Adult Homework: Decorating the house is a not-so-secret guilty pleasure

I enjoy making stuff out of things. The cool kids call it ‘re-purposing’ but I like my sentence better than their word. Our coffee table? It’s a former crate that used to hold who-knows-what inside a building at Kodak. The entry way table pictured above? It’s scrap wood, stone and paint picked up at ReHouse (my favorite local salvage store). The box frames in the living room? Drawers I pulled out of a dresser someone put next to a dumpster.

Take that, Hobby Lobby.

The drawers on the wall could easily be standard box frames. But instead, they're drawers. The dangling drawer pulls make the  difference.

The drawers on the wall could easily be standard box frames. But instead, they’re drawers. The dangling drawer pulls make the difference.

Let me be clear, I like Hobby Lobby. And Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Homegoods–pretty much all stores like that. They’re like candy stores for grownups that make you feel like you can afford to look like you have more money. What’s not to like?

But I have a fundamental problem with walking into one of these stores and buying ‘shabby chic‘ furniture. I can’t stand the idea of someone walking in, sitting down, and saying, “Nice end tables. We just picked up the same ones at Marshall’s.” I’ll buy the napkin holders, maybe some pillows and a new coffee mug with a catchphrase on it, but there’s something about furniture and wall art that makes me want it to be unique.

So, I make stuff out of things.

It was surprising when I realized how much I enjoy coming up with an idea for how to use something and then pulling it off. The backdrop for our wedding was three antique doors supporting an antique chandelier. It wasn’t an entirely original idea (see Pinterest), but it had some uniqueness to it that will never show up on anyone else’s big day. It probably wasn’t built the right way. I probably used the wrong screws and maybe it’s not “level” by a level’s standards. But that’s how I know it’s mine.

My new favorite piece of art is the watercolor painting my niece Madison did for me, and it’s new home is inside one of those three drawers. It’s an original, signed by the artist herself and is 1 of 1 in a collection of 1.

I can tell I sound like an ass writing this, scoffing at the un-creative buying their wares with artificial shabby and mass-produced chic. SCOFF! SCOFF, I say!! It’s not like that (entirely), it’s just the way I want to be. I already know Caitlynn is biting her tongue at some of my decor. We have different tastes and she’s letting me get away with it for now. At some point she won’t, and I’ll have to say, “Yes, I love that hutch from Pottery Barn way more than this one made from old picnic tables.”

And then I’ll make a shelf out of discarded window shutters. That’ll shutter up.

DeSean Jackson

Give credit: The Eagles–not the Redskins–gave DeSean Jackson his clean slate

DeSean Jackson was cut less than a week ago for a list of vague but troubling reasons. One of the most explosive players in the NFL over the past six seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Jackson was unceremoniously let go for some combination of having a poor work ethic, not playing well with others, and something else … what was it? Oh, right, his possible connections with a Los Angeles gang.

I purposely put the whole ‘gang’ thing last on the list for two reasons: (1) it can’t be proven, but more because (2) it’s already become a footnote in his bio. He’s a member of the Washington Redskins for the bargain price of $24 million over three years, $16 million of it is guaranteed. Move forward. Get away from the possible, probable and definite issues Jackson carries with him. He’s a dynamic playmaker, and if he can help the Redskins surpass their division-rival Eagles (as well as the Cowboys and Giants) then he’s an absolute steal.


What’s most likely to happen: DeSean Jackson will put up some serious numbers for the Redskins. He’ll take attention away from WR Pierre Garcon, stretch the field for RB Alfred Morris, and take pressure off of QB Robert Griffin (or QB Kirk Cousins). And by ‘pressure’ I mean in terms of how often teams blitz. They’ll need more players in the secondary to keep up with DJax. I actually think the pressure from fans, media, teammates, media, coaches and media will skyrocket for RGIII. (Yeah, media is mentioned three times to account for all of the NFL coverage out there.)

