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Soccer has become increasingly more popular in the United States in the last 30 years, with nearly 3 million children between the ages of 5-19 now playing in youth soccer leagues throughout the nation.

Soccer began in England in the mid-1800’s, and was originally played by the higher, more aristocratic English classes in their boarding schools and private clubs. The ease and inexpense of the sport quickly moved it ahead as a sport for the masses however. Today soccer is ranked as one of the world’s leading sports for commoners.

The London Football Association was founded and 1863 and is responsible for standardizing game rules throughout Europe. In less than 20 years, professional players and teams were hitting the field.

Soccer began to spread throughout Europe almost immediately, with Spain, Germany, Italy, and France all taking up the game b the early 20th century. As interest in the sport grew throughout the world, so did an interest in formal competition. In 1900, the first soccer game was played at the Olympics, with medals introduced just eight years later. Professional players, however, were exempt from competition in the Olympic Games for more than 80 years.

In 1904, The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), was formed, followed by the first World Cup international competition in 1930. A round-robin style tournament that pits teams from individual nations against each other every four years, the World Cup has grown into an international affair, with nearly 200 teams now seeking admittance. Only 24 are permitted to compete.

Although it took the United States years to enter the soccer arena on a widespread basis, the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) was formed in 1913. Unfortunately, most Americans preferred watching (and playing) a different form of the sport — American football — until a Brazilian named Pele, (considered to the greatest soccer player of all time), joined the N.Y. Cosmos team in 1975. With such an amazing player to watch in America, popularity of the sport grew throughout the states, until his retirement in 1977, when soccer once again took a backseat to football. Following Pele’s retirement, the North American Soccer League slowly lost fan support, finally dissolving in 1985.

It wasn’t until the men’s World Cup competition, was held in the United States in 1994, that soccer interest was renewed among American youth. The Major League Soccer (MLS), was founded in 1993, and began its first season in 1996 with 10 teams and 32 regular season games. More than 3 million fans watched the playoffs that year. By 1991, women were finally allowed to play on a professional level, when the Women’s World Cup competition was introduced for the first time.

The interest in youth soccer remains strong throughout the United States today. Sports teams and leagues are now available in nearly every American community. From pee-wee players who aren’t even in school yet, to semi-professional high school teams, players of all interest and abilities are now hitting the soccer field for both spring and fall competition. The U.S. Youth Soccer, a division of the USSF, now includes nearly 3 million official players.

Have you ever thought about how difficult it is to play soccer? People think that it is a simple sport in which to be a good player all you need to do is run around the field and kick the ball. Soccer is a much more complex game. It is a sport that requires lots of practice in order to be a good player. Soccer takes time, dedication and responsibility. There are many players considered to be “born with the talent to play”, like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, those players, like many others conquered all what they have today by being extremely dedicated to the sport and by always training hard.

Soccer is a game that involves lots of skill. Not just footwork or ball control, but also being mentally prepared and willing to do your best. Some of those skills include:

• Rules – understanding the rules of the game is the most important thing before playing it. The knowledge of what is right or wrong is the key to the success in soccer. It is a game where details matter a lot.

• Ball control – first thing to be noticed is if you are good in controlling the ball. Even though a player has a great skill in dealing with the ball, practice is always needed to maintain and improve them. If a player lacks from those skills, then definitely practice is much more required with much harder work. The manipulation of the ball is a hard skill and is not fast to learn, it takes a long time to improve soccer skills. Ball control does not mean just using your legs, it involves the whole body. A player must be able to head the ball, and use the whole body, except hands, which can only be used by the keeper.

• Fitness – Soccer is a sport that requires much more running than other sports. It is important to be in a good shape to be a soccer player. All the running that you do during the game is exhaustive. In order to keep a great endurance and to perform their best throughout the whole game players must be in great shape. Nowadays, fitness is becoming more important than never to be a soccer player. For instance, a professional player runs about seven miles a game.

• Formation and Positioning- Formation varies a lot between teams and coaches. It consists on the way a determined team plays the game. There are lots of different types of formation. Normally, coaches choose the ones that they consider to be the best fit for their team based on which players they have. A good player should be able to play in any kind of formation. Thus, it is important to be knowledgeable about every formation, what is the role in the game and where to be positioned in the field. Positioning is crucial for the formation. Players must know where to be positioned according to the team’s formation. If a player fails to be in his/her correct position, the whole game can be negatively impacted.

Those are a few of the most important skills that a good soccer player is required to know. Soccer is a complex game, but once learned it is not impossible to become a high-level/professional player. However, it does not only depend on the overall understanding of the game, but also on the player’s effort. Soccer practices are never enough, so put your cleats on, get a ball, and get into the field!

I’m not saying that one is better than the other, just that there is an important difference.

What is the difference between the two?

Well, it’s in the words. A fan likes something, a supporter actively supports it. A regular fan wouldn’t drive 5 hours to support the FC Bayern Amateure in the cold March rain.

What do Supporters do differently?

Passion. Dedication. Loyalty.

Take a club like Bayern Munich for example. We have by far the most fans in Germany, but only a small group of true Supporters. The fans buy lots of merchandise and visit the home matches, and usually refer to the team, not the club. The fan idolizes players, but often knows little about the club’s history. When a club doesn’t do well, more and more seats will be empty, whereas the section of the Supporters is as full as ever.

The Mindest

A Supporter loves the club, not the team and its players. Those are mercenaries who do not identify with the club and will transfer as soon as more money is offered.

To a Supporter, it’s all about the club, not the team.

A fan sees this as a hobby or casual entertainment. But Supporters take it seriously. No matter where or when the club plays, or how important the match is, the Supporter is there. A lot of times this means sacrificing other aspects of his life – work, school, family, friends. That’s because words like loyalty and honor still have meaning. A Supporter will defend the club’s name if necessary, without getting it into trouble.
To the Supporter the club is a lifestyle.

The Supporter supports the team throughout the entire match, regardless of the score or the performance. Because the team needs the support the most when things are not going well. That is not to say that displeasure can’t be voiced. But the support of the team always comes first.

