Blog


“Dear England” Play Blog Post (January 8th)

Over the past couple of decades, England has experienced many roadblocks in the Men’s World Cup, which serves as the primary inspiration for the piece “Dear England.” This theatrical production focuses on detailing the account of the struggles and successes of England’s football teams. It employs real characters, events, and occurrences to narrate the story of England’s football journey. One significant aspect that the piece embodies is the need for cultural change within the team, urging the country of England to embrace losses rather than criticize and rebuke the players. Overall, appealing to the ethos of the audience whilst getting them “amped-up” for the foreseen successes in the 2026 world cup. 

The play took place at the Prince Edward Theatre, a West End Theatre located in the heart of London’s entertainment district. The West End district is a location renowned for its various theaters, and the Prince Edward is one of its main attractions. The theater opened on April 3rd, 1930 and features an Art Deco architectural style that was very typical of the time. The theater has over 1700 seats, allowing it to accommodate a sizable audience for various performances. Since its opening, the theatre has been a host to numerous musicals and plays. Because of its large size and the notable productions put on here, the Prince Edward Theatre is something of a cultural landmark. On January 10th, the theatre hosted a production of “Dear England”, a play written by James Graham and directed by Rupert Goold. The play went on tour on October 9th 2023 and will last until January 13th 2024. The play had a running time of two hours and fifty minutes, including an intermission. 

From a coaching perspective, this play is fascinating to look at. Although following the journey of a manager who is tasked with coaching a team towards international success, the play focuses much more on mental health than actual football and training. Apart from a singular training scene meant to replicate a physical session, there are no real demonstrations of his coaching in this sense. The majority of the coaching is accomplished off the field on the mental side of the game. It is no secret that playing for and managing England is a difficult task with players and coaches facing continuous scrutiny and abuse if they do not meet expectations which in the case of England is winning everything. The play was able to emphasize this and showcase the importance of mental health. It was interesting to see that coaching can be used to effect and improve this in ways that can lead to actual success on the field. If a team trusts each other and understands what their teammates need, it is easier to be confident in what they do. In this case, the focus on mental health allowed England to overcome their long trouble with penalties at the World Cup.

It was interesting that the play was able to expand past the scope of football and provide commentary on social aspects of England. This was especially prevalent at the end of the play with the discussion of race. Although there are those who will say that it is not a footballer’s place to speak on these issues, it is good to see that these issues are now being addressed that might not have necessarily been in the past. Players and coaches alike feel as if they can speak up and stand up for themselves and teammates in ways that are becoming more and more acceptable in the sporting world. The play encapsulated this struggle of the players wanting to speak up but we’re worried about backlash that they would receive from the public. By doing so, the play was able to move beyond a one-dimensional play about football and talk about some more important issues.

Throughout the play it was apparent that there was a much greater representation of men than women. Some of the instances where women were present included the single women’s national player, their coach, and the team psychologist (Pippa). When compared to the representation of men, there was the men’s team, coaches, and many male actors. It is important to take into account that the play focused on the men’s national team. However, it brings to light the broader issue of equal representation and how men have taken the spotlight for the longest time in the realm of sports. When looking at the history of soccer, the men’s teams, managers, and owners had banned the women’s leagues due to them becoming more popular. It was interesting to see how many actors were used for the men’s team and there was a single woman representing a team that won the world cup. 

Overall the play was very well put together and captivating. Some of the highlights of the play for the group was the music and lighting they used throughout, the slow motion scenes, and the emotions the actors used to fully encapsulate the individual characters. We are thankful for the opportunity to watch an amazing performance and visualize the impacts of football on London.

By Luke, Clayton, Ntense, and Jonathan


History of Arsenal and Spurs Stadium Day” Blog Post (January 10th)

One of the first excursions for our Sports and Globalization study abroad program centered around the history of Arsenal and Spurs stadiums. We started the day with a presentation by London football historian Simon Inglis who walked us through the complex history of football and how it came to be. More specifically, he discussed the history of the Arsenal football club which workers at Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory formed. We learned about the previous Arsenal stadium that was converted into costly flats after the new stadium was built. 

