My#2020 #NewYear #Resolutions

Chelsea fans have to be up and at ’em early.

The first day of 2020 brings us a full day of Premier League, thank goodness. Here’s the schedule and if for some unfathomable reason, TheBlackPitch.com is your main source of soccer insights AND you’re a Chelsea fan, I hope you have some other reminder to wake up early for the first match, because we’re only hours away at this point, and you’re likely still out in the streets, whooping it up and drinking yourself into the abyss that was 2019.

PSA: Don’t drink and drive. If you’re gonna drink, don’t drive and if you’re gonna drive, don’t drink.

All times shown are Eastern

Of course, tomorrow (or today, depending on when you’re actually reading this) will be a good day to have NBC Sports Gold Premier League Pass. The Watford v. Wolves match should be interesting, as should the West Ham v. Bournemouth. It’ll be West Ham’s first match at home with newly-reappointed manager David Moyes. Typically, you’d expect a bit of a rebound bounce from a club bringing in a new manager, so we’ll see what the actual turnaround might look like for The Hammers. Of course, the standard NBCSN lineup will provide plenty of fun for the day, as I anticipate you, like me, won’t be leaving the couch.

2020 New Year’s Resolutions

The bigger thing I’ve been thinking about is resolutions for the new year, as it relates to my indulgence in soccer/football/the beautiful game. Here are my Top 5 Resolutions for 2020.

Make a better effort to consistently catch the NWSL and Women’s FA club matches. As much as I’ve caught matches here and there, both leagues haven’t been in my regular rotation as much as they should be. Part of this was tracking down a better way to watch, which I think I might have a solution for, but some of this really comes down to putting together a viewing calendar to make sure I’m not tuning in last minute, all of the time. I do this for Premier League, Bundesliga and MLS, so I simply need to add these leagues to the rotation.

See at least four of the Des Moines’ Menace’s home matches this season. I like the Menace. I have a ton of fun watching the lads, especially in recent seasons. Part of being a supporter of local soccer is getting out to the soccer you have in your community. Sometimes, and this is me being totally transparent, but our local club can be a bit of out-of-sight, out-of-mind for me, and remember, soccer is my favorite sport. Part of this is the ease of watching the bigger clubs with the better viewing options. While it allows me to be a soccer fan and digest a lot of matches, it also allows me to be a lazy fan. I have to be out supporting the community in which I live if I hope that we ever have a real chance at fostering a club in a larger league in the Des Moines area.

Regularly watch USL Championship and USL One matches on ESPN+. While these aren’t new additions to ESPN+ (I believe), I simply need to add them to the rotation. In recent months, my attention has turned to interests in the more localized/regional soccer options. These are all great clubs and I don’t mean this in any type of disrespect, but it’s simply easier to be a fan of the biggest clubs in the world. Soccer has to be, first and foremost, local for it to grow and flourish. So, while our Menace will be playing at the League Two level and I’ll have to see it in person, I can help the audience grow by watching the matches on ESPN+.

Watch at least half as many Sheffield Wednesday matches as I watch Chelsea FC matches. One of these days, the Owls will be in the Premier League. Then, my heart will be tugged into two parts. But, until that day, I need to do a better job keeping up with SW.

Finish hanging my new Chelsea FC and Sporting KC flags in my home office. Typical me. Received two brand-new, beautiful flags to hang in the home office, but both are sitting, folded neatly on my desk. There’s got to be a break in the action on New Year’s Day, right?

Megan #Rapinoe takes away the #Ballondor

So earned, so deserved.

A quality trophy well-earned the greatest player of the year, both on and off the field. What more can we say about Megan Rapinoe? Her passion and dedication are simply intoxicating. An hour of time spent listening to her thoughts and ideas should compel your desire to be a better person. Simply put, the way she and her teammates play the beautiful game is nothing less than inspirational. Of course, it is right that she is honored with the Ballon d’Or. Congrats Megan!!!

Read more:

Just call it soccer already

Honestly (and this is a bit of a follow-up to the earlier post about Rapinoe at Drake), if you want to talk about a meritocracy in soccer to understand the inequality of pay, look no further than the last run of scores between the USWNT and the USMNT. (And, no, I didn’t just pull the best looking weeks from any of these for comparisons…the historical data almost makes it look worse.)

USWNT’s run over the past four months: 7 wins, 1 draw
USMNT: Not as hot.

Pure Inspiration

Megan Rapinoe’s interview at Drake University’s Knapp Center last night was pure inspiration. I completely agree that when our society has a fascination with celebrities and athletes, alike, there’s not just an opportunity to be an advocate for the issues you believe in, but there’s almost a responsibility to do so. She’s a champion on and off the pitch and the world needs more folks like her, simply put.

To that extent, we need several things to balance out the dramatic gap between men’s and women’s sports.

  • Yes, men’s sports have benefited greatly from decades of excellent marketing, branding and exposure through TV, radio and streaming contracts.
  • The NWSL needs a greater level of exposure too, to build their fan base. I mean, name me three NWSL teams right now without looking it up. I’ll be even the most diehard fan can’t do so. I love the NWSL and follow the USWNT and I’d top out at around three named teams.
  • Exposure means the NWSL needs better coverage than being on the Yahoo sports app. When was the last time you used Yahoo for anything? Right?!?! There is a partnership with ESPN that will put more of the matches on ESPN2. I guess that’s a start.
  • We need to fall in love with the teams. Soccer is one of the interesting sports where fans will often follow the team more than the players themselves. Players will come and go. Without a strong fan base built around the team, the NWSL will remain somewhat marginalized.

So, as I work on this blog, I’m going to try to focus on the women’s leagues too. For the next few months, until NWSL kicks their 2020 season off, it’ll mostly be international friendly competitions, but that’s ok. The USWNT rules and their recent track record has been second to none.

Megan Rapinoe at Drake University Tonight

Who is stoked about Megan Rapinoe’s Bucksbaum Lecture at Drake tonight? I know I am. Rapinoe is not only one of the world’s most important sports figures, she’s appropriately leveraged her platform as an advocate for equality and to elevate the beautiful game.

From Drake:

US women’s national soccer team (USWNT) co-captain Megan Rapinoe will be interviewed in a moderated question and answer session for the 41st installment of the Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series at Drake University. The event will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 19 in the Knapp Center, 2525 Forest Ave. and is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

The highly decorated two-time World Cup Champion and Olympic gold medalist is not only a successful women’s soccer player, but an outspoken advocate for equality. She has focused her efforts publicly on women’s rights, equal pay, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, and refugee rights.

Rapinoe is a fan favorite and one of the team’s most technical players. A vocal leader on and off the pitch, Megan helped lead the USWNT to the 2019 Women’s World Cup Championship scoring some of the biggest goals of the tournament. She took home the tournament’s two top honors: the Golden Boot for top scorer, and the Golden Ball for the best player in the tournament.

Rapinoe and her twin sister Rachel started the company Rapinoe SC, a soccer and performance training and lifestyle apparel business. The mission of their brand is to help people of all ages and backgrounds reach their full potential and Be Your Best You, both on and off the field. Additional, Megan co-founded with teammates Re-Inc., a purposeful lifestyle brand.

Please note the following details regarding this lecture:

The doors to The Knapp Center will open at 5 p.m., and the moderated Q&A lecture will begin at 7 p.m.

The lecture will last approximately one hour to an hour and a half, and there will be no greeting period after the lecture is finished.

There will be reserved handicap seating on the floor of The Knapp Center. The elevator is located on the southeast corner of The Knapp Center, just inside the south entrance doors. There will also be an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter at the lecture.