Simply singing or shouting is not enough. Every word uttered and every song sung has to be filled with all of the Supporter’s energy and passion. Even if the players on the field don’t care, it is done for the club’s honor and for all of the Supporter’s honor.

Sing until your lungs burn and you are ready to puke.

Supporters looks at everything the club does objectively and is not afraid to be critical. It is up them to protect the club’s values and integrity and to carry them on with their actions.

Should a decision of the club clashes with the Supporter’s believes, but benefits the club in the long run, the Supporter has to put his own interest aside.

Everything the Supporter does has to be in the club’s best interest.

All of these traits are vital. I have known people who went to every FC Bayern match, but didn’t support. There were those who sang passionately, but only cherry-picked a few matches a year. Not to mention the ones that were too drunk to even make it into the stadium, or those who only want to fight.

Unfortunately there seems to be a war going on against the Supporters/Ultras across Germany. The clubs want to replace us with customers who will shell out money without asking questions or criticizing. The clubs’ identities are slowly taken away. But this is for another article.

"This week a 100-year-old Tennessee man got married for the third time; this time to a 68-year-old woman. would love a sandwich. '"
– Amy Poehler, of Weekend Update, on Saturday Night Live

"I really believe in infrastructure spending … I amortize my shoes over 20 years."
– Canada's BC Provincial Finance Minister Carole Taylor explaining why she wore $ 600 new Gucci shoes when introducing the annual budget.

"We wanted to keep him off the bases."
– manager Charlie Manuel (Phillies) explains Jose Reyes' (Mets) three home runs in one game.

Q: "You're the player. We like to hear it from the horse's mouth." A: (Roddick): "Go buy a horse."

"Well, I really think he shatters the myth of white supremacy once and for all!"
– Rep. Charlie Rangel, after being asked his opinion of President George W. Bush

"I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level."
– Bode Miller, the US Olympic skier who went zero for five on Olympic gold.

"Should I go and get a ruler?"
– LOST ''s Kate [Evangeline Lilly], editorizes about a testosterone contest between Jack [Matthew Fox] and Sawyer [Josh Holloway].

"My No. 1 goal is to not go to jail."
– Congresswoman-elect Michele Bachmann (R, MN)

"If you are not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin."
– Representative Katherine Harris (R, FL)

"Paddy was in the wrong place at the wrong time;
– Neil Warnock discusses (Sheffield United goalkeeper) Paddy Kenny's biting loss of one eyebrow in a restaurant.

"I have noticed a marked difference in the way that people respond to me when I am wearing my colors."
– testimony of Hells Angels member Ricky Ciarniello in a legan action against an Ontario, Canada court decision that the Angels institute a criminal organization, saying this unexpectedly exposing him to fear, loathing and ridicule. The ruling stood. (The original Canadian spelling of "colors" here is not a mistake – or at least, a very old one by now.)

"Drowning has always been my biggest fear."
– Janina Peters, lifeguard.

"Russian women are not very good for figure skating. They are good for building rail tracks in Siberia, for example."
– Alexei Mishin, champion Evgeni Plushenko's coach.

"I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today he would be doing the same thing."
– Madonna justifies including mock crucifixion in her stage performances.

"Cheney's defense is that he was aiming at a quail when he shot the guy: which means that Cheney now has the worst aim of anyone in the White House since Bill Clinton."
– Jay Leno

Tennis star Roddick about playing the retiring Agassi: Q: "Do you feel relief that [it] is not going to happen?" A: (Roddick): "Obviously you want to play against your idols, but then again you do not want to be the guy who shot Bambi."

"A big-city feel, but redneck-friendly."
– tourism slogan suggested by President Tim Newman of the Regional Visitors Authority of Charlotte, NC, US

"He scares our German shepherd to death when we are at home; so we come here."
– Sue Mihalyi, explaining why she and her husband Mark watch Steeler games at a local Pittsburgh restaurant. The Steelers won the Superbowl in 2006 without her rug suffering.

"Your child, at birth, already has a deeply complicated relationship with his mother, so for the first year you are only a curiosity. As the years go by you will become an amusement-park ride." Then, a referendum. And finally, a bank. "
– Things a Man Should Know About Fatherhood, Esquire magazine

"[African-American Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele has made] a career of slavishly supporting the Republican Party."
– Steny Hoyer, (D, MD)

"Keep away from the Australian women or else you will end up in prisons."
– advice to his athletes from the Ugandan sports director

"She's pretty aggressive in our cars. Especially if you catch her at the right time of the month; she might be trading plenty of paint out there."
– Ed Carpenter, IRL racing driver describes Danica Patrick.

"I'm glad he's showing some personality."

– Danica Patrick about Ed Carpenter, later that same day.

Madonna about her rep for being difficult: "What's the difference between a pop star and a terrorist? You can negotiate with a terrorist."

"I told the producers I'd give my left nut to host this thing."
– Lance Armstrong, opening the 2006 ESPY Awards

"Activities which are not compatible with western standards."
– ABC news being politically correct while describing Hamas suicide bombings.

"He a very wise man and very strong – despite perhaps not so strong as his father Barbara."
– Borat describes the President

"I do not support our troops …. When you volunteer for the US military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada."
– Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times columnist

"I said a little prayer before I actually did the fingerprint thing, and the picture; and my prayer was basically, 'Let people see Christ through me, and let me smile.'"
– (Former Republican House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay gets his mug shot.

"Something else I've learned about Secretary Rice is she loves the cool Atlantic breezes here in Nova Scotia, and she left the window open last night."
– Canada's Conservative Foreign Minister Peter MacKay, amidst rumors that the two had a little something goin 'on.

"When you're inviting people, you do not have to tell them this is a cold place."
– Canada's BC Premier Gordon Campbell, trying to tone down 2010 Olympic promotions.

"Of course, some of it could be cops just watching the game and not responding."
– Geoffrey Alpert, University of South Carolina criminologist, about (his) research showing a decline in crimes during the Super Bowl.

"We ship to all correctional institutions."
– A US bookstore sign, in the age of the Internet.

"The public does not have a right to know anything."
– RCMP spokesperson Staff Sargent John Ward responds to reporters' queries about Ian Bush's death in custody.

