - the 'Zebras' that officiate and adjudicate the action on the fields of America's most popular professional sports league, the NFL.


    And increasingly, these on-field officials are in the news for all the wrong reasons - missed calls, bad calls, failure to recognize clearly concussed and barely vertical players after they are smashed in the head, and so on. This group of employees, as a group, have been performing poorly for some time now. And the talent pipeline as we see above does not indicate that things are about to get any better anytime soon.


    The big lessons for the rest of us?


    Pay attention to tenure. Sure, it is not the only or even the most important simple metric to think about. But if it takes 3 or 4 or 5 years for someone to really become expert at the job, and you have hardly any employees in those buckets, then you are going to have organizational performance issues. You will have too many folks on the downslope of their capability and too many who have not yet figured out what the heck is going on. And not enough folks heading up towards their peak.


    You are not always recruiting, developing, mentoring, and retaining to ensure high performance this week - sometimes you are doing all of those things to ensure high performance four years from now.


    And football is still dumb.



    For your Holiday weekend viewing: The 8 Man Rotation's favorite sports movies

    We're heading into a long holiday weekend, at least in the USA, and it is quite possibly the greatest holiday of them all - Thanksgiving. Eating, drinking, sleeping, eating some more, taking in some sports on TV or in person, shopping - it is the quintessential American holiday no doubt.

    Since you will likey spend large parts of the next four or five days in turkey/stuffing/mashed potato coma, and will be for long stretches glued to your sofa and/or La-Z-Boy chairs, you need something to keep you passively entertained. But fear not gentle readers, The 8 Man Rotation crew, (Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, Matt 'akaBruno' Stollak, and yours truly), have you covered.

    Because what you really want to do this holiday weekend is catch up on some of the greatest sports movies ever made and we at The 8 Man Rotation take sports, and sports movies very seriously. So seriously that we spent a collective 17 emails and 37 minutes coming up with our favorites which we wanted to share. So fire up your Netflix and have fun with these selections this weekend:

    The 8 Man Rotation's Favorite Sports Movies.

    Tim Sackett:

    Any Given Sunday: All you have to say is “Pacino’s Speech” - maybe the best movie coach speech of all time! "The inches we need are everywhere around us.  They are in ever break of the game every minute, every second. On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us to pieces for that inch. We CLAW with our finger nails for that inch. Cause we know when we add up all those inches that's going to make the fucking difference between WINNING and LOSING, between LIVING and DYING."

    Hoosiers: Jimmy Motherf$%&!&ing Chitwood. When Coach Dale calls the play in the huddle to win the game, using Jimmy as a decoy and Jimmy says just pass the ball to me, I’ll make the shot.  Every basketball kids fantasy. Classic over-coaching as well. Just give the ball to your best player and win or lose knowing you gave it your best shot with your best talent. 

    White Man Can’t Jump: The beginning of main stream trash talking! Before this movie you only talked trash if you could back it up. After this movie, trash talking became an art form on the court and off.  The movie also addressed, and made fun, so many stereotypes as well. This wasn’t the norm in 1992, which made it somewhat shocking to watch at the time. 

    Bonus sports movie footage for the, underrated, Tom Cruise fans. Top three Tom Cruise sports movies:

    1. All The Right Moves. It was 1983 and I was in Love with Tom’s co-star in the movie, a young Lea Thompson. Coming of age football. Friday Night Lights, twenty years before it became cool.
    2. Days of Thunder. Cole Trickle might be the best Nascar name that isn’t a real Nascar name! Nicole Kidman, pre-Mrs. Cruise, as a co-star, I’m still wondering how they made him taller than her!
    3. Jerry Maguire.  The best non-sports, sport movie of all time.  NFL, Agents and the line I say to my wife almost daily, “Don’t Ever Stop F$%&$% Me” to lead the movie off!