Jackson won’t commit any crimes worse than a traffic violation. He’ll show up to voluntary workouts like he never has before. He’ll be a boyscout. And when he torches the Eagles secondary, win or lose, Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ brass will draw ire from fans, media, teammates, media, coaches and media. Washington will likely be better, the Eagles might be worse, and if it results in the Redskins finishing ahead of Philly, the Eagles will never hear the end of it.

But the Eagles will not have been wrong. Someone with more clout than me needs to remind them of that fact. It will never be proven, but Philly’s higher-ups may have at the very least prevented a crime or at the most saved a life. It’s not that dramatic of a statement. They’ll never dish the full list of reasons why he was released, but just consider what it would take for your team to dump arguably its best player in the prime of his career. It wasn’t money–Jackson just had a career year AFTER signing a huge contract, so his value was still going up. They had to have found something, and it may have been so small as identifying a destructive pattern that needed to be broken before it turned a man into a criminal (see Aaron Hernandez).

Aaron Hernandez

On August 22, 2013, Hernandez was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Odin Lloyd, and is currently being investigated in connection with other murders in Massachusetts.

Ever see ‘Minority Report’ with Tom Cruise? The crux was a paradox of punishing people for committing a crime they did not yet commit. If you stop them, then they can’t be guilty. In this case (reality), instead of charging someone with future crime and putting them into some trance-inducing prison, DeSean Jackson was fired. Again, there’s no telling what he might have done. He was punished for a having an alarming probability of poor conduct with a wide range of possible outcomes. *He was pulled over for DUI before the possibility of causing a fatal accident. It’s likely the Eagles saved his life.

But history will never write it that way unless Jackson has some deep realization and at some point publicly thanks his former employer for it. The likely facts will be that Jackson has a productive, maybe illustrious career with the Redskins. The Eagles will not reach a Super Bowl without him, and they’ll get shamed ( externally) for letting go of a unique talent in his prime. Even if Jackson were to get into trouble after a successful career is over, the team would not be able to escape the criticism of giving up on him.

What is also likely is that the Eagles made the right decision. They may have even saved a life. Maybe not a literal life, but more that they broke a man’s destructive pattern, allowing him to refocus his life into something productive instead of criminal.

*To be clear, this statement is metaphorical. As far as I know, DeSean Jackson has no DUIs on his record.

NOTE: This was spurred by the ESPN article announcing Jackson’s signing with the Redskins. In that article (roughly 16 paragraphs long), there was no mention of why Jackson was released by the Eagles in the first three-quarters of the story. ESPN is already over it.

Ease your spouse’s mind with the Marital Status Disclaimer, but results may vary

She got to wear her blue shoes during our wedding ceremony, but I had to wait til after to put on my Chuck Tailor All-Stars. Totes cray cray adorbes. PHOTO by Sara Klem

She got to wear her blue shoes during our wedding ceremony, but I had to wait til after to put on my Chuck Tailor All-Stars. Totes cray cray adorbes. PHOTO by Sara Klem

My wife and I have been “My wife and I” for three-quarters of a year. Our marriage is so young that it still quantifies age by half- and quarter-years, like a 9-year-old who really wants to be 10 already. “I’m 9-and-three-quarters!”

We’re 30-ish (I’m 31 and she’s 30), still young and cool and down and whatevs. We still meet new people. New people of the opposite sex. And sometimes those new people are pretty cool. Cool enough to mention in normal conversation when you’re talking about your day.

“Yeah, she’s hilarious, very witty, married for a few years, and likes the same shows we do.”

The Marital Status Disclaimer is injected directly into the conversation, usually spoken faster than any other part of the sentence like the side effects of new drug on the market. May cause heart pain, stress, anxiety, and high blood pressure.

When Caitlynn drops a new man’s name, I admit I immediately need to know the extent of their relationship. Do they have a history? Is he handsome? Successful? And, of course, married? I don’t ask these questions, because, ya know, gotta play it cool. Can’t look threatened or like she’s not trustworthy. Honestly, “threatened” and “not trustworthy” are a bit extreme for how I feel when I hear about a random Greg, Dave or Dick (yeah, that’s on purpose). It’s closer to that thing your parents used to say about you going out with friends. “I trust you, I just don’t trust your friends and I want you to be safe.”