Q: "How different was it holding up that plate today than in Australia?" "It's a different trophy.

"Thanks to all the perverts who voted for me."
– Jessica Alba, accepting MTV's award for the Sexiest Performance in a Movie (Sin City.)

"For some people, playing a bipolar nymphomaniac may have been a challenge, but for me, I think I just played myself."
– Isla Fisher, accepting MTV's award for the year's Breakthrough Performance (Wedding Crashers.)

"The publication of these cartoons will cause the world to tremble. Fire will be through the world if they do not stop."
– English Islamic leader Dr Azam Tamimi

"1f u c4n r34d th1s u r34lly n33d t0 g37 l41d!"
– tee shirt

"I think a relationship with a partner is intensely personal and I prefer to keep it that way."
– Paul McCartney (early in the divorce.)

"We've gone through more hardships than the Jews and Charlie Brown put together."
– Homer to Marge, re marriage counseling, on The Simpsons

"To the vice president's credit, he did own up to it: on FOX News he said the fault was his; he can not blame anyone else. holding a smoking gun. "
– Bill Maher

"Any important Republican who comes out and says they did not know me is almost certainly lying."
– convoked lobbyist Jack Abramoff

"It's hard to forget the day you give up your Independence."
– Greg Zamlule, a US citizen, explains why he chose to get married on July 4, the same day he entered a 5k race.
"There's always the chance that he'll just keep on running."
– his fiance, Leslie Evans.

"We want to make it clear that if the Pope does not appear on TV and apologize for his comments we will blow up all of Gaza's churches."
– a reply from the Sword of Islam terrorists, harassed by the Pope's speech which appeared to associate Islam and violence centuries ago.

"You can always get new teeth."
– Teemu Selanne, a Finnish hockey player who sacrificed three whites during a quarterfinal with the US.

"McDreamy is doing the McNasty with McHottie? That McBastard!"
– George on Gray's Anatomy

"It's just basketball. They're not the Big Bad Wolf and we're not the Three Little Pigs. We're all grown men."
– Cavaliers forward LeBron James, re Detroit

"Here we have an organization supposedly dedicated to preventing cruelty actually inflating cruelty to an animal to raise money to supposedly prevent cruelty to animals."
– Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Society on the Prince Rupert, BC, Canada's SPCA's plan to host a crab boil as a fund-raiser for the animal Shelter.

"In the West Bank a group calling itself the Lions of Monotheism firebombed four churches, telling the Associated Press, 'The attacks … were carried out to protest the Pope's remarks linking Islam and violence.' The irony – and this is often the case, we find – was completely lost on them. "
– The Daily Show's Jon Stewart

"Yeah, he looked sorry when he was out there doing donuts."
– Matt Kenseth Declines an apology from Jeff Gordon, who bumped Kenseth out of the way on the Chicagoland Speedway.

"Years ago, you used to get out and fight and run around and chase each other with a jackhammer and stuff like that. Those were the good old days."
– Dale Earnhardt Jr., on track etiquette in the days before NASCAR's sponsors began to fuss about driver conduct.

"You'd like it." Puppies get killed. "
– The LOST character Sawyer [Josh Holloway] summarizes "Of Mice and Men" for Henry Gale [Michael Emerson] (a killer-of-bunnies.)

"After 45 years of this crap I've just started to enjoy it."
– Pete Townshend, the WHO summarizes a career.

"Football's a difficult business; and are not they prima donnas?"
– Queen Elizabeth II

And that's the FunnyPoetry.com funny quote summary for 2006 – the year that Britain finally paid back the last of the money it borrowed from the US and Canada during WW II, according to CNN. And why did that take so long? The interest rate was 2%, that's why. (By the way, Britain's WW I debts were never fully repaid.) On to 2007, which looks ripe to produce many more fine quotes: if for no other reason than 25% of Americans expect the return of Jesus in the coming year according to an Associated Press-AOL News poll.

With the baseball season in full swing, it’s time to remember how geeks and technology have transformed the game of baseball. Over the past three decades, the internet, medical advances, and the globalization media have fundamentally transformed how fans consume baseball and how ballplayers play America’s pastime. Below is a survey of some of the ways technology has effected baseball, and some ideas on how some new technologies will continue to affect baseball.

Baseball, Technology, and Fans

1. Video Games

From the beginning, video games have attempted to replicate baseball. In 1971, Don Daglow at Pomona College wrote ”Baseball.” During the early 1980s, Atari and Mattel also released baseball video games. In 1983, Mattel released Intellivision ”World Series Baseball.” For the first time, players of ”World Series Baseball” could use multiple camera angles to show the action. A gamer could see the batter from a modified “center field” camera, see baserunners in corner insets, and view defensive plays from a camera behind home plate. ”World Series Baseball” also integrated fly balls into their interface.

In 1988, baseball video games made another jump, when Electronic Arts (EA) released ”Earl Weaver Baseball”, which added an actual baseball manager provided run by artificial intelligence. The important of ”Earl Weaver Baseball” was acknowledged by Computer Gaming World in 1996 when it named ”Earl Weaver Baseball” 25th on its list of the Best 150 Games of All Time. This was the second highest ranking for any sports game in that 1981-1996 period behind FPS Sports Football.

Nintendo also hit a homerun, in 1988 when it released ”RBI Baseball.” RBI was the first video game to be licensed through the Major League Baseball Players Association. The game contained authentic major league players and rosters, and not surprisingly was a huge hit with players.

Twenty years after the first baseball video game, ”Tony La Russa Baseball” appeared on shelves across the country. The game made significant advancements in baseball game play. First, ”La Russa” included a circular Fly Ball Cursor that appeared where the ball was going to land, and grew or diminished in size based on the height of the ball. If the wind was blowing the cursor would move its location to reflect the changing course of the ball. The Fly Ball Cursor introduced real fly balls and pop-ups to computer baseball games, eliminating the last segment of the sport that had never been simulated accurately. Second, ”La Russa” allowed users to conduct drafts and set up their own leagues, all with access to the game’s comprehensive player statistics. Third, ”La Russa” was the first baseball game to offer accurate stats for each individual pitcher against each individual hitter, data that actual managers use extensively in the dugout. In contrast to many sports celebrities who merely lent their names to games, Tony La Russa spent extensive sessions over a period of years working to make the game’s artificial intelligence as accurate as possible.