    VIDEO - Hoosiers, 'I'll make it':

    Lance Haun:

    My two favorite sports movies, Major League and Caddyshack, are two sports I absolutely hate watching and playing. Neither are really critically acclaimed but if I see one of these come on cable, I'm watching them until the end. Caddyshack gets the nod because it's infinitely quotable, has unnecessary nudity, and includes Bill Murray and an actually funny Chevy Chase. My favorite quote that I plan to use as a father: "You'll get nothing, and like it!"

    VIDEO: Caddyshack, 'Right in the lumberyard'

    Matt 'The Professor' Stollak:

    As I said in one of the HR Happy Hour #8ManRotation shows, we blog about sports and HR because we are looking to connect with our fathers.  That same theme carries out in movies about sports:

    Field of Dreams - That movie is one long play so that Kevin Costner can have one last catch with his dad

    Breaking Away - Four townies trying to make it in Bloomington, IN and win the Little 500 bike race.  Hard to beat the exhilaration when Dave races against the semi-trucks on the highway.  But, all Dave really wants to do is be accepted by his dad, and he takes some pride when he sees his father try bike riding at the end of the film.

    VIDEO - Breaking Away trailer:

    Kris Dunn:

    He Got Game: Denzel, Spike Lee, a backdrop of hoops and Ray Allen starring as “Jesus Shuttlesworth”.  I love the story of a complicated father/son relationship as Denzel tries to parlay his way out of prison by encouraging his son (Jesus) to play at Big State U, which just happens to be the school of choice for the governor.  Great music spanning a lot of tastes from dramatic orchestra scores to Public Enemy.  Spike Lee perspective in Camera shots.  Fun fact: One of my sons got asked at church at a young age what the last name of Jesus (son of god, not Ray Allen) was.  That’s a trick question in a church setting.  My young son didn’t miss a beat – he raised his hand like Horseshack in Welcome Back Kotter and enthusiastically said, “Shuttlesworth”.  Welcome to the Dunn family, where everything has a hoops influence.

    Bull DurhamYou haven’t lived until you’ve had a son who’s played baseball and coached with another guy who knows all the lines to this movie.  The game in front of you actually becomes secondary.  You sit down next to a 10 year old in the dugout and say, “get a notepad, because it’s time to practice your cliches.”  Two minutes later, the kid is repeating the wisdom of Crash Davis - “I just hope I can help the team” and “It’s a simple game – you throw the ball, you catch the ball”.  After he has the cliches down, you bring the kid inside for senior level Crash Davis: “Anything that travels that far should have a stewardess” as an example.  Then, the fun is suddenly over when he commits two errors in the field and you resume screaming at him to "man up”.  Sports movies can only take you so far.

    Any Given Sunday:  A must for any sports fan who wants to think about talent from the lens of sports.  While I agree with Tim Sackett that the Pacino speech is classic, I’m going deep in this movie and tell you that hall of famer Jim Brown is the hidden gem.  Playing the role of Defensive Coordinator, he steals the movie from Pacino and Jamie Foxx with two scenes that are coaching classics.  The first scene involves Brown going on a sidelines diatribe towards his defense and a player encouraging him to calm down before he has a stroke, to which Brown replies, “I don’t get strokes Mother#######, I GIVE THEM”.   The second scene involves Brown addressing the team at halftime and using a chalkboard diagraming X’s and O’s, with the following gem: “Now you’re dumb enough, so we made it simple enough.  We made this #### real ####ing simple (as he pounds the chalk against the board)”.  Who among us couldn’t use that line at times in corporate America?

    VIDEO: Bull Durham, 'Cliches'

    Steve Boese:

    I am going to break this down a little differently - going with my favorite movie from each of the 'major' sports, then tossing in one more as a wild-card. Here goes:

    Basketball - Hoop Dreams. While there have been many more entertaining and funny basketballs movies made, (Fast Break, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, Semi-Pro), there has never been a basketball movie as gripping as the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams. Following the exploits of then high school stars William Gates and Arthur Agee and their struggles to escape their tough upbringing through basketball, Hoop Dreams is an essential sports drama, except it is all too real.  