Marriage is an emotional investment like nothing else. I need to make sure my investment is protected. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten about successful marriage is to pay attention—to warning signs, to needs, to wants and to yourself. So when she mentions a man, he’s worth mentioning. If he’s worth mentioning, I want to know why. And she needs to know I want to know. And, of course, this works both ways.

We both drop MSDs for two reasons: 1) A sign of respect knowing the other person probably wants to ask but won’t, and 2) Because if either of us has to ask then they’re going to assume there’s a reason they have to ask—”What are you hiding?” So ridiculous, but then again, we’re only three-quarters year old, so cut us some slack. My hunch is that this isn’t abnormal.

We drop the MSD to protect the image of innocence. This other person—who might be funny or nice or cool or sweet—is not a threat to the marriage because they are married, engaged, or at least have been with someone for years. First off, why the hell does it matter? YOU’RE MARRIED! Why does their status matter when your status trumps it? You’re status is the Right Bauer. The fact they’re happily married or happily single is dwarfed by your Jack of Hearts. (Do you play euchre? No? Sorry… the Right Bauer is the Jack Bauer of euchre. Can’t beat it. Look it up.)

Still, there appears to be some value in assessing the threat level of him or her. The hope is that their marital status (other than single) truly matters to them. If so, they’re less likely to pursue something that ruins their own relationship much less ours. This risk assessment is helpful to our own piece of mind, a sort of relationship insurance. Unfortunately, like most insurance policies, not everything is covered. A positive MSD (married) doesn’t mean nothing is going to happen. If it did, we wouldn’t even need the MSD because, again, YOU’RE MARRIED.

The MSD is not rendered useless because of the unsettling fact that married people do un-married people things, though it does create a paradox. How can we use an MSD as piece-of-mind insurance when our minds know it is theory rather than law?

How should we know? We’re only three-quarters-of-a-year old! All I know is some medications have negative side effects. They can heal, or they can cause heart problems. It says so right on the bottle. See …

*Marital Status Disclaimer does not protect against all forms of extramarital conduct. Use as directed by spouse. If effectiveness of MSD decreases over time, consult your spouse about an increase or decrease in dosage. MSD should not be used in place of the fact that YOU’RE MARRIED.

All that running and no results: An app-setting development

Runners mingle in the atrium of the Blue Cross Arena just after completing the Johnny's Runnin' Of The Green on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

Runners mingle in the atrium of the Blue Cross Arena just after completing the Johnny’s Runnin’ Of The Green on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

I have two screens in my face at this moment: my laptop and my cell. I had to upload a pic from my phone to WordPress from this morning’s 5-mile run (the Johnny’s Runnin’ Of the Green) in downtown Rochester. It was the second straight year I ran the race with a couple buddies, and both times we drank a bit too much the night before. Not sure if that’s part of the tradition now, but we’ll find out next year.

Normally after a race, runners will make their way to the bottles of water or Gatorade, the bagels and bananas, and then head toward the little corner where the results are posted to find out their official times. I’ve seen sheets of paper being taped to a wall and big screens where you type in your bib number.

Today, there were papers on the wall. But instead of results, there were QR codes. Scan the code, follow the links, get your results. And this brings me back to the screens. Instead of runners huddling up, bending around one another to find their results, they have the convenience of using their smartphones (which everybody has by now, right?). It was the only way they offered to get results right after the race, otherwise you’d wait until they’re posted on a website (another screen).

This bothered me for two reasons: 1) My cell was in my car and 2) where’s the fun in that?

I get it. Everybody has a smartphone and everybody uses it and everybody loves convenience and QR codes and swiping and beep beep bop boop there it is! It’s personal, because it’s your phone and your moment with no one around you. But that’s the problem: there’s no one around you.