The quality of baseball games has continued to develop since ”La Russa.” The development of EA’s ”MVP Baseball”, Sony’s ”MLB The Show”, Out of the Park Developments’ text-based simulation ”Out of the Park Baseball”, and the and growth of gaming systems (from Genesis to XBox360) has transformed the depth and reality of baseball games. Even players themselves admit to using them prepare for games. According to an FHM article written by 2004 AL Cy Young Winner Johan Santana (April 2006 pg. 113), “I can see the hitting zones of each player and statistically where he doesn’t like the ball. I can also get a feel for when he will swing at fastballs and when he may not expect a change-up. I wouldn’t say that I would pitch to a guy in a real-life game the same way, but it gives you ideas of how to approach certain hitters.”

2. Internet Fantasy Baseball

Hate it (girlfriends, wives) or love it (practically every baseball fan), fantasy baseball has become as popular as the sport itself. Once regulated to stat junkies who painfully calculated and managed everything on their own, the expansion of the internet has allowed millions of fans to participate in leagues with friends and other fans throughout the country. This couldn’t possibly affect the actual sport itself right? Wrong. Fantasy Baseball has a huge impact on fan interest. Did your team throw in the towel mid-season, or currently in an unwatchable rebuilding year? That’s OK. You can still follow your fantasy team and can continue to watch games involving your players via the MLB Baseball Cable Package. Major League Baseball is a product, and anything that allows your customers to constantly read, write, and talk (thus promoting) about your product in a passionate way becomes important.

Fantasy baseball would not have becomes popular without technology. Computers and the internet ushered in this sports revolution. The advent of powerful computers and the Internet revolutionized fantasy baseball, allowing scoring to be done entirely by computer, and allowing leagues to develop their own scoring system, often based on less popular statistics. In this way, fantasy baseball has become a sort of in-time simulation of baseball, and allowed many fans to develop a more sophisticated understanding of how the real-world game works.

According to a recent Fortune article, the “American male’s obsession with sports is nothing new, but try this on for size: More than half of fantasy sports fanatics spend over an hour a day just thinking about their teams.” Fantasy baseball is a ”billion dollar industry.” However, Much like the RIAA and MPAA, Major League Baseball is putting clamps on the fantasy technology that fueled professional baseball’s rebirth after the 1996 strike. MLB has decided to dramatically restructure how it licenses companies that run fantasy games on the Web. Official licensees will now likely be restricted to a Big Three of ESPN, CBS Sportsline, and Yahoo! (some reports add AOL and The Sporting News as well). “Mom and pop” shops that helped usher the fantasy baseball phenomenon into existence will be severely limited by the licensing deal. They will only be allowed information to service 5,000 customers apiece. Everyone else using baseball statistics to run small fantasy leagues will have to choose between scaling back their operations, closing up shop, or receiving a visit from MLB’s lawyers.

3. User Created Media

Before the internet, media creation was limited to professionals. Newspapers, radio, television, and niche sports magazines like Sports Illustrated possessed a virtual stranglehold over the dissemination of sports news and information.

The first user created sports media occurred with the advent of Sports Talk radio. An extension of talk radio, which has existed since the 1940s, sports talk radio took off in the early 1980s. Today, over 30 major sports talk radio stations exist throughout the country. Sports talk radio provided fans a soapbox to voice their complaints, thoughts, and analysis of sports. However, instead of ranting only to their friends and family, sports talk radio gave fans the ability to transmit their ideas to a potentially large audience.

Wanting a voice, sports fans used technology to disseminate their ideas over the internet. The first of these technologies was sports messageboard communities. While sports messageboards have never reached mainstream popularity, they have a solid presence on the net. A quick search for “baseball messageboards” in Google will return over 8.5 million hits.

Internet messageboards also represented the first Petri dish for user-created media. This sentiment is best exemplified by a scandal that occurred at the beginning of the 2000 season. Bobby Valentine, then the New York Mets manager, gave a lecture at the Wharton School of Business — an “off-the-record” talk. But “off-the-record” is only a term relevant to journalists. While the ”Daily Pennsylvanian” (Penn’s school newspaper), gave a perfunctory mention to the speech, one student-attendee went much further. Brad Rosenberg, using the username brad34, logged onto a Mets message board and claimed that Bobby V blasted some players and management. The mainstream media ran with it; then-general manager Steve Phillips hopped on a plane to Pittsburgh to pow-wow with Valentine; and minor scandal was in the works.

Today, the phenomenon that started on message boards has extended to blogs. Over the past two years, blogs have exploded. Everyone (from grandmas to infants) are starting their own blogs, and not surprisingly a number of these blogs talk about sports. Blogs provide individuals with the community of a sports talk radio and potentially infinite world-wide reach. A powerful combination. Today, there are approximately, http://sportsblogs.org/sports.php?subject=Blogs, 1158 baseball blogs floating around the internet.

4. Satellite Television

Satellites beam baseball games around the world, fueling global baseball. While the first satellite television signals were relayed in the early 1960s, widespread consumer television reception took off in the 1980s. For the first time, geography did not limit the dissemination of moving pictures. Television’s power with no geographic limits translated into new opportunities for major league baseball.

By the late 1990s, baseball games could be seamlessly and relatively inexpensively transmitted throughout the globe. This allowed Major League Baseball to reach into foreign labor and commercial markets, most notably Japan. Without satellite television, the Seattle Mariners probably would have passed on MVP outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, the New York Yankees would have passed on All-Star Hideki Matsui. Satellite television helped transform regional icons like Ichiro and Matsui into worldwide phenomenon.

Today, if you take a trip to Japan, you might see Hideki Matsui’s at-bat broadcasted in a a Tokyo bar, subway station, or even on the side of a building. Satellite Television helps baseball remain on the march.

