Posts Tagged ‘sports’

Sneaker Wars?!

Sat ,02/12/2017

Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas & Puma & the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sports

This is quite frankly, one of the craziest (nonfiction) books I’ve ever read. It tells the story of Adi Dassler and his rival, Rudi – as they created and fought for business over the decades since just before WWII with Adidas and Puma, respectively.

But arguably the most crazy (and interesting) part of the story is Adi’s son Horst, who literally built the Adidas brand and worldwide presence we know today, through athlete product endorsements, additional clothing lines and relentless promotion across nearly every sport imaginable. From the way the book portrays him, he’s all but a head of state in many ways, especially given the relationships he creates and cultivates until he passes away at a fairly young age in his early 50s.

Puma is kind of an also-ran in the later years as depicted in this book (Rudi also had a rival son to Horst, but seems to continually come up short on nearly all fronts, save for a few cases) – but it’s also interesting to see along the way how Phil Knight learned the lessons of Horst well and built his own, even bigger shoe and clothing empire starting with one Michael Jordan….the research that went into this book is top-notch and obviously took years to accumulate and review, especially given these are private companies, not governments or public entities.

defnitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.


Jack Ramsay….R.I.P.

Mon ,28/04/2014

If you lived in Portland, OR from the late 70s through the 80s, you know who Jack Ramsay is. What a class act – rare these days. Rest in Peace.

Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay dies at 89


Among the Thugs: Bill Buford

Mon ,26/11/2012

Just finished reading Bill Buford‘s 1990 account of English soccer hooligans, Among the Thugs. This is a very interesting book, if you can stomach the violence and nihilism.

Set in the late 1980’s, Buford takes us through several direct accounts of over-the-top drinking, fighting and (effectively) gang warfare amongst English soccer fans while attending pro games (at home and on the Continent). These ‘hooligans‘ were quickly banned from European contests for many years due to their violent tendencies, and may have had a direct hand in bringing about the far more closely-controlled, iron grip the police and security seem to have on such matches today (notwithstanding the even more overt influence of the later events following Sept. 11, 2001, sadly).

What’s weird is that I was actually in Europe for part of this time as a college student (’86-’87 school year), and remember hearing peripherally about English fans being out of control, but as there don’t seem to have been any major matches (battles) in Austria back then, I must have been otherwise insulated from what was going on.

On the one hand, you can see where people want to let off steam and have some fun, and naturally where better than with hundreds or thousands of others there to do the same thing? And Buford talks to this, about the connection to soccer’s huge, working-class fan base and its devotion to the sport week in and week out.

But the darker, increasingly violent side takes its toll and eventually overshadows whatever joy might have been the starting point. As Buford lays out his experiences, some even as a direct recipient of the violence (e.g. the Sardinia experience near the end of the book) you really lose your sympathy for what’s going on. While I never favor the police treating the population as a convenient punching bag or as cattle to be herded with riot weapons and clubs, I can easily see where these violent hooligans may have (literally) pushed them to that extreme in a number of the confrontations described here. And ultimately the hooligans can only blame themselves for the outcome(s), despite likely most of them escaping accountability, as only the worst, most obvious and devil-may-care of the bunch ever seem to get caught?

The other stories I couldn’t help thinking of here were those told of John Bonham from Led Zeppelin when he got drunk and raged out of control back in their heyday – or even Keith Moon in some cases, even though he was far too much a dandy (and addicted to property damage above all else anyway) to start fights he’d almost always lose (unlike Bonham). Again, you have people with some hidden character issues that alcohol or intense situations really set alight, and then consequences be damned (or at minimum, a lot of money and lawyers are required to fix). It’s safe to say most people in common society never behave this way, and if they do, they are isolated quickly and in the lockup before long – but the precise nature of the ‘crowd’ is what seems to have protected the hooligans from paying the price, at least early on. As Buford notes several times in the book – there was never any underlying ‘purpose’ behind the battles with police and other soccer fans (English or otherwise) – in the end, it was all just a playground revolt that escalated WAY beyond anyone’s expectations, including the participants.

A unique take on a years-long situation that may never occur with such regularity again – and quite honestly, that’s a good thing.

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