From there, we traveled to Arsenal and got to see both stadiums, new and old. It was useful to hear about specific architectural choices and then to see them in person. We were lucky enough to go inside the old stadium and see how the pitch was converted into a garden. After walking around the old stadium, we headed over to the Emirates. It was interesting to not only see the larger-than-life stadium but to explore the community that surrounds it. Simon explained how because of the loud crowds and road closures, some community members were opposed to having a stadium right in the city centre. The Emirates was fantastic and covered in artwork and pictures. The streets were covered with statues of legendary players and managers who paved the way for the famous club. Despite not attending a game, you could feel the support and love for the club in the community where people wore Arsenal jerseys and kicked around a soccer ball. 

On our second excursion, we traveled by the tube to North London, where the Tottenham Spurs play. When we traveled on the overground tube, we could see the stadium in the background and we were instantly blown away by its true size and elegance. Before arriving inside the stadium for a tour, Simon began to tell us about the construction of the stadium and how the stadium is surrounded by many working-class flats (apartments). Because game days attract such a huge crowd of rowdy, drunk fans, many families who lived by did not want the stadium to be built there. Additionally, on game days, many businesses were forced to shut down (except cafes and bars), causing these workers to lose profit. Since the stadium was one of the most expensive stadiums built, the tickets for many working-class families, simply are not affordable, causing even more tension between the local neighborhoods and the stadium. Simon also told us the reason the Spurs stadium is simply called “Tottenham Spurs Stadium” – they have yet to get a proper sponsorship (i.e. emirates for the Arsenal Stadium).

During our tour, we were shown all the different levels of tickets/ticket packages you could purchase at the stadium which was interesting to see. Some of the packages were luxurious but also at a steep price – one of the nicest levels required you to pay a membership fee of £42,000 a year which then required you to buy at least 2 tickets a year for £42,000 on top of that, totaling almost $100,000 a year. However the view was amazing, in addition to heated seats, and lots of different food and drink options. We also got to see the locker rooms and other different facilities of the stadium which was amazing. One of the tour guides at Tottenham told us about the different layers of grass: 1 layer of grass/artificial turf for the Premier League games, and then underneath, another layer of just artificial turf for the 2-3 NFL games played at that stadium per year. Additionally, the stadium had to have lights on over the grass to manage it correctly and keep it up to par for the league which I also thought was cool. They also had a separate locker room for the NFL teams which was also very nice. 

By Ashlyn, Blake, Marcus, Chris, and Mia


History of Women’s Football: Presentation by Jean Williams” Blog Post (January 11th)

On January 11th we had the honor of welcoming Dr. Jean WIlliams, Professor at Wolverhampton University to our class. She, as the world’s leading historian of women’s football, gave us a quick history of women’s football and disabused us of some of our common misconceptions. 

Firstly she showed us this picture. What do you think it depicts and when do you think it is from?

PC: https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/culture/2014-06/16/content_17588937_6.htm

This is an artist’s vision of a few upper-class women in China playing a very early form of football/soccer called cuju. This was painted during the Ming Dynasty period (1368-1644).

We were then shown an etching of some women playing many sports with them playing some form of football in the foreground. This etching was published in an 1869 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. This was at a time when women who were even riding their bicycles would be pushed off them to prevent them from achieving any freedom of movement. 

PC “The Girls of the Period Playing Ball”: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/feb/18/womens-football-takes-centre-stage-museum-exhibition

PC: Jean Williams

This photo depicts a somewhat common occurrence at the time, men vs women games in the WWI years, this photo is dated to 1917. These games would be played between healthy women’s sides and men’s sides composed of injured war veterans, as a form of rehab, for physical, or more likely psychological injuries. These women would have moved into the factories because the men were away, and they formed their own teams. Although these women were paid half of what men were paid, this was still enough for them to gain some free time. 