I can’t be the only one who likes the scene of people shoulder-to-shoulder bending for room to find their time. I still wouldn’t call myself “a runner” the way some of these others are, but I think I have an understanding of the culture a bit. Runners have built a community with certain traditions, and I guess I’m surprised at how much the tradition of finding your time on the wall was missed today. I have no way of knowing if anyone else — a “runner”, perhaps — felt this way, but my guess is yes.

And it’s not like I’m clamoring for the old days of stop watches, no ear buds and hand-written results. Chip timing and ultra-light shoes are great because they are improvements of the culture with more accurate times and less painful feet. Neither of those improvements come at the cost of the culture (unless someone misses foot pain).

Having the technology to do something doesn’t mean the reason to do it is there, too. I don’t just want my time. I want to see the faces of other people when they find their time. I want to hear their conversations about what they think they did, how happy they are that they did it, and completely unrelated topics — humans being humans.

I’ll let the good people at PCR Timing know my opinion and maybe I won’t be the only one. Maybe nobody noticed. And maybe that’s the worst part.

It’s 4:07 p.m. and the results are still not posted. Not sure how they can post them instantly to an app but not to the website. However, just saw my results from the 2013 race; I clocked in at 40:05, meaning I ran 8:01/mile. I think I was a bit off that pace today, but I guess I’ll find out later…

It’s 4:17 p.m. and the results have been posted. I finished in 42:44.7 with a 8:33/mile average. A little disappointed now that I compare it to 2013. Must be gettin’ old. However, so are the people around me, because both years I finished 50th in the 30-34 age division. At least I’m keeping pace with my peers.

The Brilliance of Mark Cuban: Let ’em play and pay ’em for it

Mark Cuban has the right idea about the NBADL.

Mark Cuban has the right idea about the NBADL.

Mark Cuban knows how to get things going. The Dallas Mavericks owner and  part-time shark said recently that high school basketball stars should consider jumping directly to the NBA’s Developmental League, rather than going to college for one or two seasons before declaring for the NBA Draft.

This, apparently, is a brand-new concept to people in the basketball business. Representatives on both sides–NBA and NCAA–from Charles Barkley and Jerry West to Bruce Pearl and Larry Brown have denounced this as a ridiculous concept that will surely result in the Apocalypse … of basketball.

The Cubes has it right.

Proponents of the college game tout “the college experience” as something uniquely beneficial to these athletes. “They get certain life skills and gain an appreciation for academics with the rest of the student body.” (Not a real quote, more of a gist). Stop it. The college experience for a premier men’s basketball player is nothing like that of the average pinky toe of the student body. While they all likely have been told that they have what it takes to make it to the NBA, there are a definitive few who can legitimately cut class three years early. Those players show up, play ball, and leave. They can’t earn a degree in that time and they know it. So, while they may even get legit grades, they do it with a course load that is geared to get grades. Their goal isn’t to graduate, it’s to pass (the time). And I don’t fault them for that; the system allows it and even promotes it.

Talking heads say the college game is the best at preparing players for the NBA. If they are true student-athletes, why is it the school’s job to prepare them for a life that does not require the degree? Shouldn’t it be to prepare them for a career off the court and, if they happen to make it to the league then so be it? Truth is, universities spend millions of dollars on trying to find and develop the best basketball players they can so the school’s colors can stain television screens in March. If they happen to graduate the so be it.

The perception of the D-League is that of an empty gym for oft-injured veterans and raw prospects to give it a go. It’s basketball limbo with C-minus talent in cities that aren’t quite “destinations” with crowds closer to semi-pro wrestling. So what? The disdain with which the D-League is talked about confuses me because no other minor league gets the same treatment.

Cito Culver

Cito Culver

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old kid named Cito Culver was drafted in the first round by the New York Yankees in 2010.  No one batted an eye. He since has yet to get past the Single-A level. He’s barely 20 and will never know the college experience, but nobody worried he was making the wrong decision. Maybe his career .238 batting average is just the coming-of-age portion of his baseball biography. Maybe at 21, 22, 23 or 24 he’ll break into the league and enjoy a 10-year career. Or maybe he’ll fade into minor league purgatory, forgotten before he could be remembered.