Baseball, Technology, and Players

5. Improved Surgeries

Before 1974, if you were a pitcher and happen to tear your unlar collaterl ligament in the ‘ol elbow, you would be trading in your hat and spikes for a suit and tie. Dr. Frank Jobe changed the fortunes of hundreds of future professional pitchers when LA Dodgers pitcher Tommy John asked him to “make up something” after he was diagnosed with the career-threatening injury. The procedure, now famously called “Tommy John Surgery” , consists of having the ligament in the elbow replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body (often from the forearm, hamstring, or foot). Today, retirement is not the only ending, as success rate for this type of surgery is estimated at 85% – 90%. Recovery time is down to about a year for pitchers, and a half a year for hitters. In fact, pitchers often come back throwing a few

extra MPH on the fastball. Just think, without this procedure, Mariano Rivera, star closer for the New York Yankees, would not have been able to nail down all of those post-season victories and 4 recent World Series titles! Yankee fans

everywhere owe you a big thank you Dr. Frank Jobe.

6. Eye Enhancemants

Many professional athletes have gone through a well known laser eye surgery called LASIK. LASIK, an acronym for Laser-assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is a form of refractive laser eye surgery procedure performed by ophthalmologists intended for correcting vision. Since baseball players rely heavily on their sight to pick up a 95 MPH fastball whizzing past their noggin, it makes sense that LASIK has been so important. Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Cirillo, Jeff Conine, Jose Cruz Jr., Wally Joyner, Greg Maddux, Mark Redman, and Larry Walker have all reportedly upgraded their vision to 20/15 or better. The popularly of LASIK surgery has led the Minnesota Twins’ medical staff to diligently educate its players about the benefits and risks of LASIK surgery.

Similarily, a contact lens designed by Bausch and Lomb and marketed by Nike has been made to aid hitters. The lenses are red and filter out certain shades to allow you to see the seams on a fastball. The quicker the batter can follow the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand, the quicker they can react to it. Is this any different than steroids?

7. QUESTEC

QuesTec is a digital media company known mostly for its controversial Umpire Information System (UIS) which is used by Major League Baseball for the purpose of providing feedback and evaluation of big league umpires. The company, based out of Deer Park, New York, has been mostly involved in television replay and graphics throughout its history. In 2001, however, the company signed a 5-year contract with Major League Baseball to use its “pitch tracking” technology as a means to review the performance of home plate umpires during baseball games.

The UIS system consists of 4 cameras placed at strategic locations around a ballpark that feed into a computer network and records the locations of pitches throughout the course of a game. Computer software then generates CDs that umpires and their higher-ups can review and learn from. These CDs include video of the pitches as well as graphic representations of their locations plus feedback on the umpires’ accuracy.

Controversy over the Umpire Information System surfaced over the next several years as umpires and players alike voiced concern over the system’s accuracy on one side, and the partial and potentially biased coverage of major league games on the other. The company installed its cameras and computers in only 10 of the 30 stadiums around the league. Umpires filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to get rid of the technology; meanwhile a more hands-on approach was taken by Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling. Schilling used a bat to smash one of QuesTec’s field cameras, an act that led to a fine for the former World Series MVP.

8. Stat Analysis

Over the past few years, several teams throughout Major League Baseball have changed their approach to running their organization. Traditionally, players are evaluated by scouts using stats that have been around for centuries, such as Runs Batted In, Batting Average, and just how fast a pitcher can throw. The “Moneyball” school of thought (named after a book by Michael M. Lewis released in 2003 about the general manager of the Major League Baseball team Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane) believe this method to be subjective and flawed. Now, General Managers will evaluate their players directly from their laptops, that crunch all sorts of numbers that are centered around the ability to not record an out (hey, that is the general basis of the game, innit?). So who can draft a better ballteam, a Windows XP machine (with service pack 2 of course – without it will draft all Minnie Mendoza’s) or a scout that has seen millions of innings of baseball over the last 30+ years?

9. Steroids

We can’t have a baseball article without mentioning the S-Word now can we? Steroids are an invention of modern medicine. German scientists first developed anabolic steroids in the 1940s, learning to produce testosterone in a laboratory setting.

Now, two San Francisco Chronicle reporters have written a book detailing Barry Bonds’ steroid use, called ”Game of Shadows”, which goes into a lot of detail behind everything Bonds did to chemically enhance his body. Bonds allegedly used every conceivable method of steroid use, including pills, liquid, creams, and injections (by himself and trainer). His methods obviously worked (though there was no testing to get around), because Bonds (now 41 years old) bulked up tremendously over the past 8 years and starting hitting homers at record paces.

The more that comes out about these players, the more 1995-2004 will be forever known as the “steroid era.” We might never know exactly who took steroids during this time, but everyone will definitely treat the stats over the last decade with skepticism. Now that MLB has finally started testing the players, will certain players desperate for that extra edge try new technologies that can’t be detected? Its ironic though. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa practically saved the sport after the 1994 strike by captivating the fans with their 1998 chase for Roger Maris’ home run record of 61. Now, after numerous congress hearings and a lot of “no comments,” their reputations are completely tarnished due to alleged steroid use. Yet they may have saved baseball.

Future of Baseball and Technology

10. User Controlled Broadcast

Just this week, Rupert Murdoch, speaking to the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, said: “A new generation of media consumers has risen demanding content delivered when they want it, how they want it and very much as they want it.” What does this mean for baseball?

Baseball on demand will continue to develop. Wait, one minute! Can’t I already get baseball on demand? I can buy the MLB Package on cable tv or can stream every game with MLB.TV. True, but we’re talking about the future here, and the scope of on-demand sports will only broaden over the next couple of decades.

Don’t be surprised if Major League Baseball takes a cue from video games and starts to give consumers control over how they watch a baseball game. Imagine the following: you turn on a ballgame and with your remote control you are given the option of choosing the camera angle you want to view the game. You want to watch the game from the catchers perspective, click your remote and you can what a big league slider looks look. Want to watch a play from an outfielder’s perspective? Its your choice, you control how you want to view the game.

Fans will also be given the opportunity to choose an announcer. Think Joe Morgan should be fired? Why be forced to listen to his broadcast? Instead, fans will be given a choice between a wide range of announcers. Want funny announcers? Click. Want home-town announcers? Want to hear the game in Russian? Click. Its your call.