Women’s football was very popular around the turn of the 20th century, with the first known women’s match in 1894 gaining more than 10,000 spectators. The explosion in popularity was partially allowed for by the popularization of bifurcated garments like bloomers, allowing for more efficient athletic participation by women. There were around 150 teams in the years surrounding World War I. However, in 1921, the English Football Association (FA) banned women from competing in the stadiums of their member organizations, encompassing all of the largest soccer venues in the UK. This greatly hampered the development of women’s soccer in the UK and around the world.

In 1971 the first unofficial women’s world cup was held in Mexico, and the final had more than 110,000 spectators, the best attended women’s sporting event in history, sorry Nebraska volleyball. The Danes were champions. The first World Cup that FIFA organized and recognized was in China in 1991, it was very poorly publicized and viewed. It was a similar story in 1995, but in 1999, when the US hosted the WWC the exposure greatly increased. 

This progress has generally continued with each subsequent WWC gaining more market share and more viewership. However, this hasn’t been uniform for all countries in the World Cup. Dr. Williams shared with us her pick for the most underrated player in women’s football history, and it is a current player, Marta. The Brazilian footballer, while magical, is still virtually unknown to the average US soccer fan despite winning 6 FIFA player-of-the-year awards. 

Should you want to do any more research on Dr. Williams’ work we have added a few links below. 

The History of Football podcast ft. Jean Williams: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07n8q35

How Does Sport Function In Times of Crisis? Ft. Jean Williams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3QVtEgpZAw 

Twitter account: https://twitter.com/JeanMWilliams

JJ Heritage: https://jjheritage.com/jean-williams/

Along with her publications: 

50 Women in Sport, 2022

A Game For Rough Girls: A History of Women’s Football in England, 2003

A Beautiful Game International Perspectives on Women’s Football, 2007

A Contemporary History of Women’s Sport, 2011

By Jocelyn, Declan, Briggs, and Kat


Rugby DayBlog Post (January 13th)

Our trip to the StoneX Stadium in northwest London, home of the Saracens Rugby Club, included a clinic with the coaching staff of the Saracens Women youth coaches. We learned a lot about the significant preparation that players undergo before every rugby match as well as the complex rules and regulations governing the sport. Following a quick warmup and overview of the main technical skills of throwing and kicking rugby balls, we transitioned into what a lot of us had been waiting for since hearing about this field trip: a pickup Rugby game splitting our program into two sides. Following that intense match, we enjoyed a tour of Saracens beautiful facilities and the extensive memorabilia collection of a previous owner of the club. 

Beginning our rugby journey, we began with a dynamic warmup that involved activating our hips and legs. We started with some light stretching that involved “opening up the gates” (hip exercises) and lunges with torso twists. From there, we progressed into some bounding movements and jogs. Once our coaches believed we were warm, we started a passing minigame without knowledge of rugby. Due to our lack of practice of the sport, we struggled to complete 10 passes in a row, but eventually, one team emerged victorious. Though this “thrown into the fire” coaching technique was absurd to me at first, I see how advantageous it was to the coaches. It made us players realize the importance of passing techniques, the rules of rugby, and the lack of skill we had going into the practice, further motivating us to learn in the following drills to play a more efficient game. In all, everyone appeared to have both improved tremendously over the course of our brief training session and enjoyed learning rugby. With shared team successes, failures, and laughs, the entire class had fun and became closer during our training. This made me recognize once again the power of unity within sport.  