Baseball and hockey have made stories like that OK. It’s part of the culture of those sports. The NBA would do well to develop something similar–the kind of indifference to the eventual outcome that helps scouts, fans, athletes and their parents sleep at night.

Ideally, the D-League and other minor leagues would make a college fund part of any player’s initial contract. A player could come out of high school, earn a paycheck to play basketball, and earn added money that can only be used to pay a tuition. The truly great players who make a name for themselves in high school would be free to sign endorsement deals, and then join the NBA a year or two years later. And follow baseball’s lead: If a player opts to go to college after they’ve been drafted in high school, they are required to wait three years before becoming draft eligible again.

In the end, the NBA has the power to make this happen at the great expense of the fleeting NCAA. The governing body of college sports has taken so many hits over the past decade that it seems a perfect time for a break-up. The NBA is a business, and the NCAA is a business that clings to a poorly held-together notion of altruism that is all but evaporated. The first time a major college prospect opts for the D-League instead of Duke, makes some cash, and becomes an NBA star, consider the floodgates opened.

And thank Mark Cuban.

I’m not fighting cancer unless I get a free tote bag*

I’m sorry, I just won’t do it. I mean, don’t have cancer, and if I ever do get it I’ll need all the money I have to fight it then. So if you’re gonna sell me on the idea of sharing my own security blanket, my own disposable income, with some scientist to save the day for someone that’s not me, I better get a damn tote bag out of it!!!

Oh, there IS a free tote bag in it for me? Oh, well then, here, I’m happy to help. Who do I make a check out to?

*End Sarcasm Here

Look at the envelope above. Which words did you read first?

Look at the envelope above. Which words did you read first?

It’s not exactly like that, but when I received a letter in the mail today, the envelope had three things on it: 1) A seashell, 2) the words “Imagine a world without cancer!” in blue above the address, and 3) the words “FREE TOTE BAG DETAILS INSIDE!” in red in the right corner. Despite it’s placement, I read the red text first because, ya know, it’s red. And in caps. Plus, ‘FREE’ … so …

Apparently the concept of a cancer-less world has proven to be not enough for would-be donation givers. The truly stupid part was that I opened the standard-sized envelope fully expecting a collapsed tote bag in there like it were Marry Poppins’ purse. Would I even have opened it if the free tote were not an option? Not sure, since it was the offer contrasting with the cause that got my attention.

“Do people really need a free tote in order to fight cancer?” That was my thought as I opened it. And when no such tote was there, I turned here to, I don’t know, vent? We wear bracelets, run in 5k’s, buy T-shirts, and create hashtags to show we care about things that are so basic on the spectrum of caring that it’s hard not to feel self-righteous when we participate. From “I gave blood today” buttons to “Fuck Cancer” t-shirts, we advertise our generosity. It’s not all to promote ourselves and it’s not necessarily disingenuous, but it does seem like we do a lot more when there is a way to show it off.

I get it, too. If I stand alone against cancer, there’s no way we can win. But if I buy a  bracelet then that makes me part of a group of hundreds, thousands and hundreds of thousands. Then I feel a lot better about contributing to a cause that we can win. And there’s even basic truth to it: the more people we have fighting cancer, the better our chances are of winning. More people, more money, more minds, and more tote bags.

It shouldn’t matter why we decide to help, but that we decide to help. In my mind, the cause should be cause enough, and to many it definitely is. But to energize the masses, it takes symbols of community. Like an N-Y on your hat, a yellow ribbon on the back window of your car, or a rainbow flag on your porch, showing support beyond your monetary or voluntary donations does have an impact.

So, yes, send me my free tote bag and make sure it tells people that I helped; that they can help, too. And that when they do, they can get a tote bag that inspires someone else. Not everyone is equally affected by cancer, but everyone needs a bag to put shit into now and then.

First attempt at a Sketch Guru post

I downloaded Sketch Guru as a virtual drawing outlet for me during downtime at the restaurant. I serve tables and bartend roughly four nights a week. Did I not tell you?