Don’t be surprised if many of these announcers aren’t hired by a professional sports teams. Instead, these announcers might be your neighbor, your friend, or even your grandma. The continued growth of podcasting and the inevitable maturation of podcasting distribution channels will make it easy for anyone to try their luck out as a professional broadcaster.

11. Information Markets to Predict Gameplay

Information markets aggregate information in an attempt and appear to be the best tool human’s have to predict future events. Building on the ideas of Friedrich Hayek, various different professions and organizations have begun using information markets to help them make better decisions. For example, the Iowa Electronic Markets, TradeSports, and WahlStreet have predict election outcomes better than opinion polls. Google also uses information markets forecast product launch dates, new office openings, and many other things of strategic importance to Google.

How does an information market work? Information markets aggregate the decisions of individuals and translate those decisions into a consensus probability that a given future event will occur. For example, at Google, the company issues stocks for 146 events in 43 different subject areas (no payment is required to play). Much like a stock market, Google employees buy and sell these shares reaching a market price–the consensus decision. Google looks at these market prices when deciding whether to make an important decision.

The same tool that has helped transform Google to one of the most powerful companies in the world will eventually be employed by professional baseball teams to make important baseball decisions. Baseball teams will use these markets to decide when to promote their a prospect from AAA to the majors, whether or not they should trade their aging star for a young prospect.

Just as baseball statistics transformed the operation of baseball teams in the 1990s and 2000s, information markets will transform the way baseball organizations operate in the future.

James “JT” Thomas, former linebacker of the West Virginia Mountaineers, will be inducted into the Minor League Football News Hall of Fame on Thursday, December 6, 2007 at the Oasis Resort Hotel & Casino in Mesquite, Nevada.

Thomas’ nomination was reviewed by the MLFN’s Board of Directors, and he received notification of his acceptance on July 30.

“It is truly an honor to be receiving this award,” said Thomas. “I owe a big thank you to everyone for supporting me through the years.”

Thomas has used strong leadership skills, tireless work ethic, and passion for the game to become a driving force in the development and promotion of minor league and semi-professional football across the Midwest.

The story of JT Thomas’ football career can be broken into three distinct chapters: player, coach, and executive. Thomas’ collegiate career started at Fort Scott Community College (Kansas) in 1992. Following his sophomore season, Thomas transferred to West Virginia University (WVU).

In two seasons at Fort Scott – both as team captain – Thomas earned two All-Kansas Jayhawk Conference honors at outside linebacker and Defensive Player of the Game in 1992’s Valley of the Sun Bowl. At inside linebacker for WVU, Thomas received two Mountaineer Club Awards for on-field excellence, earned two All-Big East team honors, and won Defensive Player of the Game in the 1994 CarQuest Bowl. He also led both teams in tackles each season.

A successful college career led Thomas to the semi-pro football circuit in 1996 with the Charleston Rockets, where he was able to play with former WVU great Major Harris. Returning to outside linebacker, Thomas led the team in tackles and became a league All-Star as the Rockets finished their 11-game regular season 10-1. Thomas attempted to carry his success from semi-pro ball to the Arena Football League in 1997 with the Albany Firebirds, but sustained a career ending leg injury on the third day of training camp.

Instead of a helmet and pads, the next step of Thomas’ football career featured a headset and clipboard. After a stint as Defensive Coordinator for a championship team of 13-16 year olds, Thomas returned to semi-pro football in 2000 as Head Coach of the West Virginia WHAM! Located in Morgantown, WV, Thomas compiled a .695 winning percentage (41 wins, 18 losses), won three Coach of the Year awards, and coached three league All-Star games in six seasons as WHAM! head coach.

In 2001, Thomas also led the WHAM! to the Mid-Ohio Football League (MOFL) Championship.

During the 2003 season, Thomas took over full ownership of the WHAM! When he stepped off the WHAM! sideline in 2005, he decided to shift his focus full-time towards developing the success of semi-professional football and the WHAM! franchise. In the two years since he has stopped coaching, Thomas has held executive positions within the Ohio Valley Football League and the MOFL. In January of 2007, Thomas was promoted to MOFL Commissioner.

Currently, Thomas oversees the day-to-day operations of the MOFL – an expanding, 10-team semi-pro league across Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky. His love for semi-professional football is matched only by his desire to see the MOFL – and every minor league football organization – produce a football product that is competitive, organized, developed, and entertaining for the players in the game and the fans in the stands.

Thomas also serves as a Semi-Professional Sports Consultant with League Level, LLC, a company that provides marketing and promotional strategies for organizations with an emphasis in amateur and semi-professional athletics.

He currently resides in Morgantown, WV, with his wife Rochelle and two children, Jared, 3, and AJ, 10 months. Thomas also has son, JT Thomas III, from a previous relationship.

With proper knowledge of the best use of a soccer field diagram, a coach is able to correctly assign the different soccer positions to the player that best fits the needs of each position.

The four general zones of a soccer field are broken up into offensive zone, midfield zone, defensive zone, and the goal zone. Each area is of equal importance, and if one is weak the entire team is bound to suffer. Therefore, it is of the uttermost importance that a coach understands his or her team well and apply that knowledge to covering the four zones of the soccer field diagram.

Offensive Zone

While watching a soccer match, the players on your favorite team always positioned near the opponents goalposts, are the strikers or forwards. Their main role is to score goals and give your team the much needed victory. They are supplied with the ball by the midfielders or even the defenders. Also, a long goal kick can reach the strikers, and they can score from such balls.

If you are a soccer coach, you ought to know which players can create a formidable striking force from your squad. Usually, the strikers are players who are fast and have great ball control. They are strong so they can withstand the opposition. They do not panic in scoring situations. If you are a coach or you intend to be one, you should conduct multiple training sessions to help your strikers perfect their accuracy in aiming and shooting at the goal posts.

Midfield Zone

This is the biggest part of the soccer field diagram. There are different midfielders, each with a specific and clear responsibility on the field. The defensive midfielders help the back line in defending the goalkeeper. They are more or less like defenders, with the only difference being that they can go upfront. A well-done soccer field diagram also shows the responsibilities of the holding midfielder. This player stops the ball from advancing when his or her team is under immense pressure from the opposing side. He or she should be strong so as to run all over the field and help his or her team whenever possible.