      The Saracens staff was nice enough to allow us to tour their facilities and historic memorabilia. This tour started by seeing their impressive facilities, which I found very interesting to compare the rugby and football locker rooms. The locker rooms and facilities were admittedly smaller and a little more modest than Tottenham’s, but what I found so unique was the historical artifacts inside the Saracens stadium. From Olympic Memorabilia to Rugby trophies to Messi’s boots, they had more sports memorabilia than one could fully appreciate in one day. Our guides were also open to answering any questions possible which helped fully understand the power of the memorabilia.  Another powerful artifact was the jerseys of some of the great soccer players like Pele and Maradona, showing the power of sport to connect all these countries and players. It was also great to see the representation of “The Rumble in The Jungle”, a revolutionary moment with one of the most revolutionary athletes in US history, Muhammad Ali. Overall, the hospitality of the Saracens and deep history within their walls made for a powerful representation of how important sports are in bringing the world together.

In order to make teams for the pickup game, the youth coaches cleverly asked us all to pair up without explaining what we would be doing next. Naturally, we all gravitated towards the members of our program that we were closer to. However, the coaches then informed us to play rock paper scissors, with the winners on one team and the losers on the other. This made the match more competitive and balanced, and was a neat trick to hold onto when we visit Sevilla in a month. Once we began doing drills, I enjoyed that they started with a game before getting into more skill specific drills. It got us moving around and having fun with our teammates prior to learning. It had also given us a feel for the rugby ball as most of us had not played with one before. When the coaches had us practicing our passing, I thought they made great adjustments on the fly to optimize the session. For example, we were all doing a passing drill in one group, but once we had it down we split into two groups to maximize the reps we got. This shows how numbers you are coaching are important to consider when planning sessions. It also shows how we can be flexible and adjust plans when needed. One of the more small things I noticed was the coaches’ willingness to speak up and call people out when needed. If some people were talking when they shouldn’t be, the coaches would call them out and tell them to stop. This helps with efficiency and effectiveness within the session.

The last main coaching technique that I want to touch on is their ability to understand our level. This is interesting because it can be shown in many ways. It could be that you are coaching a very high level squad, so you talk through very important tactics well. On the other hand, it could be our case. This is where the coaches acknowledged that we were new to the sport and let us play freely. They made sure we followed the rules (most of the time), but they also did not care if we messed up. They recognized we were there to learn and had fun, and they changed the way they coached accordingly.

By Dash Rierson, Owen Detmer, Blake Jones, Chris Elliot


“Sports Marketing Industry: Nike Visit” Blog Post (January 15th)

Whether you attended this field trip as part of the “Sports and Globalization” Off Campus Studies program or not, it is safe to say that you are probably already familiar with the universally-known sportswear brand. However, the opportunity to have embarked on this excursion has provided our entire group with crystal clear insight that Nike strives to be much more than that. While just like any other business, Nike’s initial and primary goal is to maximize its profits (in which it has amassed incomparable success, now boasting a value of $50 billion). But through an in-depth presentation by the Sports and Marketing director of Nike UK, George Weber, our group has had the pleasure of learning firsthand that as this brand has grown, it has played a critical role in revolutionizing the meaning of sport. First and foremost, the opportunity to engage in sport, especially at a young age, provides individuals with undeniable attainment to increased empowerment; for those who come from a less privileged background, this opportunity has been severely lacking. During our experience at the UK office, Nike has made it exceedingly apparent that besides simply increasing profits, the universally-known sportswear brand has placed a simultaneous effort on growing the arena of women’s sports, diversity and inclusion for those who have been traditionally excluded from the opportunities of sport, and environmental sustainability.

For starters, as part of Nike’s growing efforts in the inclusion of women athletes, they have divested money from the UK men’s national team and have invested in the UK women’s national teams. They recently launched a campaign in support of the UK women’s national team with the slogan of “Like a Lionesses” learned through our presentation (The link: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=8DxiZWAXLZA). In addition, they have invested in hiring high-quality coaches to go to lower economic neighborhoods and provide free coaching to girls. They also are working on improving and distributing sports bras for women athletes. All in all, they say they are in the business of “Change” and “Doing the right thing”. They may not be perfect, but they are trying to be more inclusive toward women athletes and not focus on only men’s sports in their marketing campaigns as they have been in the past.