Downtime at a restaurant can be brutal, so I thought I’d draw. My first attempt to post my first sketch resulted in:

I sketch this painting with Sketch Guru on my Android phone 🙂

The link went to a place to download the app, not to my sketch or anything usefu

Not sure why, but the default title of this sketch was "recovery" -- I'll take it.

Not sure why, but the default title of this sketch was “recovery” — I’ll take it.

l. So, save to Google Photos, download to laptop, upload to WordPress and attach. Seems adorably antiquated and I probably just am not doing it right or missed a step. Nevertheless, my my first sketch is now public. I don’t have classical training as a drawer or artist of any kind. At best I have classic-ish training, which is to say I draw what I want when I want and if it looks better this time than last time then I did something right.

It’s an outlet, I guess. Not for a specific emotion, but more for a need. A need to feel creative. I’m trying to change that to “A need to be creative” but that’s psychology and I’m not feeling up for it right now.

If anyone is up for it and wants to judge my first drawing as some kind psychological platform, please do. Professional or hilarious opinions only, please.

Fit at 30: A guide to fitness from a guy who’s not that fit

I’m 30. For another week, I’m 30. Then I’m 31. I have an email in to a local professor to confirm that 32 comes next, but I have yet to get a reply. If this trend continues, in nine years I’ll be exactly nine years older.


That’s my new hashtag; tried it a little while ago and was rewarded with a “Favorite” from my favorite professor back at Ithaca College, Brian Sweany. I’m pretty sure he was only there for two years before returning to Texas, but I’m glad those two years came when I was around. He’s favorited or retweeted a handful of my tweets over the past few years, but, whatevs.

“Hit the gym this morning. Turns out I’m 30. #AgeHappens”

Brian was, I believe, in his early 30s when he was at the front of my classroom in Park, and I assume he’s aged at the same rate that I have. He’s got kids, a career in journalism, a life, and I don’t know much more about him than that. But the fact he’s been 30 longer than I have tells me he gets it.

I’ve never been and never will be one to freak out when February 18 comes around again and my cake requires two breaths to put out the inferno of candles. I embrace growing older as long as I don’t have to grow up. While some men are excited to come home to “Dinner’s ready!” from their wives, my favorite Welcome Home Moment so far is:

“Hey, baby, I loaded all of your Nerf guns for you.” She’s the best.

True story. No kids yet (myself notwithstanding) but I’m pumped about that idea and being childish with them. I figure I take my age and their age, split the difference, and we’ll have a blast building forts and blaming the cat for knocking over a vase.

But today, age happened. I recently bought my father-in-law’s workout bench, which he brought over this past weekend. After spending some time online searching for the best exercises, best time of day to lift and best time to eat (before or after), I got back to getting fit.

I should preface with my fitness background: 6-feet tall, 182 pounds (personal high), three-sport athlete in high school (football, boxing and lacrosse), athletic but not a student-athlete in college, spurts of regular exercise after graduation, turned to running and can comfortably run 5 miles right now. Completing my first and only half-marathon in an hour and 45 minutes stands as my proudest athletic feat. I’m not in bad shape, I just don’t work at it, like a lot of the over-30s out there.

So, with my boombox set up in the basement tuned to ESPN Radio, I got started … again. I outlined a list of stretches (even more crucial now) and then hit the bench. The weight won’t impress anyone for 3 sets of traditional bench press and some inclined press, then some legs (extensions and curls), some triceps and I’m sure some other muscles. I don’t know a lot about what I’m doing but I’m glad I’m doing it. I carry amateur status at best.

I want to be in shape, but the most healthy aspect of mine right now is perspective. When I was 16, 17, 18, I wondered why I wasn’t 30 pounds heavier and jacked despite a pretty consistent workout regimen. I resented it for the longest time that my body refused to put on weight beyond 160 pounds. I hated thinking that I would be a great athlete if I could just be bigger. Now I’m 30, and I get it. I didn’t have to be 200 pounds back then and I certainly don’t need that now. I’m not just comfortable, I’m happy knowing what my body is and what it can be.