    Baseball - Moneyball. Sure, by now you are sick of Moneyball. You probably have even seen the real-life protagonists of Moneyball, Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta, (the Jonah Hill character in the movie), on the HR conference speaking circuit, maybe even more than once. But that doesn't take away from the story, and just how innovative and influential that Moneyball has been not only in baseball, but in sports (and business) overall. Also, a highly re-watchable movie. If you catch this one on F/X on a random Tuesday night, you are locked in. Honorable mention to Pride of the Yankees and The Natural.

    Football - The Longest Yard, the original from 1974, not that Adam Sandler nonsense. Peak Burt Reynolds leading a team of prison inmates in a brutal game against the guards? Sign me up. Plus, great performances from Richard Kiel and NFL legend Ray Nitschke. Honorable mention to North Dallas Forty and Friday Night Lights.

    Hockey - Youngblood. Hockey is a terrible, ridiculous sport, and consequently almost every movie about hockey is also terrible and ridiculous. Youngblood is the exception to that rule. A very young Rob Lowe, the underrated Patrick Swayze playing the quintessential Patrick Swayze-type role, and 'Why didn't she become a bigger star?' Cyntiha Gibb as the love interest for Lowe's Dean Youngblood character. Will Dean learn how to survive on the ice? Will dating the coaches daughter ruin his chances to make the big time? Is that Ed Lauter in another movie? Who cares - just doze off back on the sofa, you can snooze through long stretches of this movie and not miss anything. Honorable mention to Slap Shot.

    Wild Card - Going with another documentary here, this time the 1977 bodybuilding epic Pumping Iron. Featuring Arnold before he was ARNOLD, Lou Ferrigno before he was The HULK, and a slew of other bodybuilders from the Venice, California scene in the late 70s, Pumping Iron is a fantastically entertaining film. Watching Arnold mentally toy with his chief Mr. Olympia rival Ferrigno in the run up to the competition is like watching a master of manipulation and mind games at his absolute peak. Just a great, gripping watch even if you are not a fan of bodybuilding. Looking back you can see signs in the 1977 Arnold that he had designs on much, much more than just winning bodybuilding contests.

    VIDEO: Moneyball, 'What is the problem?'

    Good stuff, right? Of course.

    Thanks to the 8 Man crew for the contributions. And please chime in in the comments with your top sports movies that we should have queued up this weekend.

    Happy Thanksgiving!



    Grantland, Simmons, and how talent (still) is hard to hold on to

    Last week media giant ESPN decided to abruptly shutter the website Grantland, the sports and pop culture site, (and which was  pretty literary for a sports and pop culture site), that had been founded and led by Bill Simmons. Simmons was let go, (or more accurately, informed his contract would not be extended), in the spring, following a series of clashes with ESPN management over Simmons' comments about the NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell.

    After a few months of muddling along, Grantland, now devoid of Simmons (and many other talented writers and editors who left Grantland after Simmons), has now been shuttered for good by ESPN, who in a statement indicated they have 'decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise.'

    Without Simmons, there really could be no Grantland, and certainly ESPN doesn't need a Grantland wihout the founder, leader, and most popular personality on board anyway. The 'core' site of ESPN.com is one of the web's most visited properties after all. Any Grantland talent that remains with ESPN can be absorbed by ESPN.com.

    But despite the demise of Grantland, it is still worth making a couple of observations about what happened with Grantland/Simmons, and how this episode in Talent Management / Employee Relations might offer a couple of lessons or things for the average HR and Talent pro to consider.

    1. No succession plan, no future

    While Grantland had dozens of staff, including some acclaimed, award-winning writers, the face, inspiration, and key to the entire endeavor was Simmons. There was simply no other, singular, talent that emerged over Grantland's four year run that could rival/replace Simmons in this role. It could be argued that once ESPN released Simmons from his duties earlier in the year, that they always knew Grantland would be closed soon after. But if they had developed or at least identified a plausible candidate to assume Simmons' place as the leader of Grantland they would have had more options. Simmons dominated Grantland to an extent that it made no sense to continue it without him, regardless of if ESPN would have like to see it continue.