In addition, Nike accentuates its brand through a contionous commitment to fostering and breaking barriers in the realm of sports. These barriers might not be explicitly mentioned, but Nike has made it a part of its cultural identity such as getting behind the Black Lives Matter movement, which encourages its consumers and other brands to follow suit. The focus, as stressed in the meeting, is on enabling all walks of life to pursue athletic endeavors. This is expressed through phrases such as “every person is an athlete* because every person has a body, and we serve athletes*”. These branded essential mottos attached with Nike aim to create a world where discrimination has no place on or off the playing field. Nike’s mission extends beyond selling attire; it aligns with a broader vision of a global community gathered under the common love for sports. By championing inclusiveness, Nike aspires to empower individuals such as ourselves to overcome societal prejudices and embrace this transformative power sports can channel. The goal is to establish an environment where everyone regardless of background or circumstances, can actively engage in and benefit from the world of athletics.

Lastly a pivotal aspect which also ties into this narrative is Nike’s steadfast commitment to long-term environmental sustainability goals. A significant stride toward this direction was taken by powering owned-and operated facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2025, showcasing Nike’s dedication to reducing the planet’s and its companies carbon footprint. The company aims to cut carbon emissions across its global supply by 30% by 2023, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement. Remarkably, Nike has also achieved the diversion of 99% of all its footwear manufacturing from ending up in landfills. During our discussion, it was revealed aswell that Nike’s commitment to sustainability extends to its partnerships, such as the collaboration with the UK soccer club team, Chelsea. George informed us on how a substantial amount of the materials used in the team’s attire such as the jersey’s are spruced from waste products, truly demonstrating Nike’s commitment to innovative approach and a genuine wish to make the planet a more environmentally friendly place. This not only aligns with global sustainability goals but also sets a precedent standard for other sports brands to follow, emphasizing the influential role that major corporations can and do play in adapting to a greener and more sustainable future.

By Sam, Cam, Anna, Ty, and Owen


Design and Construction of Olympic and World Cup Sites: AECOM Visit” Blog Post (January 16th)

The Carleton OCS Sports and Globalization group had the opportunity to visit the United Kingdom location of the infrastructure consulting firm AECOM. The company is a global network of design, engineering, construction and management professionals partnering with clients to imagine and deliver a better world. Jon Leach, the director of building and places gave everyone a presentation regarding world class stadia, arenas, and major event expertise. The firm provides high performance architecture, engineering, and specialist consulting services. Some examples that Jon highlighted were the 2012 Olympics and the Fifa World Cup 2022. 

One of the specialties of the company is the development of smart stadia’s across the globe. A major key in design is recognizing that the sports business is evolving quite quickly. This is especially true with all of modern technology. The main goal is to incorporate the stadium as part of the city while providing economical sustainability. Jon emphasized the question: how do we make sure that this building is future proof for the next 30 years? Stadiums are now being designed to be parts of the city and have the capability to hold football matches, concerts, and much more. It stems back to the idea that the design is revenue based. AECOM strives to make these stadiums able to be used every day of the year. Furthermore, they want event diversity while being environmentally stable and focusing on low/zero carbon footprints. 

Some of the major challenges when building these stadiums were discussed by Jon as well. The expanding urban populations in cities causes difficulties with access to water, education, and affordable housing. Getting the land and location to produce these stadiums hurts these three factors. So it must be reimbursed in one way or another to promote the city. Another difficulty is infrastructure resilience; this is important because owners and clients want to have to put as little money into renovations as possible. This is where AECOM specializes and strives to build stadium future proof. One last challenge that was mentioned was the issue with public transportation. The stadium needs to be accessible and allow for spectators to easily travel to it. 