So I hit the gym. And it turns out I am definitely 30. I’m sore, and the weights don’t weigh that much but for some reason are heavier than I remember. But this is what I want and how I want to be. Instead of having dreams of athletic glory, I have goals of being healthy; of carrying 1 to 3 kids until they don’t want to be carried anymore because they’re all grown up at age 5 and they don’t need me anymore. Apparently, #AgeHappens to them, too.

If you’ve got any tips for at-home exercise, drop me a line. I’m still considering CrossFit and a future post may or may not exist to that end. For now, I’ll be on the Bayer Smoothy diet.

The rise and fall of football

Mention the concept of the NFL or football for that matter falling from its rank as the dominant sport in the United States, and be prepared to be labeled a fool. The NFL is enjoying the greatest success any sport in America ever has right now, and is somehow doing it all under the guise of a non-profit organization. The NFL is in the business of making the rich richer while making the poor feel rich, if only for a while, and it’s more efficient at reaching that end than most any industry.

But like great teams destined to rule for years as a dynasty (Cowboys, 49ers, Steelers, Patriots, etc.), great industries (newspapers, automakers, etc.), and great music (swing, disco, grunge), everything gets old. Everything reaches a highpoint and then realizes that the only thing that can follow a highpoint is decline. The NFL, football is at it’s highpoint. The Fall of Football has begun.

Now watch the Rise of Football. Excuse me … Futbol. American spell check doesn’t know what means, but it won’t be long before that’s fixed.

Soccer is the world’s game, and although we in the States like to think of our stuff as being the best, American football can’t hold a candle to the economic and social impact of soccer.  The figures below are from 2009, but still show the disparity in global popularity and prosperity.

While one argument I always hear about the NFL is that it’s too big to fail. If size matters, then it’s soccer who cannot fail and it’s not even close.  You don’t have to look at the international game to see it, either. In an article by Forbes in November of 2013, the undeniable success of America’s own Major League Soccer (MLS) accounts for the first giant steps to a monumental shift.

According to the article:

Now, there are 19 teams – with another New York City team scheduled to launch in 2015 and one in Orlando in the works. And with Hunt selling his second soccer team, Columbus Crew, for an MLS record $68 million this July, ownership is as dispersed and valuable as ever. Average attendance has surged to 18,600, a more than 35% increase from the 2000 nadir of just over 13,700.

Of course, these numbers pail in comparison to the NFL or even major college football, but the true signs of demise are not at the top, but at the bottom. Youth football is experiencing a drastic decline in participation, the likes of which they haven’t seen in decades. Hinging largely on the health issues of the last five years over concussions, parents simply don’t want their children put in harm’s way. According to a report by ESPN’s Outside the Lines: The nation’s largest youth football program, Pop Warner, saw participation drop 9.5 percent between 2010-12, a sign that the concussion crisis that began in the NFL is having a dramatic impact at the lowest rungs of the sport.

And then there’s market saturation. I used to enjoy watching NFL pregame shows for an hour or two before kickoff. Now, I spend my mornings watching the English Premiere League games that start just as I’m waking up and usually lead me right until 1 p.m. It’s fantastic. The athleticism is astounding and the action is not boring as football purists would have you believe. There are more soccer games available on TV now than ever before.

Should I also get into the shifting demographics of the United States? Suffice to say that with a population becoming more diverse,  most of those different nationalities have one thing in common — their love of soccer.  It is infused in the blood of those who will make up a minority majority.

If this post were a thesis, I’d keep going, but I think the point’s been made. And I didn’t even play soccer, I played football. Pop Warner and high school. I love the game, I’m just not “in love” with it anymore.

It won’t happen soon. Not five or 10 years. But in a full generation, I expect the shift to be clear. Baseball had its run and the NBA’s highpoint proved to come at a time when the NFL was reaching its own so it will never hold the top spot. But when all of these economic and social factors eventually add up, it will be to the sum of soccer.