The offensive midfield is that area of the soccer field diagram where there are players who constantly supply the strikers with the ball. They can also interchange with the strikers, so as to confuse the defenders of the opposing team.

Defensive Zone

The work of the defender is evident in their name. They are charged with the responsibility of defending their goalkeeper and interrupting the advancement of the strikers from the opposing team who are determined to score against them. They must be strong and fast. They need to be able to take good angles on the ball, and tackle very well.

Goal Zone

This is the only player who is allowed to handle the ball using his hands in the goal box area of the soccer field diagram. He or she is very often flexible, fast moving and being tall is an added advantage. Goalkeepers typically are very agile, light on their feet, have quick reactions and very decisive.

Once a coach understands the need to properly assign the most appropriate payers to the various positions, the soccer field diagram becomes the first line of defense to explain the roles and responsibilities of each player and each position on the soccer field.

Where To Get Help?

Since soccer is probably the most popular team ball game in the world, some one would think that all the rules and regulations for this sport would have been formed and know from the beginning, or at least that there would be some definite rules, universally accepted and applied. This is partially true, since when it comes to terms like out, goal kick, foul, etc, we all understand the same exact thing. However there is an interesting detail when it comes to the length and size of the field.

The size of the field, when soccer was first introduced, was not defined and even the layout could be different even within the same country, which practically meant that someone could play in a field of 80yards and someone else in a 100yards. This fact was not only weird but also unfair for the players, so the first Association of Soccer, founded by the British in the 19th century, introduced the first guidelines for the appropriate length, and years later FIFA established the rules and exist currently.

Even now though the existing rules permit some kind of variation when it comes to size : the field has to be rectangular ( this rule cannot change and does not underlie to any kind of variation ), the length cannot be less than 100 yards (90 m), and no bigger than 130 (120 m) and its breadth cannot be less than 50 (45 m), and no more than 100 yards (90 m) . For international games this is a little more limited: length cannot be more than 120 yards (110 m) nor less than 110 yards (100 m), and the breadth not more than 80 yards (75 m)nor less than 70 yards (64 m).

In any case though, the length must always exceed the breadth. In modern soccer though rarely can someone see that big variations, so more or less all fields have approximately the same size without reaching the maximum suggested and allowed. The size though has to be reduced when it comes to women soccer or to fields allocated for players under the age of 16 or those with disabilities.

Except for the outer lines size there are rules that apply to the inner lines of the soccer field as well. According to those, the field is separated by a central line, which has the exact same distance from the each of the width end. There is always a circle, located at the middle of this line and its diameter has to be 10 yards.

Goal posts are placed at the middle of each pitch width and have to be 24 feet wide and 8 feet high and they are surrounded by two rectangular boxes: the bigger one, called penalty box since every foul in this area leads to penalty kick, is 18 yards wide and 44 long.

The small box, called protection area, is 6 yards wide and long. One more interesting rule about the size of the interior lines of the field is that around the corner ends there is a flag set in a circle of 1 yard (.914m) diameter – this is where the corner kick takes place.

There are many researches and analysis about the soccer field length; most of them converge at the point that larger fields are more suitable for players with better stamina and those speedy ones who tend to kick the ball forward and run, making it hard for defenders, while the smaller ones are and allow more touches and bigger fun (that is why recreational and not professional ones are usually smaller).

In a larger field players have to run more which can affect their game play since they can be easily worn out and end up playing with long kicks and make the game boring and degenerated. Longer and bigger fields demand a better coordination and coverage between the lines from the teams, otherwise the opponents have better chance to organize their game and reach the goalposts becoming dangerous.

Introduction: As the FIFA 2010 has kicked off on June 11, 2010 at South Africa, there is a great feeling of euphoria and excitement all over the world about the games that encompasses the planet earth through media, news channels, news papers and Television sets. We all love football and in India too there is a great fervor among the populace to watch the game even though Indian football team has never qualified for the biggest football event of the World. We all adore our heroes, the demi-gods like Pele, Maradona, Beckham, Ronaldo, Kaka, Wayne Rooney and many others. Looking closely at the game and how the players are positioned, their role on the football stadium and the way the game proceeds, one cannot help but find a great metaphor of Life in it. That’s what this article is all about. It is a humble dedication and salutation to the greatest and most popular games of the world.

The Field: Soccer game is played on a field of 90 to 120 meters length and 45 to 90 meters of width. On both sides we see the goal posts. Your team which includes 11 players will be aiming to score a goal in the opposite goal post. The opposite team would be trying to defend that and rather counter attacking your goal post to score a goal. In life to you have to have goals. Your aim is to score goals. You cannot sit passively and watch while the outside circumstances counter attack you and make one goal after the other pushing you on the back foot. You got to be proactive. You got defend sometimes but also attack. You got to know where you have to reach, where you have to score a goal. Your goals are like the lighthouse for the ship which helps them to steer on the right path. Remember we are all placed on the soccer field by the Lord Almighty. We all are players on the field, we have to play our part, and we have to be proactive and know our aims and do everything to reach our goals. Then our life becomes exciting, and then we find meaning to this life. So that’s the first metaphorical lesson we glean from the soccer game. We are all players on the field of life and we have to score goals. We have to be proactive about our goals.

Positions: As the soccer games kicks off, the 11 players of a team are positioned on the field according to the various roles they play. We can learn a lot of things from the different positions they take and the various roles they play on the soccer field.

Goalie: Near the goal post is placed the goalie, who plays one of the most important role in a soccer game. He is there to defend the goals that opponent team hits in the net. Usually he has developed the special ability, alacrity and alertness to prevent the opposite team from hitting a goal in the net. He is like the compound wall around our houses that prevents trespassers. In life we have to play the role of a goalie when it comes to guarding ourselves from being hit by negative thoughts. Our minds are like the goal post. The outer circumstances, people and events can try to impregnate our minds with negative thoughts. We should play the role of a Goalie at such times and see that our minds are not invaded by the thoughts that can pull us down and demoralize us. What happens to a team whose Goalie is not able to defend the goals being put in the net. The team is weakened and its focus from scoring goals is switched to defending goals. It is demoralized and is rapidly moving toward defeat. That’s exactly the picture of a person who does defend himself or herself from negative thoughts. He or she will be weakened and will divert from his or her goals of pursuing excellence and succumb to defeat in life. So playing the role of a goalie in life is very important, we should know to defend ourselves from negative thoughts.