It was interesting to discuss how quickly the stadium industry is evolving and the impact of that constant advancement of technology and design. For example, the Emirates stadium replaced Highbury roughly 100 years after Highbury was created. However, although it has only been around for 20 or so years, it is already somewhat outdated. The requirements for what a stadium needs is changing dramatically over recent years with multipurpose stadiums becoming ever more prevalent and the requirements for media production changing every few years to fit broadcast needs. Therefore, it was interesting to discuss how stadiums are being built for the future with the knowledge that the technology needed and the uses of the stadium is constantly changing. The idea that AECOM currently holds is that although they can, and do, try to predict the stadium needs and uses moving forward, it is equally important to be able to replace components and technology within the stadium as required. Therefore, as technology inevitably gets better, the design of the stadium is able to accommodate this without need for a major overhaul of the entire stadium. In a constantly evolving world it is important for these designs to be able to be changed and updated. Jon explained that AECOM used this philosophy effectively during their role in the construction of the 2012 London Olympic stadiums. AECOM did not want to construct arenas that would then be abandoned once the games finished, which is something we often see in other cities. So, during the construction of places like the Olympic Park, London Stadium and the Velodrome, AECOM implemented various additions that would ensure that the legacy of the area would span for decades after the games finished. During the construction, AECOM also helped develop housing around the area, as well as a large public park in the center. The housing, along with the park continues to be utilized today. Though the games may now be over, the arenas and surrounding stadiums are by no means abandoned. AECOM’s vision helped establish the legacy of the London Olympic arenas as a place that soared beyond just the sports. 

Overall, visiting the AECOM offices at the Aldgate Tower and listening to Jon’s talk was an amazing experience. Though many of us in the group had very little previous knowledge about the topic, Jon’s presentation was well put-together and well-delivered, giving us a detailed but welcoming introduction to the topic of stadium construction and development. When visiting British stadia later in the trip like the Etihad, Stamford Bridge and the Olympic Park, we will have a better understanding of how these stadiums were built and how they currently function. After the talk and our group photo, we were gifted with a beautiful view of London from the 16th floor of the tower. This was the cherry on top of an already fantastic experience.

By Luke Wharton, Clayton Dippold, Ntense Obono, and Jonathan Vonderlage


“Sport Law and Agents: Presentation by Daniel Geey” Blog Post (January 18th)

Daniel Geey 

Blog Post by the Chicago Cubs 

This week as part of “Sports and Globalization” in London, we were fortunate enough to have Daniel Geey as our guest speaker. Daniel Geey is a sports lawyer, author, and speaker from Liverpool. He has had an impressive career doing many different types of law including financial and agricultural law before practicing sports law. He got into sports law originally as a side hustle, creating blog posts about legal issues regarding footballers and clubs. Now he works at Sheridans Sports Group as a successful sports lawyer. One of his biggest works include assisting with the signings of Declan Rice to Arsenal, which is one of the biggest signings ever. He also represented Hector Bellarin when he was one of the biggest stars for Arsenal in the 2010’s. We learned a lot about the ins and outs of being a sports lawyer including, but not limited to the four Bs of football: “Broadcasting, Boots, Brookers, and Bonuses”.

Daniel Geey provided very compelling developments in the bonuses included in professional footballer’s contracts. He explained how incentives used to be driven by a player’s individual success, excluding the result of matches or club successes which can ultimately lead to players playing selfishly in order to hit these benchmarks for a heftier payday. An adaptation was needed, and Daniel explained how now based on a combination of appearance and team success (wins), a new bonus strategy was implemented that can still be varying depending on injury. This was very interesting to me and makes me wonder if more United States sports leagues need to adopt this tactic as plenty of times you see players around the league pushing for individually based incentives late in the year. For example, one year Tom Brady was pushing toget Rob Gronkowski a late year regular season bonus when they both played for the Buccaneers. This individual incentive distracted from the larger goal and resulted in a less productive offensive output. I think that the incentives used by the Premier League are optimal for a winning club and need to be adopted universally because in order for the bonus to be attained, the addition of the appearance agreement ensures that the athlete is meeting an expectation of producing at the highest level. 

