Sunday, September 30, 2012

Books: Soldiers First

(Photo / Times Books)

In his 2010 story, Our Boys, New York Times writer Joe Drape made his first book-length venture into the world of football to chronicle the efforts of a small town high school team in Smith Center, Kansas. For his second football book, Drape traveled just 45 minutes up the road from his New York City home to chronicle a team far removed from the norm of college football.

Soldiers First is the story of the 2011 Army football team and the formidable challenges of being a student and athlete at one of the country's top academic institutions.  Drape focuses on a core of players on the squad, including current standout quarterback Trent Steelman, to illustrate the difference between a football player at a typical Division I school and those who play at West Point. Ironically the demands that Army football players face away from the field make practices and Saturday afternoons a welcome respite from their academics.

Drape's argument that the players are more hard-working, and perhaps more virtuous, than those celebrated (and often coddled) athletes at other institutions will be met with some skepticism in places outside of the military world. Yet, it rings true, as he combines unblinking factual and anecdotal story lines together to illustrate just how their lives are indisputably harder, and the standards of conduct at West Point unquestionably higher, than at most other colleges.

As importantly he details the why: for the Black Knights, their early careers after West Point will be realized near a battlefield, and not of the proverbial variety alluded to on NFL Sundays.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wall Street Journal, August 6

Lacrosse in Annapolis, c. 1924 (Photo / Library of Congress)

While writing up the Olympics at the time, we failed to mention that FIELD's Tom Flynn had an article on a noteworthy lacrosse goalie, Jordan Burke, in the August 6 issue of the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Movies: The Tillman Story

Pat and Kevin Tillman (Photo / public domain)

This article first appeared in September, 2010 at
Although the Tillman Story is by no means a sports movie, it is about a sports figure - the late Pat Tillman, a standout safety for the Arizona Cardinals who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.

The 2010 documentary can be distilled into two parts: one illuminating the life of Tillman and offering some insight into his motivation to leave behind a lucrative NFL career to serve in the military, and a second shedding valuable insight into the true circumstances surrounding his death.

The two are inextricably linked as the convictions of the living Pat Tillman stood in stark contrast to the manner in which his killing was 'spun.' Tillman's strength of character seemed to posthumously motivate the family he left behind to depict his death as it was: tragic, heroic, but accidental, and not of the glorious variety befitting a recruiting poster. The documentary focuses on the tireless efforts of Pat's mother, Mary "Dannie" Tillman, to uncover the true story behind his death. Tillman's father, Pat Sr., also tirelessly waded through the abundance of redacted documents provided to the family to essentially obfuscate the facts of the case.

Tightly written and directed, the movie stands solidly on the legs of both of its primary components, and offers at its core both an inspiring story of one man's patriotism, and a cautionary tale of the dangers of myth-making to advance an agenda.

College Football: Irish Return to North America, Top Purdue, Join ACC(Almost)

Notre Dame will pick up five ACC games each season, but its traditional rivals, like Navy, will remain on the schedule (Photo / wikimedia commons)

Tommy Rees returned from a one-game suspension to spell starter Everett Golson and lead Notre Dame (2-0) to a 20-17 win over Purdue (1-1) in South Bend. The junior QB entered the game with the score tied at 17 and led the Irish on a 55-yard march that set up kicker Kyle Brindza's winning field goal with 10 seconds left.

This week the Irish face #10 Michigan State (2-0) at East Lansing.

The news off the field this week was as significant as anything between the sidelines as Notre Dame will be joining the ACC in all its sports programs, other than football. While remaining independent, the move will add five ACC games to Notre Dame's football schedule each year and will also include facing each ACC opponent at least once every three years. A timetable has not been set with the ACC for the transition. migrated to

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