    2. The best managers understand the role and importance of the best talent

    The job of leadership is to get talent to produce and create, and this does not work by threatening with rules or by levying discipline. And managing the very best talent is probably the hardest challenge for the manager, even harder than managing out poor performers. How much leeway do you give the best talent? How many rules do you allow them to dodge or break? How much freedom do you give top talent to create, unencumbered by roadblocks and rules? 

    What for organizations is next in importance after finding and hiring the best talent? Finding and hiring the right managers that can confidently, carefully, and diplomatically get the best work out of these talented folks while at the same time keep the other 95% of the workforce from hating them.

    3. The best talent, brand-building talent, is very hard to find and keep

    ESPN certainly helped build Simmons into the star media personality he has become. But ESPN also certainly had underestimated the value and power of Simmons popularity. Over the years ESPN seemed almost as interested in controlling and keeping Simmons toeing the company line as they were in supporting and positioning Grantland for success. That attitude might be effective (and needed), for the 95% of the staff who are just good to very good, but it almost never works or sits well for that 5% of employees who are really elite.

    There are very few talents like Simmons out there. And the more that management tries to tell these talented people what to do and how to act the more they are going to be alienated and look to move on.

    Talent still runs the world. Even if leaders like to think otherwise sometimes.

    Have a great weekend!


    10 reasons why you should quit the NFL for the Premier League

    I am up early on a Saturday taking in Barclays Premier League match between my beloved Liverpool Reds and Chelsea, the defending Premier League champions currently mired in a slow start to the new season. I watch a fair bit of sports on TV, (I have pretty much no life), but after many years of increasing interest and appreciation of top-level soccer, I have mostly given over my Fall and Winter weekends to the Premier League, and have pretty much lost interest in the much more popular, (here in the US anyway), American football games (both college and in the NFL).

    Why is that? Why have I basically given up on American football, with only a passing interest in the country's most popular sport? Here are 10 reasons, just off of the top of my head. And if you are saying to yourself, 'Who cares what sports Steve likes?', I would answer, 'Probably no one. But it is my blog. And I am up early on a Saturday and this is what I feel like writing about.' So there.

    Ok, here are 10 reasons why I, (and maybe you too), should quit the NFL for the Premier League:

    1. Soccer has about 3 rules you need to understand in order to appreciate the action. Sure, there are more rules than that, but the essential ones are very few, they are pretty simple, (we teach 4 year olds how to play using these rules), and you can grasp them in about the first 15 minutes of watching a game. American football, and the NFL in particular, has about 3,593 rules, many if not most of them are incredibly complex, vary in their application, and even 'experts' of the game often fail to understand them. NFL football is akin to the worst of governmental or corporate bureaucracies - hopelessly dense, complex, and often unexplainable.

    2. Because of this complexity in the rules, NFL games are interrupted dozens of times (and on EVERY punt or kickoff it seems), by penalty flags, interminable on-field conferences amongst the numerous game officials, and delays in the game for video reviews, often frame-by-frame, of controversial plays. Again, the NFL resembles the worst in big corporations in that the games are really just a few seconds of actual things happening that are interrupted by meetings of paunchy, middle-aged men discussing and attempting to explain what just happened. 

    3. Let's talk about the actual game action then. A Premier League game consists of two 45 minute halves with the clock running constantly, with a few minutes of 'extra' time usually added for injuries and other delays. Add in a 15 minute halftime break, and the normal (meaning EVERY one), Premier League game takes a bit under 2 hours to complete, start to finish. It is a perfect amount of time to dedicate to a sporting event, a movie, a dinner with your in-laws  - pretty much anything. NFL and especially college football games regularly require 3 to 3.5 hours to complete. And for the amount of actual action that occurs in a game, (see Point 4), 3.5 hours for a sporting event is just insane.