Arguably the most prominent part of Daniel’s meeting was his lesson on broadcasting, one of the ‘four B’s of football’. Daniel made it a colossal point to stress that for the past several decades, and especially in our current media-driven age, everything starts with broadcasting rights; 80% of all football-driven profits are accrued through broadcasting, show-casing its ongoing dominance. In order to fully comprehend the enigma that is broadcasting rights, one must take a look at its history. In the year 1992, England witnessed the creation of the Premier League, which quickly firmly established itself as the most competitive and prestigious division of football in the world. With the formation of such an illustrious league came the potential for unprecedented profits, which was immediately recognized by both the clubs themselves and broadcasting companies. Traditionally, football matches were rarely aired on live television, with there usually only being one to two matches per week being available on the screen. Most of the time, fans would have to attend the matches in person. But with further developments in technology, more and more matches were able to be displayed on television. There was a problem, however; if fans were able to simply view the match for free from the comfort of their home, then how would the clubs make all of the revenue that they relied on from ticket sales? The clubs themselves asked this very question, which has consequently resulted in our current age of broadcasting domination.

Following the Premier League’s inauguration, the top 24 clubs broke away from the rest of football for the purpose of signing a 5 year contract worth 252 million pounds with Sky Broadcasting. This deal secured all of these clubs’ games behind a paywall, meaning that fans could no longer watch their favorite clubs for free on cable television. At the time, this was completely unheard of, and was absolutely revolutionary to not only the sports world, but the entire entertainment industry as well. In the decades that have followed, these paywalls have expanded from football into entertainment packages, landlines, and more. Recently, we have witnessed a reversal of such trends, highlighted by disparate services and programs behind separate paywalls, with cable barely hanging on by a thread. Such developments are why some NFL games in the US are exclusively shown on a single streaming service, such as Amazon Prime holding various Thursday Night Football games, or Peacock having a single playoff game. While the general broadcasting trends have developed and evolved over time, seemingly much more rapidly in recent years, one fact holds true: broadcasting is and always will be where the money is in football. 

“Brokers” was the term Daniel used for agents so he could fit agents into his 4 B’s. Daniel was able to give us some great insight into what it’s like to be a football agent in Europe and more specifically the UK. One really interesting thing that Daniel discussed in regards to brokers was agents dealing with minors. Anybody under the age of 16 is not allowed to be approached by agents and breaking those rules comes with immense consequences. The class asked some great questions, like what a typical contract looks like for a younger athlete, whether the signee’s guardians can receive any compensation, and how the route to European football is different than the US. Agent compensation is quite different in Europe than in the US, as teams compensate the agents as opposed to the players. Daniel was asked whether this encouraged agents to hurt their players in contract negotiations in order to get more money, which Daniel countered by stating that the more money an agent gets, the higher tax a player will pay, making the player more likely to part ways with his agents. Daniel was able to give us a great look into the perhaps more unseen areas of brokers and contract negotiations, which definitely kept the class engaged.

By Sam, Cam, Anna, Ty, and Owen


“International Ownership, Immigration and Globalized Roster: Brighton Hove Albion vs. Wolves” Blog Post (January 22nd)

On Monday, January 22nd, the Carleton Sports and Globalization group had an opportunity to watch their first live Premier League game. The game was Brighton versus Wolves at Brighton Stadium. We first took a tube to the Farringdon station and then took a train to Brighton. We had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours walking around the Brighton seaside and getting food at local restaurants. We took a train to the stadium where we watched the game from amazing seats right off a corner flag, and the result was 0-0. 

Although an ending score of 0-0 sounds like it would be anti-climactic, there was a lot of action and excitement throughout the game. Football is a very popular and integral sport in England’s culture which brings a lot of energy and competitiveness. This competitive dynamic led to the stadium and seating being designed and used in a very strategic way to keep aggression between fans at a minimum while still allowing fans to have a sense of community. The diehard fans are situated on either side of the field behind the goals. The family sections are on the sides of the field to separate the more riled-up football fans. There are separate doors and walls between sections at the game to keep fans from intermingling and possible aggression between teams. Although this does help de-escalate the environment, fans can still be seen nagging each other throughout the game.