Back positioned Players: In the game of Soccer, the Goalie is not the only one who defends the goals. There are some players positioned at the back like the Centre Fullback, Left-Right Fullback and the Wingback who also help in defending and marking and attacking the Forward players from the opposite team. The roles that these players positioned at the back play, is the role that reminds us that in life many times it is important to be on the back foot and whenever the tide is against us we should be able to keep our calm. We should not be surprised that many times there are people, circumstances and events that will seem to pressurize us and put us behind. When you venture out in the sea in a ship, you are bound to encounter storms. That’s life! “Ships in the harbor are safe; but that’s not what Ships are meant for.” says William Shedd. Ships are supposed to go out and venture into the deep sea and fight it out against the storms that come against it. Many times we have to be players at the back, defending ourselves, our principles, our values, our faith, and our lives from being pushed behind, from getting bogged down. Many times there are people or circumstances that can force us to quit. Many students encounter failures, so do many professionals and businesspeople at such times we are tempted to give up but here the role of the players positioned at the back comes forth. We have to mark what is that is troubling us, go to the source of the trouble and defend ourselves. Many times we may have to defend ourselves from the wrong company who pulls us down, wrong habits that corrode our lives and wrong actions that reap the harvest of bad fruits. The Bible says, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him.” That standard is the players who play the game of Soccer positioned at the back.

Midfielders: Now there are players also positioned at the Middle of the football pitch. Some of them are the Left and Right Midfielders, Defensive Midfielders and the Central Midfielder. These players have the duty of game-making. They sometimes defend as well as make the game and then pass it out to players positioned forward. In our lives also there is a time when we have to sit and make out a strategy so that it becomes convenient for us to reach and achieve our goals. At such times we have to be the game makers, the Midfielders. There is a lot of scope in our lives to sit and plan and organize our lives. We have to resort to things like Time Management Planning, Goal Setting and writing the mission of our lives. Many times we have to prepare ourselves by learning different skills and techniques so that it is convenient for us to move ahead to reach our goals. At such times we are playing the roles of the game-makers, we are playing the role of Midfielders. Midfielders play an important role on the field for their team, without them the players that play forward who have to score goals against the opposition would be rendered helpless. They won’t have anything at their disposal to go ahead and shoot or score.

Players positioned as Forwards: Finally let us look at the players who are positioned forward on the soccer field. When the Goalie defends goals for the team, the players positioned behind defend from attackers and the midfielders make the game, the Forwards carry the ball into the opposition’s net. The players who are positioned forward are Deep Lying Forward, Centre Forward and the Winger. The main role of these players is to strike. They are always on the attacking mode. Once they have the ball in their possession, they seek to put it across the Goalie of the opposition team into the net. When we also defend our lives from negative attitude and thinking, when we defend ourselves from wrong practices, principles and people, when we prepare ourselves for the opportunities that lie before us then there will come a time where our goals, our aims would be as clear as the Football goalpost and we would be in the position to hit and score. So in life we would see opportunities before us lying wide awake that would help us to hit at our goals. It is possible that you would miss many hits, you may hit and miss by a mile but you got to keep hitting back till you put the ball across the Goalie into the net. In life we encounter failures, many times we miss read opportunities, many times we commit errors but we got to get up, dust ourselves and hit again. A Japanese Proverb says, “Fall down seven times; get up eight.” Scoring a goal into the net comes through immense practice and patience and we should also inculcate these two qualities when we want to reach our aims and goals in life. So it is important role that the strikers positioned forward play, for they give finishing touch to the game.

Conclusion: Friends, in the end I would like to encourage all of you to go ahead and enjoy the FIFA 2010. But I would also encourage you to look at the philosophical side of the game, the metaphor that the game of Soccer presents. May it excite and enthuse you with courage, confidence and capacity to enjoy, explore and elevate your life to the next level. May you hit and reach your goals in life, may you emerge winners and even when you feel that you have lost remember there’s always next time. The next FIFA in 2014 at Brazil.

Joy be all yours.

Sohan.

If you’re playing forward in indoor soccer, it can be very confusing to determine where you should be as play progresses. For the purpose of this article, I’m assuming you’re playing as a full forward and not a midfielder or a winger.

In indoor soccer, the absolute best place a forward can be is at the far post. This is the opposite post from the side of the field that the ball is on when you have possession. If your indoor field has walls, the ball will very, very frequently squirt out to the opposite post after a shot. This allows you to simply tap the ball in and score many goals. It also clogs up the box, which makes it hard for the keeper to see the ball and it makes it hard for the defender to mark you, since they need to make space for the keeper.

This leads into another spot for forwards – inside the opposition’s box. This is another area that allows you to score a lot of goals. Oftentimes, the ball will deflect off the wall into the middle, and you can slam it home from close range. This position also allows you to redirect the ball into the goal if your teammate hits it into the box. Playing in the box doesn’t allow your team to move the ball more effectively, but it does allow for lots of goals.

If you want to help your team move the ball around, go to the middle of your opponent’s half. This is a central spot that allows you to receive and pass the ball off to your teammates, facilitating movement around the field. You can also turn and shoot from this area, which can surprise the keeper and convert to a goal.

Two more spots are in the opponent’s corners and on the sideline. These are not the best positions for scoring goals, but they do allow you to feed the ball to your teammates. Your defence will often pass the ball up the sidelines, and you can receive it from either of these positions and then dish the ball off to a teammate that is making a run. This can lead to lots of goals, but just not by you.

Overall, you should move between all of these positions during a normal indoor soccer game – never just stay in one of them for a whole game. A mix of these will confuse the defence and lead to lots of goals for both you and your team!