    4. It has been estimated that the average NFL game, the game that takes about 3.5 hours to complete, and has 60 minutes of official game time, actually has only between 7 - 8 minutes of action, i.e., where the players are actually PLAYING football. The rest of the time consists of players walking back to the huddle, standing in the huddle, walking back to the ball from the huddle, and waiting for the quarterback to scream a series of incomprehensible commands and making wild gesticulations. The ball is then put into play for a few seconds, (the average NFL play lasts about 7 seconds), and the entire process is repeated. Unless it is interrupted by a penalty flag and a corporate board meeting by the aforementioned old men. Football is 3.5 hours of almost nothing happening.

    5. Premier League soccer (and all soccer really), consists of 90 minutes of almost constant action. There are no 'time outs', there are fewer delays for penalties and fouls. When there is a foul the one on-field referee in charge makes the decision, and the ball is put back into play quickly. There are no meetings to talk about the fouls, there are no lengthy delays to 'check the video replay', and there are no 'coaches challenges' like in American football. Soccer realizes, correctly, that it is a GAME, and not every tiny decision needs to be examined under a electron microscope.

    6. While the rest of this post is a little cheeky, this point is pretty serious. While injuries happen in all sports, and sometimes they are serious injuries, for the most part soccer at all levels is much, much safer than football. Despite all the advances in protective equipment, the nature of football leaves almost EVERY player injured at some point. While NFL players are grown men, and are compensated well to accept these risks, the culture of American football extends much further into society, where the participants are neither grown men or compensated at all for these risks. This season alone 7 high school football players have died from direct football related injuries. Read that again. SEVEN high school kids have DIED from playing football. I find it incredible that 99.9% of American society is ok with that. 

    7. In the US, Premier League games (that last a total of 2 hours like I mentioned), are played in the morning across all US time zones. That means you can wake up early, take in a couple of matches, and still be free by Noon or so to do whatever it is you SHOULD be doing on the weekend instead of sitting on the sofa watching sports. You can get your fill of game action and still not be a jerk to your family or friends who don't care about your fantasy team and want you to be an actual contributing member of society on Saturdays and Sundays, and not some loser who is constantly checking his phone to see how many receiving yards Odell Beckham Jr. has racked up. 

    8. The match commentators for the Premier League games are exceedingly better and more entertaining than their NFL counterparts. Premier League commentators use words like 'comprehensive' and 'beguiling' and describe players with phrases like 'He is a wily campaigner'. NFL game analysts mostly like to talk about what team coaches said to them in meetings the day before the game. When NFL commentators try to move past the obvious 'The team that makes the least mistakes will win today', and get into the intricacies of the game action, 'Tampa rolled their high safety over to the weakside to guard against the naked bootleg action from Seattle', almost no one watching the game has any idea what they are talking about.

    9. And speaking of TV coverage, in the US anyone with a decent cable sports package has access to EVERY SINGLE Premier League game on LIVE. Every game is on TV. In the NFL, America's most popular sport, the only way you can get access to every game live on TV is to subscribe to the satellite TV provider DirectTV and order a premium NFL package to get access to all the games live. There are a couple of ways to get access to streams of NFL games as well. But in 2015 the fact that I as a subscriber of Time Warner Cable, one of the largest cable companies in the US, can't order up or subscribe to any NFL game that I would like to see on my TV is absolutely insane.

    10. (I promise this is the last one. If you have made it this far well, bless your heart). The pinnacle of the NFL season, the Super Bowl, is primarily enjoyed by millions not for the actual game, 'Who is playing again?', but for the TV commercials. The actual game is just a side note for the commercials, the halftime show, the endless tweets and columns about which big corporation 'won' the game by having the best TV spot, and the discussions of what kind of plausible excuse can you come up with to call in sick to work the next morning. Aside for the fans of the two teams playing, and the people who have bet on the game, no one really cares which team wins the game. Let's talk more about that Doritos spot instead.

    That is it. I am out. Thanks for indulging me. 

    And by the way, Liverpool 3 - Chelsea 1 - Full Time. Go Reds.

    Happy Halloween.