Brighton was the home team and overall played a better game than the Wolves. This can be seen in the game stats. Brighton had 11 shots on goal while the Wolves only had two. Although Brighton had more shots on goal they had a smaller proportion of shots on target than the Wolves but not by much. Brighton had about 36.36% of their shots on goal be on target while the Wolves had 37.5% of their shots on goal be on target. Brighton had possession of the ball 72% of the time while the Wolves only had possession 28% of the time. Brighton had 90% pass accuracy while the Wolves only had 76% pass accuracy. These stats show that Brighton is presumably the better team but at the end of the game, the score was still stuck at 0-0. 


Sport Analytics: Opta Visit” Blog Post (January 24th)

On Wednesday, January 24, we went to a Stats Perform Opta office in London, UK. The office was located just off the canal near Paddington station. The company was founded in 1996 to analyze Premier League football matches and was contracted by Sky Sports for their television broadcasts of the 1996–97 season. The following season, Opta became the official statistics provider for the league itself and became sponsored by Carling. Now the company records performance stat data from a variety of different leagues and teams while compiling them in an easy to read manner to sell to any company that wants them. Many football metrics used in national broadcasts, team facilities, and player analyses are compiled by Opta. 

Upon arrival we had a great introduction to the company by some of its employees. We spoke with Mike Morrison, the head of marketing for the London branch who explained the services and products that the company provides for its clients. Next we spoke with Danny Dinsdale, a data scientist who works with the raw numbers and derives programs in order to work through the vast amount of data quickly. He explained that the data is compiled mainly by humans but also by AI (player and event recognition). It is then brought to them as raw data, then they use their programs to make that data meaningful. Lastly the data is given to a data analyst like Johnny Whitmore, who gives these random numbers meaning for the company that contracted them. This could be a graphic for a news report, in match fan graphic, a short sheet for an announcer, the list goes on. 

Throughout their presentation Mike, Danny, and Jonny gave various interesting insights within their business. One interesting point they made was that the majority stats are still manually imputed by stat keepers onsight on any given match day. These stats are then stored into their humongous database of football stats kept from 1976 when Opta was created. Some may assume that there has been some sort of automation to keeping these stats but this is not the case here. The stat keepers do get help from AI though as it is used to give more precise and detailed statistics at much faster rates on any given play. For example, AI may be used to record the type of pass being made or the distance covered by any given pass. It also allows statititions to make predictive models for games so betting platforms have accurate and timely information for people to bet on. AI technology within football and sports in general is still growing though as there are still many areas that stat keepers still have trouble with even with the help of AI. Some stats such as clears are still difficult to accurately record due to the arbitrary nature of the play. These were great points made in a great discussion facilitated by the Stats Perform Opta team. 

Our group found that the most valuable connection to apply to our future endeavors at coaching came towards the end of the presentation— in a somewhat unexpected fashion. Jonny was describing the difficulties in marketing their products, especially to the prototypical “Brexit” coaches that are frequently seen across the British game. Specifically, he mentioned a coach who was incredibly skeptical about adopting statistical analyses into their club’s decision-making process. This skepticism about xG was slowly dissolved as he physically explained the concept to the coach by having him take ten shots from outside of the box. This story was part of a larger argument about the four different types of learning: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing. What we took away from this portion of the presentation was that we all learn with a different combination of these educational typologies. Both as coaches and just as individuals operating together in the world, it is most productive to attempt to meet people where they are. In this way, we can learn from each other and educate those we are tasked with developing much better. Instead of attempting to fit every square peg into a round hole, we must genuinely listen to the person across from us to best adjust to their learning styles, growing ourselves as coaches as we do so. 

By Oryon, Dash, Jack, and Bem


UEFA and Women’s Football: Chelsea vs. Real Madrid Champion’s League MatchBlog Post (January 24th)